Hey friends! Hope that everyone has been having a lovely time since the last Mailbox Monday a month ago. I haven’t been able to post Mailbox Monday as regularly as I would have liked so I wanted to bring you a little update to you all today as to what’s been going on and also talk about something that’s been bugging me for a while now – writing with anxiety!
- WORK – Last month I spoke about not getting the full-time position for the job I currently do part-time and how it has really knocked my confidence. I had also applied for another similar job within my organization which I was interviewed for last week but was unfortunately told, yet again, that I a) don’t have enough experience and b) that I’m not concise enough in interviews. I’ve had really bad experiences with interview feedback which focuses on my communication difficulties as I already use strategies to help me in interviews and it honestly makes me feel like a pile of steaming poop when I’m basically told I’m not ‘neurotypical’ enough…
- DEPRESSION – Since I graduated from university in August, I have been pretty much stuck at home day in, day out. I’m very lucky that I now have my weekend job but the disadvantage of this is that I’m still stuck at home for 5 days out of 7 every week, every month. Because of the nature of my depression, I have a tendency to become very isolated and am unable to maintain IRL friendships, and as we don’t have much money I can’t really afford to keep going out to do things. Being stuck at home for pretty much 80% of my life at the moment is really taking its toll on my depression and leading to a lot of deprecating/ self-destructive thoughts because I feel a bit like I’m just wasting my life and not achieving anything.
- POSITIVES – On days when I’m not floored by depression & anxiety, I’m trying to invest my time in creative opportunities. Over the past 2 weeks, I have started a creative opportunities journal where I record different upcoming freelance jobs and what steps I’ve taken. So far, I have had a video game related pitch accepted for a fantastic online magazine which will be my first ever paid writing gig! I have also submitted a creative writing pitch for an anthology which I’m waiting to hear back from, and am also working towards submitting something for an online YA anthology for September!
Writing with anxiety
Which conveniently leads me to the thing I want to talk about today! For a little bit of context, I used to love creative writing and was very lucky to have encouraging teachers throughout my education. I remember the first creative story I ever wrote was effectively a little gender-bent Spyro fanfic with my mum and ever since then I loved writing stories. I got a lot of peer support in secondary school for my stories, which laughably were shared around the class in little fake exercise books so people could read them during class, and lots of people had me pegged as someone who would become an author when I was older.
Unfortunately for me, depression and anxiety would come and slap a big wet fish over those dreams – at least for now. As my mental health rapidly deteriorated I found I was unable to produce anything creative any longer. My creative writing came to an absolute standstill and it’s something I’ve not been able to overcome in the past 10 years. And by complete standstill, I literally mean that I have barely been able to write a paragraph because I become so distressed.
I do really miss creative writing and I’m frustrated because I feel like my mental illness’ has taken away so much from me – in terms of things I enjoy, aspects of my personality, and opportunities I’ve missed out on. I find myself feeling quite envious of other writers who have really bad mental illness’ as well and my brain always finds a way to twist this to use as ammunition against me. See, they can do it, so why can’t you even manage to write a few sentences? It’s because you’re terrible and you should just give up.
But I don’t want to feel like that anymore!
I’ve made various half-hearted attempts to tackle my issues around writing in the past but they’ve never been particularly fruitful. Although it’s not been great for my depression, I’m lucky that I do have a lot of time on my hands and I really want to make the most out of that. My partner is incredibly encouraging of me and really wants me to use the time to start writing again – and I do too. So, I wondered whether any of you have any advice for getting back into writing and fighting off those bad brain demons?
Things I’ve tried in the past:
- “Shut up and write!” panel – didn’t find it helpful to be told to just “get on with it”
- Writing classes – couldn’t afford to keep going
- Free writing workshops where you have X minutes to write something – became so stressed out I almost had a breakdown
- 642 things to write about book – really great for helping to generate new ideas but haven’t been able to build any of them into writing pieces
- Nanowrimo – I try every year. It’s always a complete disaster, I can’t get past the planning stage
- Writing with a plan – see above
- Writing without a plan – become super stressed out because I don’t know where to take things
- Writing with no intention of showing people – find it hard to keep up motivation
- Writing and posting online – much better for motivation but I also become paranoid about what people think, regardless of positive feedback or not
Blogging has actually really, really helped me in terms of getting words down on paper, or WordPress as it is, and getting used to producing content regularly. I’m hoping that being able to ride off the wave of that will be helpful for my creative writing but would love to hear from you all about things you’ve found helpful!
11 thoughts on “Mailbox Monday | Writing with anxiety + catch up”
I don’t have any advice, but I hope you find your love of writing again 💕 And congrats on getting your first paid writing gig! That’s amazing!
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Thank you ❤
I wish you the best of luck! I wish I had some good advice, but sadly I don’t think I have anything that would really be of much use 😦 Does your partner like to write? What might be fun and low-stress is roleplaying together, each creating a character and taking turns writing a paragraph back and forth and see what story develops. I used to do this all the time with my close friend in college, and I loved it. That way you still get some feedback but its from a limited audience and someone you trust, and not all of the effort is on your shoulders. I hope you find something that works for you!
