CHF Recovery: Day 75

Even though I didn’t go to bed until midnight, I woke up at around 3:30. Ugh. I tried to fall back asleep, but it didn’t work, so I finally got up at 4. I’m not used to having insomnia. I don’t like it.

I had my protein shake and then ate leftovers from last night, waiting until 7 to take my morning meds since that’s when I normally take them. I also weighed myself today; I keep forgetting to do that. Fortunately my weight is fine.

I spent all morning working on the story I started writing yesterday. Still not done. I have a couple things to do today. I hope I have time to work more on the story. I’d like to finish it soon. When I don’t finish stories quickly I can lose interest, and then they just languish on my hard drive or in Google Docs forever :/

~

I was going to have breakfast with Charles and Heidi, but by 8am I was exhausted, so I canceled and went back to bed. I slept until noon, then got ready for and went to a therapy appointment. I felt much better after resting, and therapy was good. I’m feeling pretty great these days, aside from the tiredness. Sean has a lot of anxiety right now, though, so it was good to let him talk about that.

We picked up Arby’s for dinner, sharing their new mint chocolate shake; it was delicious. I worked a bit more on that story I’ve been writing since yesterday, but I’m still not done. I’m tired again, so I’m thinking about taking a nap…

~

I napped from about 6 to 8:30, then went to bed again at 11.

CHF Recovery: Day 74

This is the update for Saturday, November 26, 2016

I had planned to do several things:

  • laundry
  • grocery shop
  • put up Christmas tree
  • read two fanfic updates
  • see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

However, of these, I only managed to do laundry. Sean and I could not find a good time to see the movie, and I ended up getting really involved in writing a story, so I worked on that instead of doing anything else. I did leave the apartment twice; around 11:30 I got a Brazilian wax and then picked up lunch for me and Sean, and then at around 8 I picked up chicken tenders for dinner. I also spent some snuggle time with Sean, and we ended up napping for a couple hours. Otherwise, I sat at the computer and wrote all day.

I have not finished the story yet; at around midnight I decided I needed to go to sleep!

Moving the goal posts

Hey so check this out.

Here’s what tab 3 of my 2016 writing spreadsheet looked like when my monthly word count goal was 10k and my stretch goal was 15k:

2016 writing spreadsheet tab 3 with updated counts

Buuuuuuuuuuut look what happens if I change the monthly goal to 2k and the stretch goal to 5k:

2016 writing spreadsheet tab 3 revised

LOOK HOW GREAT I’M DOING

Stuff

Sometimes I come out of my depression enough to think about all the stuff I’m not accomplishing, and why that might be (gee, maybe depression? But also: I’m a lazy fuck).

This morning a friend was mentioning that they have fallen behind on their word count for the year, but that they’re not too far behind and they’re impressed they made it this far into the year without falling behind until now. I literally had nothing to say to that. Back at the beginning of the year I worked with them on creating spreadsheets that track word counts in a variety of ways, and I was really proud of my version of it, but I haven’t actually used that spreadsheet since February.

2015’s spreadsheet was broken up by month and required me to create blocks for each week and take up a ton of space:

my 2015 writing spreadsheet

2016’s spreadsheet was designed so I could simply enter anything I wrote into rows on the same tab:

my 2016 writing spreadsheet - data tab

and then the other tabs would track whether I was meeting certain goals. The second tab just checks to see if I have written anything at all in a given week.

my 2016 writing spreadsheet, tab 2

Then the third tab tracks monthly goals. My baseline was 10k words per month, and 15k was a stretch goal. (Obviously I never met either of these.)

my 2016 writing spreadsheet, tab 3

And finally, on the last tab, I just wanted to tally what kind of writing I was doing. There were no goals for this tab. I was just thinking it would be neat to see what projects ended up getting the most word count. I separated “ficlets” from “fanfic” because I wanted to differentiate between tiny stories (200-word drabbles, five-sentence ficlets) and short stories, even though my short stories tend to be so short that other people might call them ficlets as well (under 4000 words).

my 2016 writing spreadsheet, tab 4

So yeah, the spreadsheet is pretty cool, and I get a certain amount of pride looking at it now, even though I barely used it for its actual purpose.

