Well, I wound up not doing much writing last night. I was going to play a game, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, for a couple of hours and then get down to writing, but then it was almost midnight and I’d written nothing. So I wrote a bit so I could maintain my National Novel Writing Month streak and then went back to gaming. Between the last two nights, I’ve gotten about seven hours of sleep. Needless to say, I’m no longer allowed to play that game on week nights. It’s too addicting. I literally made excuses to keep playing for just one more quest/fight/look at the kingdom map/trip to the shopkeeper to sell something I decided I didn’t need from seven until one thirty in the morning.
Today, Fallout 76 comes out and I get a long anticipated book, Seth Abramson’s Proof of Collusion, so I’m going to be doing my best to stay focused and writing tonight. We’ll see how it goes, though. I have been using a therapy light at work and its been helping enormously, but it can’t exactly make up for the low amount of sleep I’ve been getting. That being said, it’s been helping far more than I anticipated or even hoped. For example, it’s telling that I forgot there was a difference between being tired from not getting enough rest and being tired because I’m incredibly depressed. I now remember what the difference is and feel more capable of handling my lack of sleep because I’ve been spending thirty or more minutes every morning with the lamp on while I do stuff on my work computer. I like it so much I’m going to be getting myself one for home use since I do not want to be without the incredible benefits of this device. I’m willing to bet some of this is the placebo effect, but it’s such a big change that I can’t write all of it off to that. It’s like night and day. I was down and ready for a long week of feeling depressed on Monday morning, but then I plugged in the therapy lamp.
If you can spare the money for one and struggle with depression that is generally worse in the winter months when you’re getting less sunlight, I suggest getting one for yourself. If you suffer from any kind of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I suggest getting one of these therapy lights. It’s really helpful and the UV protected ones don’t hurt your eyes if you wind up looking into them. I’m still figuring this whole thing out so I can’t speak to all of the benefits since I’m having trouble pinpointing exactly how it makes me feel, so I’ll probably write about this again sometime. Plus, I want to give it some time to see its effects in the long-term.
I’ve had so much going on lately that I really enjoyed being able to set everything aside to just play video games for a couple of days and there’s still a part of me that wants to keep doing that since writing for any length of time is hard work. With my grandfather, the changing seasons, the slow shift of my country’s government toward authoritarianism, the uncomfortable truth that we’re probably dooming our planet, and the unfortunate truth of life that every relationship I have won’t necessarily be what I want it to be no matter what I do, I’ve had a lot of big subjects on my mind. Video games are a way to escape them and writing, for me, is a way to come to terms with them. To process them. Which means it’s a lot of work to write anything because there are all these weighty emotions struggling for attention inside me and I need to be mindful of their influence so I can address them properly instead of having them spill into everything. I just feel like my mind is pretty cluttered right now and trying to pull out the right bits for writing is taking a lot more work than it usually does. It’s really tempting to not do that work and focus on resting instead. It’s also probably healthy to do that since I probably need an extended break from all of this writing and day job stuff since I use a break from one to focus on the other or just try to jam both into every day of my life.
As I told someone this morning, my main trait is will power. If it’s an absolute thing, like posting or writing every day, I can do it. I talked with them about this other thing in a more complimentary light originally, but further reflection has made it pretty clear that, tied in with the will power thing, my main vice is obsession. Surprise, the guy with severe OCD tends to get obsessed with things easily. I can make it work for me, usually in the form of making me stick with habits no matter how difficult or tiring they sound at any given time, but there are times it gets out of hand. Any time I push myself too hard with my writing or my work, any time I get too focused on details or minutiae, any time I get a dumb thought stuck in my head, that’s the obsession. It’s also why I have a hard time relaxing or doing nothing. It’s why I never just take vacations. I mean, I haven’t taken a day off of posting or writing in over a year. That’s a long time to go without a break. I’ve tried to get a blog post buffer set up so I can take a few days off of writing, but I always wind up writing anyway.
I don’t really have a conclusion here, I’m just trying to be more honest with myself about the positive and negative aspects of my life and how I spend my time. It’s almost as if I’ve had to confront mortality lately. Sure, it’s indirect, but it’s there. Nothing lasts forever and I want to make sure I’m acting in my own long-term best interest without (and this is the new part) making too many sacrifices here and now. The long-term is great, but nothing is worth three years of misery or living like a pauper or constantly engaging in a vicious cycle of burning myself out and subsequently crashing until I’ve recovered just enough to start working again.
Sorry if you came here looking for something upbeat or positive. I’ll pencil that in for later this week once I’ve gotten more sleep and untangled the web of emotions and thoughts that’s tying me up right now. I hope your month is going well, though, and today especially. I hope your writing goals are going swimmingly and I want to remind you, as I’m constantly reminding myself these days, that goals are important since they give us something to strive for, but make sure they’re something within reach and don’t be afraid to reassess if something changes your reach. Good luck!
Everyone needs to blow off some steam occasionally. Stress tends to build up rather quickly when you’re the protagonist of a story. How does your protagonist try to relax when it seems like they’re drowning in stress? Do they even get a chance to catch their breath, or are they constantly being harried and unable to take a break to get themselves in order? Write a scene in which your protagonist tries to relax. Whether they succeed or not is entirely up to you, but show us how they handle their stress and their success or failure since a failure is bound to only make them feel worse and success could give them an opportunity to reflect and grow.
One of my all-time favorite books is “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. In terms of complex and skilled writing, I’d rank him near the top of all writers I’ve ever read. I’m willing to concede this is just my opinion, but I could make a strong argument given the foreshadowing, complexity of storytelling, and just how much information there is that could be foreshadowing but maybe is just world information. We don’t know yet! The story isn’t finished and there’s just so much left to resolve that it’d be impossible to wrap it all up in just one book. There’s no guarantee that all of it will get wrapped up or nicely tied together, but I can hope. I love his writing because it gives me something to aspire to as a writer.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Trying to work through a difficult passage? Grab a book that does something similar to what you’re trying! Not sure if what you’re trying to convey is coming out in your writing and it’s a big enough thing that you want to get it worked out right now? Find an alpha reader! Share your work with them and get their thoughts! Not sure how to move along with the current scene and unable to figure out where you can skip ahead to? Ask other writers for advice or suggestions! My inbox and the comments on my blog are always open if you’ve got questions or just need someone to talk to who gets the struggles of writing. There’s nothing wrong with opening up a bit to dump out some of the stuff going on in your head. That’s part of why I write this blog. There are many reasons, of course, but it’s super helpful to have a place I can dump all this out. I can’t promise I’ll always respond right away, but I can promise I will eventually respond.