I don't. I really don't.
The week has been, overall, fine. I have made more notes for The Twin Etheriums, which is the working title for the Extremely Gay Prequel to The Moon Etherium. The Twin Etheriums now has protagonists and an outline, although I am not exactly happy with the outline. I am going to work on it some more and then try to cadge some friends into telling me if they think it'll make a good book. At present, the outline has an A plot and a B plot, and the B plot resolves waaaaay after the A plot, which does not strike me as optimal. So I'm going to try to beat the two plots into resolving closer together.
I have been working on mental hygiene, I guess you could call it? Specifically, I have been trying to dismantle the mental process that tells me "you NEED to be writing/editing/PRODUCING STUFF!" On the one hand, this feels like a dangerous choice: how will I keep making stuff if I don't set goals and expectations for myself? What happens if I start thinking that I have value outside of my ability to make things?
And on the other hand WOW UNHEALTHY MUCH GIRL??? Have I seriously designed an entire mental process around telling myself that I suck unless I'm churning out material? Yes. Yes I have. Why did this seem like a good idea. I don't know.
Ursula Vernon makes jokes about her anxiety kicking in if she's not working: "I gotta go write another book or I'll die in a ditch next to Wal-Mart." This is a great joke, but ... uh ... I do not want this as my role model. I do not suffer from anxiety, as a rule. My brain dysfunction of choice is depression. "I gotta write another book or I'll fall into the Pit of Eternal Despair." I don't want THAT as a role model, either. I want "I gotta write another book so I'll be able to read it." My next book's purposes is not to save me from poverty or death or despair. Its purpose is to be a fun thing to read. That should be enough.
That needs to be enough.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a blog post on productivity this week. One thing she wrote in it struck me:
"1,000 words of new material five days per week is 5,000 words per week, or 260,000 words of new material per year. That’s about three 90,000 word novels. Three novels is prolific by traditional publishing standards—hell, by any standards."
I wrote 330,000 words last year. I published three books last year and I expect to publish three books this year as well.
I do not feel prolific. I feel like I'm blundering along at the same sluggish pace that I took to write Prophecy, to be honest. But there is Kristine Rusch -- a blogger who has high expectations of writers, who believes in producing a high volume of work at a consistent, focused pace -- writing that three novels is prolific by any standards.
I kind of want to frame that and put it on my wall or my desktop or something. Perspective. I need it.
But to get back to my earlier point: tying my self-worth to my productivity is Not Good. First, it's just wrong. If I told someone else "you're worthless if you're not making anything", I would slap myself. More importantly, it's counterproductive. Being miserable doesn't make me more creative! It just makes me miserable! My first rule of depression is "do not beat yourself up for being depressed." The corollary of that is "don't beat yourself up about the things you aren't doing because you're depressed." Maybe just "don't beat yourself up at all." Save guilt for the prevention of immoral and unethical acts. Girl, writing 1000 words a day is not a moral imperative.
So I am tuning the mental process of "you NEED to do author stuff" to "oh hey, you could be doing author stuff, no pressure though." When I'm bored or have some idle time, I'll think "I could use this time to write/edit/etc." But I am pruning away the part that continues "and if you DON'T that's because you're USELESS and BAD and you'll never finish another book EVER AGAIN."
I'm astonished that consciously deciding not to fall into a particular thought pattern has actually been working, but it has so far. o_o Might just be coincidence.
Anyway, I don't want goals right now. At the end of March, I will write up my usual "this is what I accomplished" post, and whatever it is, it will be enough.
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