But the point is, I haven’t met any word count goals this year. I have written things beyond what I’ve tracked, but not much. Maybe I’ll go through and fill in this spreadsheet with everything I’ve written since February, but I’m not sure I want to see how little I’ve been writing.

I realize this is an extremely rough time for me and I shouldn’t expect myself to be perfect and shit, but I just feel like a failure. Most times when I try to start writing something I am filled with extreme reluctance. Occasionally I’m not, and something comes out. But I feel like I should just push through that reluctance and force myself to write things, and that because I’m not, I’m weak and lazy.

Looking back at the 2015 Daily Writing Challenge

Happy New Year! I decided to take a nap at around 6:30pm last night and ended up sleeping until 2am, so I missed midnight kisses and whatnot. It’s 2016 now and I figured it’s a good time to see how I did with last year’s resolution: write something non-work-related every day.

Let me just say up front that I did not write something every day. And I was feeling pretty down on myself about it, so I hadn’t recorded my word counts since September. I was convinced that I’d barely written anything for the latter half of the year. But this morning I went through and tallied everything, and it’s a lot better than I’d thought. While it’s true my monthly word count fell below 10,000 words from August onward, I wasn’t that far from April, June, and July’s totals (with the exception of November, which I will forgive myself for, as I was very depressed that month).

I wrote a total of 175,809 words in 2015. That is huge. If all these words had been for the same project, I’d have a novel. Of course, they weren’t; I wrote a bunch of smaller things. I don’t know how many projects there were, but they ranged from five-sentence ficlets to (as-yet-unfinished) chaptered works. The majority were one-off stories, which seem to be my strong suit. Regardless, that’s an impressive number of words, especially since before this past year (technically, November 2014), I had not been doing any creative writing whatsoever.

I’d like to keep writing, but I’d also like to not disappoint myself like I did when I started missing writing days. Failing to meet a goal makes me lose confidence, and I end up not wanting to do anything for fear of further failure. So I think this year I will change my goal. Instead of saying I will write something every day, I will commit to writing every week, with the goal of a certain number of words per month. Since I averaged 14,650 words per month in 2015, maybe I’ll make my monthly word goal 15,000.

I can work out the details, including how to track this (I’m not sure the spreadsheets I used in 2015 are ideal), at a later time. For now, though, I’m pretty sleepy, so I’m going back to bed.

Here’s some stuff

I haven’t updated my 2015 Daily Writing tally in a couple months, but the gist is, I have not been writing daily. Or even weekly. The last thing I wrote was a tiny fanfic on November 1. Before that I was writing somewhat regularly, but not every day.

Sometimes when I think about writing, it seems like too much effort. Sometimes I can’t think of anything I want to write. Sometimes I just feel too tired.

Lately I’ve started to think that maybe I might be ready to write again, but I haven’t done it yet.

I have an appointment on Thursday to talk with someone about what I assume is depression. We’ll see how that goes.

Remember when I used to blog?

Life has been…different, lately. And very busy. I don’t know that I’m actually doing a whole lot, but it sure feels like I’m spending every moment on something. It occurred to me that it’s been awhile since I actually blogged, so I thought I’d put down some sort of update.

There are several new people in my life, friends I’ve made through the Welcome to Night Vale fandom and through Sean. It has been so wonderful getting to know them and sharing things with them. I’ve been doing a lot more chatting recently than I had for years. I’d really missed it. So many of my new friends are artists or writers, so we’ve been inspiring each other to create fanworks, and it’s been so much fun.

My online life has sort of shifted; I used to spend a lot of time on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, but now I hardly ever look at those two sites. I’m enjoying the chatting a lot more—it’s more personal, and it’s with people I care a lot about. (Sometimes on social media I get a bunch of updates from acquaintances and barely anything from my closest friends.)

I have a trip coming up soon; I’m going to New York City! I’ve only been once before, during Sean and my visit to New York state in 2011 (which I never finished writing up, alas). I’m really excited to see the city properly. I’m going to a Broadway musical, even! But the best part is that I’m going to meet someone very special in person for the first time. :)

I went home to visit my family over Labor Day weekend. It was nice. I didn’t feel like doing much, so I hung out in the office with Mom most of the time. On Sunday, the day before I left, we had a cookout, and AJ let Connor and Logan invite a bunch of their friends. Mom and Dad’s yard was filled with teen and pre-teen boys, swimming, playing horseshoes, tossing beanbags, and helping with the grill. It was amazing. Eventually we all sat down to eat wherever we could find a spot and one of Logan’s friends, Cade, entertained us with jokes. Then he and Logan challenged each other to eat various food items with lemon juice squirted all over them. It was funny.

