The Writer’s Pursuit of Health – Writing Down the Emotional Rabbit Hole

 

The Writer's Pursuit of Health, Writing and Working Out, Lissa Clouser, Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society, health, writing, mental health, emotional health

I’ve never been properly, officially diagnosed with any sort of mental illness, but let’s just say that I’m well aware my emotions and sometimes coping habits range outside of the norm. This makes it very, very easy to get “stuck” in a non-productive, unhealthy mental state. We’re talking about more than “I had a bad day at work” stuck. We’re talking about sitting in the bath tub crying because you are vividly imagining the aftermath of the deaths of everyone you know and you can’t stop. There’s no ‘off’ button once the process starts. Sounds fun, right? Thankfully it’s not something I deal with all the time.

The emotional rabbit hole is deep. It’s deep enough on the good days, extra deep on the bad days, and when you’re a writer who delves into the emotional for a (hopefully one day) living? We’re talking black hole deep if you aren’t careful.

Over the last several years I have learned to twist this toward my advantage. Several of my poems deal with some extra sticky (think big, fluffy, stab-you-in-the-leg-when-you-walk-through-it field of burrs sticky) memories. Things I have lost sleep over. Things I could have filled a bathtub with tears over. Things that to this day make me feel like a chunk of my insides are missing. And yet I write. Continue reading

The Writer’s Pursuit of Health – Writing and Working Out

The Writer's Pursuit of Health, Writing and Working Out, Michelle Pierce, Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society, health, writing, exercise

About four years ago, I came to the conclusion that I really, really needed to start exercising. I’m a web developer, so I sit in front of a computer all day. And then I like to write, so I sit in front of my computer all night. I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to be stationary all day, I knew I wasn’t eating as well as I should’ve, and so finally I hit the moment that was “I have to do something about this.”

It wasn’t like something big or horrible happened. It was just the slow realization that if I continued as I was, in a few years, I wouldn’t be very happy with how I looked or how I felt, and my risks for a number of diseases that run in my family would skyrocket. And the longer it took me to get started on a healthier lifestyle, the harder it would be for me to stick with it when I finally got there.

For years I’d had a goal like “lose 10 pounds” or whatever as one of my New Year’s resolutions, and for years, I’d never hit it. That year, I switched it up to “work out at LEAST 3 days a week.” I figured I would see if I could stick to a 3-day-a-week plan, and if so, I’d bump it up to 5 days for the next year. Even if I didn’t lose any weight, at least I would be building the habit of being active on a regular basis, and that could only be good, right?

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The Writer’s Pursuit of Health – New Series Starting August 30th!

health, writing, writers, healthy lifestyle, becoming healthy

Writing is not easy on us – either mentally, or physically.

Depending on the type of content we write, it can mess with our mood and put us in a strange sort of head space where our characters are more real than anything else – and that’s not always a good thing. The act of writing can also inadvertently dig things up from our past, things we didn’t realize still needed to be dealt with, if we even knew about it at all.

And those hours we spend staring at an artificially lit computer screen, hunched over a keyboard, pounding away until our fingers and wrists ache. And our heads ache. Because we weren’t made to stare at a computer screen only inches away from our face all. day. long.

But we do.

And we forget to eat. Or we get so busy with a story that we simply decide not to eat because it’s always “I just need to get this last thought onto paper.” And that thought grows and grows and grows… and suddenly it’s been five hours.

This isn’t even taking actual illness – chronic or acute – into consideration, because we writers think we’re immortal because of our words. Sadly, our bodies don’t work that way, either.

And so we need to counter the abuse we put our bodies and minds through.

That’s what “The Writer’s Pursuit of Health” is going to tackle, starting next week. Stay tuned!

Outlining, or The Illusion Of Productivity (No wait! I actually have a plan!)

It’s back to school shopping and sale time, which is a very tempting time for writers and for any people who love the feeling of illusory productivity that one can find browsing amongst those items.

I happen to fall into both those categories, though I usually manage to restrain myself fairly well in the back to school sales. That is, mainly to things I actually need – or want – and will eventually use.

set of ten brightly-coloured Sharpie highlighters

My bright and shiny new highlighters!

I picked up a pack of highlighters recently. Note: I don’t really use highlighters. I needed a couple (in different colours) to highlight details more obviously in a proof I was submitting with some paperwork earlier this year and I had to search my house to find any. I finally did, then finally located some that worked in that assortment (one of which was mine, the other two ones my mother used) and got my project done.

It was the first time I’d used a highlighter in probably at least six years, possibly longer. So clearly picking up a pack of highlighters, however pretty – and these are pretty shiny – was the most productive purchase I could have made, right?

(Well, I have needed highlighters this year, several times, weird as that is, and using the mostly-dead ones has really not been that fun. So there’s a smidgen of justification.)

The other justification is . . . I am embarking on an outlining project.

I am embarking on an outlining project. A big one. You may recall, I don’t outline. I’m not very good at it, and it tends not to work out for the best for me as I write even if I struggle through creating one.
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Writing for Comics

I started writing a comic about this time last year, and since then I’ve managed to not only finalize the script but actually start getting pages drawn and posted. And even though it’s been a year, I have learned a lot. Mostly by learning from my mistakes.