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Thanks! My partner does art rather than writing, so we have a lot of fun, creative discussions rather than writing so at least there’s that! I tried to arrange to do something like you mentioned with a friend of mine but she was super flaky and ended up never really doing it which is a shame!
Oh honey, I understand that feeling of not being neurotypical enough to get a job. I interview terribly because my anxiety gets the better of me. I had a group interview recently where I was having an anxiety attack the entire time, just beneath the surface but it was probably pretty clear that I wasn’t doing so well.
Congratulations of getting your first paid writing gig! That’s so exciting! Definitely try focusing your attention on that, instead of your struggles. Hopefully it’ll do wonders for your confidence.
I love the idea of a gender-bent Spyro fanfic! I used to love playing Spyro as a kid and I’m so excited for the remastered edition! I’d love to read it, if you still have it and you’re comfortable with sharing it.
It’s really cool that your classmates enjoyed your writing and it was shared around the classroom in a super top secret way! That’s definitely something to be proud of, knowing your writing was so good as a kid that others would risk getting in trouble just to read it in class.
I have a lot of problems with getting myself to just write. I spend loads of time planning in my head but rarely do I sit down and just write. When I do it’s usually just quick scenes or a paragraph or so that my brain somehow managed to magic up and I don’t want to forget them.
The only advice I can give is to find someone who you know will give honest feedback, in a kind way, and already really loves your writing. I share all of my writing with my mum because she’s my biggest cheerleader and I know that if she has any critics, she’ll do it in the kindest way possible so that she doesn’t scare me off from writing. Finding someone who really gets you the best, I think, is key.
I’m sending you all the good luck I have so that hopefully you can get writing ❤
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I WISH I still had it because it was amazing but I don’t think I do 😦 The summary of it though was that it was a glittery pink girl dragon (I was very young and very indoctrinated in gendered colours) who ran around solving all of the crimes in the Spyroverse :’) It makes me happy to think of it. I am so happy about the remastered versions as well though. Gateway to Glimmer is my FAVE.
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If that ‘Shut Up and Write’ panel was at Nine Worlds (I think it might have been) then I completely feel you! I left that panel feeling worthless!
I went to a writing panel at last year’s Nine Worlds (called “It’s Research! (Or, why it’s totally ok to play Dragon Age for 100+ hours when you should be writing)”) that was far more enjoyable and made me feel better about myself. I think sometimes you see authors/aspiring authors on twitter etc. bragging about their huge, unattainable wordcounts and it can feel demoralising and like it’s not even worth trying, but the authors on that panel all only kept to small daily wordcounts and had still managed to finish books, which I found validating. I wrote it up here if you’re interested! http://howlsmovinglibrary.tumblr.com/post/164072128789/its-research-or-why-its-totally-ok-to-play
As to the planning issues/Nanowrimo anxiety, there is a set of tumblr prompts that I found really useful called plot a month which I found super useful? It breaks planning a novel down into exercises each day, so that you don’t feel like you’re tackling everything at once, and you can do it at your own pace (over a month, over three months, all in one super productive day) Each plot-a-month entry also comes with loads of useful links to things that can help if you’re having trouble sketching out that particular part of a plot. I dunno if you’ll find it useful, but when I was struggling and uncertain of where to even begin (and also struggling with exactly what a plot needed) it was just nice to have some kind of structure. It also helped me identify flaws with my writing! It’s starts here: http://fixyourwritinghabits.tumblr.com/tagged/Plot+A+Month/page/4
Ahhh thanks for this comment!! Yes – that is exactly the panel I was referring to. I was so disappointed as I thought I could pick up some really good tips to help me with my anxiety but I left the panel feeling like their answer is “just get on with it” which is definitely NOT helpful.
I was super sad I couldn’t make it to the Dragon Age panel, I was speaking on my own panel during that exact same time which was SO SAD. I’m gonna read your write up though as I wanted to go so bad. I spoke to an author recently about writing with anxiety and she said a very similar thing, even though she’s published award winning books she is very much a ’50 words a day’ kind of person and really wanted to help me understand what the writing process is ACTUALLY like, not the finished product or thousands of words a day impression a lot of people get left with.
I’m gonna go off and have a look at the link you sent as well. When I was trying really hard to get over this problem I bought like all of the NanoWrimo books as well to help but it’s still the act of just… DOING it :’)
I have no talent with creative writing, so I can’t help you there, but I do hope you find your love for it again in a way that works for you. It’s awesome that you have some things in the works for your writing. Good luck with those!
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I don’t know you that well, but I’m so proud of you setting out some goals and focusing on them! It’s hard for anyone to actually try and pursue their dreams but you’re taking steps and that’s pretty darn admirable. 🙂
I don’t have any tips – I blog, but don’t write outside of that – but I do hope you find your mojo back. Crossing my fingers for you. ❤