Ben had no idea I was visiting, so I didn’t see him at all. Gah. Next time I will be sure to tell him myself that I am coming!

My daily writing challenge has kind of faltered. Some days I have been too mentally exhausted to write. Some days I just haven’t been in the right headspace. I’m still trying to write regularly, but it seems like every day isn’t sustainable. I’m trying not to beat myself up over it, and instead to enjoy the writing I’m doing.

So far the vast majority of my writing has been fanworks. I’m trying not to feel bad about this, either. For some reason I feel like I should be writing original stuff, like the work I’ve done isn’t “real.” But people have enjoyed what I’ve written, and I’ve enjoyed writing it. There’s value to it. I’m trying to break out of the “if it can’t make money, it’s worthless” mentality.

(Of course, I’m also nervous that I’m just scared to try to write something original, because I don’t feel like I can do it and I don’t want to fail…)

Sean and I eat out a lot these days. Neither of us is a big fan of cooking. For Sean, it’s mostly that it takes so much time. For me, there’s the added issue that Sean is fairly picky, so there’s the danger that I’ll spend forever making something and then he won’t like it. So we tend to get takeout or fast food, or just go to a restaurant.

We have been trying to make healthier choices, at least. I’ve been getting Starbucks’ Protein Bistro Box for breakfast pretty regularly. It comes with a hard-boiled egg, two slices of white cheddar cheese, a small multi-grain pita with honey-peanut butter spread, apple slices, and grapes. It is so yummy! Much nicer than a sausage or bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit, and healthier too. It’s a struggle not to just eat one every day. (I’ve been thinking that I could probably create my own version at home that would cost less. Maybe I’ll do that.)

Exercise-wise, neither of us is doing much of anything. We have to go up a flight of stairs to leave our apartment, and I take the stairs in the parking garage at work, but that’s about it. I’ve been thinking about getting back into walking or running in the mornings now that the weather is cooling off again, but I’m not sure I want to get up any earlier than I already do. My evenings feel pretty short already, especially since most of my friends stay up late.

Yesterday one of my friends linked me to a couple of videos: the pilot short and the first episode of the miniseries Over the Garden Wall. I had never seen it before, though I knew a lot of people were fans. It was absolutely incredible. So unique and charming. Creepy and cute all at once. The music is spectacular. At some point I need to sit down and watch the whole thing. (I was disappointed that both of the two main characters are boys, but my friend says there are important girl characters in the show, so I will hold out hope.)

Otherwise, I haven’t been watching or listening to much of anything lately beyond Welcome to Night Vale. I’ve heard of a couple of podcasts that sound great, but it’s hard for me to find time to listen to podcasts. I need to be doing something with my hands, but it can’t be something that takes too much mental energy, because I’ll get distracted from the show. Maybe if I start walking again, I could listen then. I’ve also been thinking about learning embroidery, or at least cross-stitch. I could listen to podcasts while doing that, maybe.

Well, that’s basically what’s going on in my life right now! On the whole, things are really good. Love, family, friends, hobbies, adventures, happiness. :)

Writin’

Thanks to a story I was really excited about that I wrote in three days and which ended up being nearly 5000 words, my May week one word count has reached February levels. This is nice :3

Damn.

I just realized I didn’t write anything yesterday except work stuff. So I’ve broken my trend of writing every day. There’s not even something I could fudge and pretend counts, like a Tumblr post or something.

To be fair to myself, it was a long day. I got up and packed, went to work, went home to see Sean at lunch, left work at 5, and drove to Kentucky, arriving just after midnight. Sooooo I’m not sure when in there I could have written something. Maybe on one of my rest stops…

Sigh.

