It’s Sleeping with Roaches and Taking Best Guesses*

As you know, dear reader, I’ve been having a bit of a rough time. A few weeks ago, blogged over at Pen and Muse about writing and depression, and though I’ve come out of the darkness, I find myself stressed out and exhausted. The Day Job has been relentless (I’m just coming off of six days in a row, most 9 hour shifts), and even my days off aren’t truly days off. I finally, FINALLY realize what’s wrong.

I’ve fallen into the same pattern of neglecting myself, and this has thrown the metaphorical wrench into my writing life.

I slated writing as another line on the epic “to do” list that is my life. Once I finished the draft of my second MS, it was all about needing to fix the first. I sat down to this task and fried my wires before I’d even started. I tried drawing plot maps, outlining (that’s when I know I’m out of it), and though I could talk about the changes I wanted and why I wanted them, doing it was fucking impossible.

Kelly, my darling CP, suggested I take a break. Don’t think about it. Don’t open the document. Rest.

I need to listen to Kelly more often. For the last few days I’ve done nothing because I stopped berating myself over NOT doing it. Sometimes you need glut yourself on other things:

  • Plug in and rock out: I’ve listened to A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out by Panic! at the Disco so many times, it’s borderline obscene.
  • Read books that aren’t your own: I finally cracked open Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds. I cannot express to you in words how in love with this book I am. If you’re not reading him, get your ass to a bookstore or buy it off Amazon. Immediately.
  • Get out of the house: I have trouble with this one. It’s usually work-home-bed-work, but I was off by 2pm Saturday and I took my happy ass to the mall. Tax returns AND a 15% off coupon for Sephora? A deal I will not pass up. Nothing revives me like shiny new makeup and kickass lipstick.
  • Get out of your head! This, too, I struggle with. Recently, my friend Delilah hopped on her Twitter Soapbox about what it means to be a writer, which you can read here. You don’t need a fancy degree or a muse or a ritualistic blood sacrifice to Satan. If you write, you’re a writer. That doesn’t mean you’ll never feel insecure, even after getting an agent or getting published. Part of you will always wonder if you’re good enough, if your That’s okay. “Complacency is the enemy of growth.” I’m ridiculously lucky to have her as a friend.
  • Fuel something you enjoy: It’s no secret by now that I LOVE weird medical history and when I stumbled upon Sawbones podcast, it was like creep girl heaven! I listened to the episode on Reanimation (ok, I MAY have cheated on the not thinking about your own work rule with that one), and not only are Justin and Sydnee hilarious, I learned some amazing new things about 1700-1800 theory and practice, and what and WHOM may have inspired Mary Shelley to pen Frankenstein.

I feel SO MUCH BETTER. The narrative style of Blackbirds helped me realize the direction I’m going with The Killing Type is the right direction. I’m going to be fine. Feeding my mind with different writers, better writers, helps me better myself. Drink it up!

Effective immediately, writing is no longer relegated to the “to do” list. Writing needs to be what it always has been: my escape. I’m not on deadlines. I have no one to answer to. Sure, that’ll change when I’m agented, but for now, I’m not racing against a clock and shouldn’t make myself crazy over nothing.

As Delilah told me the other night: “YOU REMIND ME OF THE BABE (what babe?) THE BABE WHO SHOULD GET HER ASS BEHIND THE KEYBOARD AND WRITE.”

You can find Delilah on Twitter @DelilahSDawson, and at WhimsyDark.com. I strongly suggest you follow her, and not just for her Labyrinth references.

You can find Chuck Wendig at @ChuckWendig, and at TerribleMinds.com, especially if you like profanity-laced advice.

I’ve got a book to revise, darlings, so let’s play a game. Let’s play… murder.

*Title taken from “Build God, Then We’ll Talk,” by Panic! at the Disco. I might just really love that song. Go listen to it.

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