HalfLife, Mental Health, Writer's Block, Writing

Mental Health, HalfLife, & Positive Intentions

May is Mental Health Month, which is fitting, because a large part of this blog is going to be dedicated to exploring my own journey over the past year. It’s been about eight months since I’ve posted anything, and longer than that since I’ve sent out an update on my writing.

The writing process is tedious in itself. I have a full time job, family responsibilities, and myself on top of trying to spend time in my craft. If I didn’t have those “real life” pressures, it would probably be easier to get something done on HalfLife. However, this is real life. My life.

For nearly the last year, I haven’t been able to write.

When I sent out my HalfLife draft to Beta Readers early last spring, I dove right into the sequel book. I managed to pump out 50,000 words in a very short time, but when I got the beta notes back, it was like I froze. A writer’s block in the worst way hit me. I would try and try and try again to rework the manuscript, to find the spots that needed the most work, to heed the advice of my Betas.

The truth is: I wasn’t doing well.

I hadn’t been for a couple of years. A year ago, I spent all of my time in bed if I wasn’t at work. I didn’t hang out with people. In fact, I actively avoided them. I literally only did the things I was obligated to do. There were periods of time where the only people who saw me were my parents because I was living with them.

I was really struggling. I’d lost people in my life, dealt with family issues, and my parents flooded in 2016. By the Spring of 2017, I was a mess. I tried dating, which I don’t really do, and my anxiety was horrendous. I’m talking three hour anxiety attacks beforehand. I didn’t know how to handle the way that I was feeling.

This week marks one year since I started seeing my therapist.

When I first went, I felt hopeless. I was at my lowest point. I felt alone, and lost, and scared. To this day, talking about how I was feeling then will make me cry because that’s a scary place to be. Logically, I knew that my thought processes were ridiculous, but emotionally, I had convinced myself that I had no worth, that I had pushed away everyone important to me, and that I was a burden on the world. Looking back on it makes me cry because I’m terrified of being that person again. That was a scary place to be, and I never want to go back there.

It was hard at first to admit that I was in therapy. When I was leaving early every week, I’d tell my coworkers that I was leaving for a doctor’s appointment. It took a good six months before I was comfortable even telling people outside of my immediate family that I was in therapy. At the time, it made me feel weak, like I was admitting to not being this strong person that I was for other people.

A year later, I know that taking that first step was the strongest thing that I have ever done.

I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year. I’ve changed. I still have anxiety. I still have depressive episodes, but I’ve learned how to manage them. I’ve also learned that I have to be gentle with myself. I’m my own worst critic. For the most part, this change has been positive, but not everyone has been supportive on my journey. As a result, I’ve had to say goodbye along the way. But through that goodbye, I was able to realize the people who are supportive. I am so lucky to have people that still care even when I blew them off for months (even a year!) because I was going through a hard time.

So how does this relate to my writing?

When I’m not well, the creative side of my brain shuts down. I go into survivor mode. Do the bare minimum. I’m finally in a place where my creative brain is working again. I have a clear plan for HalfLife, and I’m working to make the time to get through it.

This is my plan:
–rework the entire first half of the novel to increase and establish actual stakes early on
–character development (some names are changing & developing more concrete backstories)
–Building up the story so the ending doesn’t feel like a big bomb going off without any build up.

I have at least this draft and a round of heavy edits before this is ready for anyone else to look at. To those who beta read for me last year, thank you, and I’m sorry. That draft wasn’t ready for anyone’s eyes. I may be looking to do another beta read, but when that time comes, I’ll be asking different people so I have fresh eyes on the manuscript.

So, I’m here, I’m better, and every day I move more toward my goal of being published. Thank you to those who have stuck around. This is only the beginning.

Love,
Abbie

PS: if you or someone you know is struggling, please know that there are resources out there designed to help. I know it’s scary to admit you’re struggling. Just remember, you have made it through 100% of your bad days. If there’s anything I can do to help, please reach out to me at abbiewritesx@gmail.com. I would be happy to help in any way that I can.

HalfLife, Writer's Block, Writing

When You Just Don’t Wanna…

I am blessed to have the things I do in my life. I’ve got a great family, wonderfully supportive friends, and a good job. But sometimes, it can be hard to balance everything in my life and writing. By the time I get home from work, eat dinner, and shower, I don’t have the energy to write most days. Those are the days I feel like a failure.

I always have this mindset of ‘I should be writing’.

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Many echo the sentiment of “if I didn’t have a day job, life would be so much easier.” Well, yes. Not because I don’t want to work, but because I want to be able to spend my hours on my craft. Instead I’m making ends meet at a normal, weekday office job. Juggling life can be difficult. There have been a lot of times where I’ve gotten overwhelmed with the amount of things that I have to do AND write. Partner my responsibilities with the fact that my brain doesn’t normally work right until 10 PM, let’s just say a lot of writing goes undone during the week.

So, this is to all of you who know you should be doing something else, but aren’t. And if you just don’t wanna, that’s okay. It’s a phase.

But make sure it stays just a phase.

As I’ve said before, I started working on HALFLIFE when I graduated high school (10 years ago next month…holy cow!), but I haven’t been constantly working on it. I got into a mode of I don’t wanna and it took years for me to get out of it. Who knows? If I had been able to keep the I don’t wanna to a minimum, there’s a chance HALFLIFE would be published.

All I can do now is keep the I don’t wanna to a minimum and jump back in as soon as inspiration strikes…even if it is at 10 PM on a Wednesday evening. When inspiration strikes, you have to run with it.

Normally, the I don’t wanna phases come when I’m avoiding something in my writing. Whether it’s a painful scene that I’m afraid to write, or a plot point that I absolutely hate, it’s something I’ve had to push through. Writer’s block doesn’t help in these situations either. But, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter if a draft is bad. The important thing is to get the story down.

How do I battle the I don’t wanna? I normally find another world to disappear into for a little while. Most of the time it’s a book. Other times, it’s television or movies. Currently, I’m watching The White Queen series from Starz. Also, having the house to myself for an entire day will help this coming weekend. 🙂

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So, where am I at in the process? I spent an hour on the phone last week with Lauren going over beta reader notes. She’s doing a line-by-line edit for me. As soon as she’s done, I’ll be jumping into edits of HALFLIFE. I’ve also got a lot of work I need to do on the prologue (this was the last thing I’d written in the prior draft, and I had lots of notes from betas on it). In the meantime, I’m still working on book two. Progress has slowed, but I am at 50,000 words and about halfway through the first draft.

I’ve also been reading like crazy. I intend on posting another book review soon for POSSESSION by Elana Johnson (if you’re on goodreads, feel free to add me: https://www.goodreads.com/babbzabbz; I’ve already posted my rating over there). I started reading LEGION by Marie Lu this week. So far, I’m really enjoying it, which wasn’t the case with POSSESSION.

What are some books you’re reading? If you have a suggestion of a book you’d like to see me review, drop it in the comments or reach out to me at one of my social media sites.

As always, thanks for reading,
Abbie