Not much real writing lately

The past two weeks have been pretty light, writing-wise. My moments of strongest inspiration were a Night Vale one-off called “Brother” and Flace; otherwise I’ve been struggling with Opening a Door and its side story, trying to get back into the rhythm. It’s possible this writer’s block, or whatever, is contributing to the low moods I’ve been having. Or vice-versa. Regardless, it’s very irritating. I’m hoping being in a different place—my parents’ house—and being around lots of people who love me will help reboot my brain. I wrote about my moods separately so I could count that as today’s writing, because since I’ve been here I’ve mainly just been reading or spending time with family, and I haven’t written any fiction at all.

It is so easy to fall into “rumination,” thinking depressing thoughts over and over. My worst one lately has been questioning whether my writing is even worth doing, when there are so many amazing writers out there already. Who will read me? Does my writing really affect people? Does anyone care? Will it matter if I don’t write? It’s possible that these thoughts are affecting my motivation, even as I consciously fight them.

It’s also hard to feel good about my writing when the majority of what I’ve done so far is fan fiction. I think fan fiction is wonderful, and some of the best writing I’ve ever seen is fan fiction. Hell, much of our “legitimate”—culturally acceptable—entertainment is technically fan fiction, retellings of existing stories. But somehow it’s not seen that way; there’s an arbitrary distinction between the fan fiction that is licensed, sold to the masses, and the fan fiction that is just done out of love. “Do you have any original work?” one person asked me. “Oh, no, why are you writing fan fiction?” moaned another.

Honestly, I have just been trying to write every day. I’ve really been trying not to worry about writing something important. I want to write good stuff, but I’m not trying to meet any other criteria.

I want to have fun with my writing. It would be nice if it led somewhere. It would be nice if I could sell something I wrote. But it’s hard to profit on writing. You have to be far more prolific than I’m managing at the moment.

Let me just try to write what I want to write, what I enjoy writing, for a while longer. Let me get to a point where I feel like I can consistently put out a decent amount of writing. For a time there I was doing really well, but these past two weeks have been a significant bump. For now, let me just try to work through this.

An extremely slow week

This past week’s word count is extraordinarily low compared to that of previous weeks. Just 2827. My lowest-output week before this was the second week of January, at 3436. My highest output in a week so far has been 9568.

I’ve had some stuff on my mind, so that’s probably why this week has been slow. I’m trying not to worry about it too much. I’m also trying not to worry too much about the “fact” that I’m not writing anything “important,” but I think this may be bothering me more than I realize.

I’m taking this coming Thursday and Friday off work. I feel like I need to do something different to recharge. I definitely want to go somewhere, but I haven’t decided where yet.

Writing myself raw

It seems that writing every day puts me even more inside my head than I usually already am, and that has resulted in some pretty dramatic mood shifts. Either that, or my moods have always shifted like this, and I just wasn’t paying attention.

There will be days when I feel absolutely wonderful, days when words flow like water and joy bubbles up at everything. There will be days when I’m fine, not great, not terrible, just fine, and things can make me smile even as dark thoughts creep at the edges of my consciousness. And then there will be days when I think that my writing is terrible, that I am terrible, that everything I do is pointless.

Those are not good days.

Being aware of what type of day I’m having has helped me to start developing appropriate responses. On the good days, I just enjoy it. I indulge in thinking about how great everything is and pat myself on the back and pat other people on the back and engage in many conversations–those are the days I feel the most sociable. On the lukewarm days, I often have trouble focusing, so I set out tasks and plow through them with the help of music. When I think something disparaging about myself, I reject the thought as quickly as possible, and remind myself that I am doing something, that I am learning and growing, and that there is no such thing as perfect, just a path of improvement. As long as I stay on that path, I have no reason to hate myself. And staying on that path doesn’t mean writing thousands of words every day…it just means writing something every day.

On the horrible days, I just take care of myself as best I can. If I don’t feel like going anywhere, I don’t go anywhere. I generally don’t talk to anyone. I read things I enjoy and eat good food and go to sleep. Sleeping helps. But no matter what, I make sure that I write something, even on those days.

