Underwhelming. That about sums up how my July went.
I didn’t get very far into drafting my new project. You might even say no progress was made on that front. I’ve been slowly and steadily working on my outline, building out the world, and brainstorming ideas for the series as a whole. I’ve also been doing a fair bit of research, too. It’s turned out to be more work than I expected it to be. But in terms of the actual draft – my word count is a big ol’ robin’s egg.
Since the middle of the month, I’ve tried to make it a point to take my time and I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. Mostly I’ve been thinking about what I really want, and how I can get myself there in a way that is sustainable and healthy.
I’ve been deluding myself into believing that if I can continue to work hard and push myself to be productive, I won’t feel the draining effects of the situation the world is currently facing, and that just isn’t true. And this month has proved it. I’m swamped at work, hunting for a new job in a struggling job market and my mental health has been pretty poor since the beginning of April. When the lockdown began, I suddenly had a lot more free time, and I felt it was important that I utilize that time. I wanted to get a lot of work done and essentially use this unusual break in my normal routine to “catch up”, completely disregarding any potential side effects as a result of being stuck at home all the time and being pelted with bad news on a daily basis.
I was posting almost every single day on my blog at the start of April and I definitely noticed a growth spike (which made sense – everyone else was stuck at home and looking for something to do). I knew a lot of indie authors were doing really well because people were reading more, and it made me want to work much harder to churn out a draft. I finished a short story that has been stuck in an editing hiatus ever since and I’ve deliberated many times on what novel to work on. But the mentality remained the same – if I wasn’t using this time to be productive and get work done, I was wasting it. And given everything going on in the world, that simply isn’t true.
It was especially bad once I went back to work because working during a pandemic was (and still is) stress-inducing and exhausting on a level I was not expecting. Hours were heavily reduced, and so the mentality persisted – get shit done. Don’t waste this time. I know my generation has a particular proclivity for trying to live on fast forward. Life is precious and it’s important to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, unexpected or not. It doesn’t help when you’re surrounded by other success stories on social media.
But I think there is something to be said about being too exhausted or ill-equipped to make the best of those opportunities when you’re spread too thin or you’ve worn yourself out. It’s important to give yourself the time and space to breathe and to contemplate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
I gravitated to the feeling of normalcy that outlining a novel or writing a blog post was able (and still does) give me. I let it distract me from actually dealing with the fear and anxiety, but the bill comes due regardless. I just feel burnt out, stressed, and intensely indecisive about my work. I’m not feeling particularly motivated, and when I am my energy is short-lived.
I’m trying to remember that it’s okay to take my time and that I don’t have to do everything at impossible speeds, especially in 2020. It has not been a forgiving year for any of us. I shouldn’t (and most importantly won’t) beat myself up over this Camp NaNo failure. I’ve made progress, and I’m going to continue to make progress. But at a speed that is a little kinder to me.
How was your July? Did you reach any of your goals? Have you been remembering to take care of yourself or are you struggling as I am? What have you done to help keep yourself motivated? Let’s chat in the comments!