On Stress, Mental Health, and Productivity

Hello friends!

Let’s talk about mental health.

When you’re giving so much of your energy to a creative project, it can be difficult to remember to take care of yourself, too. Or sometimes you get in a funk and creativity is hard.

For me, being creative has always been a way I destress. Something bad happening in life or the world in general? I write. Something on my mind that I can’t deal with? Time to write!

The best example of this that comes to mind is November 2020. I was participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which I’ve done on and off for the last decade with a fair amount of success) with the goal of writing a trilogy of prequel novellas. The first ten days I dedicated to Jekk’s novella, and that first week also involved the US Presidential Election. As a queer woman of color in America, I kind of have to care about politics, and when it became clear the race was too close to call for nearly five days, I took all of my stress about that and in the first week of November, I wrote twenty thousand words.

For those of you who aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write fifty thousand words of a novel in the month of November. And it is supposed to be a challenge. For me, most years, it has been. Finding the time to write fifty thousand words in thirty days is hard! And yet, in the first week of November 2020, I completed almost half of that. Yes, I was finding Jekk’s story to be very easy to write, but I also had more stress than I knew what to do with and I coped with it the best way I knew how: by writing.

I’m not gonna sit here and say this is healthy. And I absolutely can’t advocate writing as a coping mechanism because that doesn’t work for everyone. Hell, it doesn’t even work for me all of the time. In the last month, I’ve been stressed by life and work and instead of channeling that into writing, I basically spiralled into depression for a week and cried a lot while my partner fed me grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone is different, and every situation is unique. Sometimes stress makes you shut down creatively or need to step back from your work, and you should do what’s healthiest for you.

Take care, lovely friends. Be healthy and well.

What I wrote this week: Draft 4, Eva’s arc

What I read this week: Caliban’s War by James SA Corey; The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

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