I’m not sure what kind of day today is yet. I feel like it has the potential to be good, if not great. Wednesday was awful, but I figured something out on Wednesday, a new way of thinking about things, and Thursday was an absolutely wonderful day. I did a lot of work-related writing, which of course doesn’t go toward my word count, but I also went back to a story I haven’t written on in awhile, and it was good. I was cheerful and chatty and smiling all day. Yesterday I sort of coasted along on Thursday’s momentum; it was a nice day, but quiet, subdued, like I wanted to just plug happily away at things by myself. I wrote a few sentences in the morning, spent the day working and reading, then went to dinner with Sean and our friends Charles and Heidi. Finally, late last night, I wrote and wrote and wrote, and yesterday’s total word count ended up being 1175. Not amazing, but good, and I was happy with what I’d written. It’s not beautiful–I really hope someday I can write something beautiful–but it’s interesting.

I like writing at night before bed. I’m typically a morning person, but if I stay up past my bedtime I get this strange, fresh burst of energy. And late at night it’s quiet; there are few distractions, and there’s nothing else to do. It’s not chore time or work time or socializing time. It’s my time.

Another nice thing about writing before bed is that I wake up thinking about my stories. If I don’t let myself get distracted by social media and news articles, I can jump right back into it.

I have decided that today will be good. It looks like the weather will be nice, clear and cool. Maybe I’ll go somewhere, let nature or art or some other kind of beauty rejuvenate me. And I’ll write, of course. Of course, I’ll write.

Word count

It’s the last day of January. This morning I tallied the words I’ve written so far this month, and it came out to 27,935.

The first thing that leaps out at me is that this is about half the words required to complete National Novel Writing Month. I’m actually pretty happy with this, because I wasn’t trying to meet a certain word count at all. I get the feeling that as I keep writing every day, as I get used to doing it and it becomes part of my daily life, my output will naturally increase. By the time November rolls around, I might actually be to the point that I can do NaNoWriMo.

I’ve tried NaNo a couple of times, but I never made it past about ten days of writing. The shift from not writing at all to suddenly trying to output thousands of words a day was not sustainable. I quickly got bored, frustrated, and blocked. (I also ended up losing everything I wrote in my 2004 attempt in the 2005 apartment fire.)

This more gradual approach seems to be much better; I can write whatever I’m inspired to write, and I don’t feel pressured to be particularly prolific as long as I write something.

It’s been heartening, too, to see that I’m able to keep writing despite the weird highs and lows I go through. Noticing how often they’ve been happening has been strange. I don’t know if my moods have always swung this frequently, or if writing daily is causing me to spend even more time inside my own head than usual. I wonder if I should come up with some way of tracking and quantifying my moods.

In any case, the month isn’t quite over yet. I’ll be writing more today, and I look forward to updating my tally sheet with the final word count for January. Then…on to February!

It’s almost February

In anticipation of Month Two of Daily Writing, I have created a main filler page for 2015 Daily Writing, under which I have placed 2015 Daily Writing: January and another new page, 2015 Daily Writing: February. Right now the filler page is just there to act as a container in the drop-down menu, but I think I might end up using it for summaries of each month (total word count, completed works, types of work, whatever).

Yesterday was pretty great, writing-wise. The night before, I was feeling restless and ended up staying awake way past my bedtime. As I was trying to force myself to go to bed, an idea for a new piece of fanfiction came to me all at once. I immediately went back to the office and turned my laptop back on and wrote 241 words. The next morning I woke up and wrote a couple hundred more, and again at lunch, and then after work I wrote until 1am, ending up with a completed chapter of 4511 words. I edited it and posted it at 1:17am in a happy haze and was finally able to go to sleep.

Fortunately, I have today off, so staying up late two days in a row didn’t hurt anything. I slept in until a little after 8. The day has been spent doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and closing a bunch of browser tabs–though thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I’ve opened a few new tabs as well. There is just so much out there to read.

I haven’t done today’s writing yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m not sure if I’ll continue the project from yesterday or jump to something else, but whatever I do will certainly be fun. I have the following to choose from:

  • Opening a Door: yesterday’s fanfic
  • Whispers: a fanfic I’ve been working on since January 1, which currently has 8 chapters and 7758 words
  • the untitled childhood memoir I started writing on Wednesday
  • the franchise reboot I’ve been working on since January 13
  • Impostor: an original science fiction story
  • the vignette I promised Heidi
  • something else! who knows!

It sort of seems like now that I’ve started writing every day, I can’t stop…it’s a good problem to have, but I do hope I actually complete these projects!