The first thing to realize with scripting is that, even though you’re still putting words on a page, is that the script isn’t the final product. In this case, the comic is. But this is also true for scripts for film or stage or games. Unlike writing short stories or novels, where the words and how they appear on the page are the final product, the script is just a stepping stone.  Continue reading

The Art of Guestbooking

How often do you fill out the guestbook when you stay somewhere away from home?

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Click me to read full entry!

Many people may shy away from filling out the guestbook simply because they aren’t sure what to write. If you clam up when it comes to words, at least jotting down where you came from and what brought you to your current location will be appreciated by the guestbook owner!

As writers (and generally goofy people) we have a lot of fun taking our guestbook entries one step further. For example, instead of saying “the goats were cute, but the bugs sucked” in this entry from our stay at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, we opened with, “We were much pleased with the use of goats in your meadow; the use of bugs, however, left something to be desired. (With the exception of the Lunar Moth package we received.)” Continue reading

Are You Going to Camp? (Camp NaNo, That Is!)

Have you wanted to try National Novel Writing Month, but honestly the idea of trying to write a novel in November just seems too overwhelming with all the holidays?

Or you’d like to try it, but the 50,000 word mark seems impossible to hit for someone who writes primarily short things?

Or do you just miss the word count goals, tracking, and overall productivity and encouragement from NaNo?

Then it might be time to give Camp NaNoWriMo a try.

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Favorite Writing Rules To Break – Flashbacks

Writing rules – and our favorite ones to break – has been a topic that repeatedly comes up at Ferret Business Meetings when we’re just chattering. (Yes, we have business meetings! Those are what keeps this blog on track!) One of the more common sayings in the writing community is that you have to know the writing rules before you break them, so you know how and when to break them properly.

But sometimes writing ‘rules’ are really writing pet peeves, and so much of it is dependent on genre. (Note: we are not talking about grammar rules here. Those are necessary, and while they can be bent, most of them cannot be completely broken. Learn them. Know them. Become one with them.)

In the last few years in the writing world, especially those who write/read fantasy, I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about flashbacks. It took me a bit by surprise. Continue reading

The Off-Balancing Act: Making Time for Art

ff-balancing act, creative balance, healthy boundaries, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, writing, writers, advice for writers

We created the lovely banner with the picture Lazy Limbs by Michael via Flickr’s Creative Commons with the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. The image was slightly resized, and our text added. No other changes made.

You might notice that for this series we posted out of our normal order. This would be because on May 7th I jumped on an airplane to leave the country for awhile and wouldn’t be back until very late the 25th. I believe it was sometime on May 5th that I panicked and finally realized amidst working my day job, packing, and cleaning house that there was absolutely no way to make this post happen before I left. Quick messages went to Serena and Eris and they kindly agreed to each post a week early, giving me the spot to wrap up this whole series… how appropriate!

I have the exact opposite problem of Serena (at least in some ways) when it comes to balancing art vs. life. (Click here for her post if you haven’t read it.) I find it extremely difficult to allow art any time in my life when there is laundry to do, errands to run, dinner to make, and a puppy to cuddle. In short, if there is literally anything I should do (or think I should do) that is not art… I am convinced that must come FIRST. Let me tell you how many times I have gotten every corner of my house in perfect order so that I had time to write…

I’m not quite sure why I’m this way, but it’s been me for as long as I can remember. Responsibilities come first, and I’m brilliant at coming up with an absurd number of responsibilities. I guess I feel like I’m ‘cheating’ at life when I take time away from all of the ‘should do’s’ to do anything creative. I have a hard time convincing myself that making art a ‘should do’ is okay. Encouraged even, when one wants to become a creative artist of some kind. It’s hard to be a poet when all one does is dishes…

On my personal blog I brought up this topic back in January. (You can read that post here if you’d like.) When I began this year, I wanted to devote time to trying to find a happy creative balance in my life. The first step in doing this was figuring out when I was spending time on creative things (reading, writing, blogging, other creative pursuits) and how much time I was giving to them. That’s what I’ve been tracking for the first half of this year. The numbers are dismal. No wonder I’m not getting anywhere fast!

But it’s been good for me to see what I’m accomplishing and what I’m not. I’m starting to notice a trend of when I do creative work most easily, how long of a single sitting still gets me productivity, and what things I am and am not giving time to. It’s hard to set new goals when you don’t have a firm grasp of where you already stand.

I’m going to keep up with tracking stats, so to speak, through the end of June. Beginning with July and the start of the second half of the year, I’m going to do my best to give myself new challenges to start altering the allowances I give creativity in my life. I don’t expect to ever achieve perfect balance. No one has that. But by being aware of the time I am spending on creativity out of the available time that I have, I can learn to be more productive in chasing my dreams.

All creative artists look for some sense of balance between their ‘real’ life and their ‘creative’ life (although each artist has a different sense of where they want that balance to lie). How are you supposed to achieve that personal sense of balance if you don’t even know how your time is being spent?

Do you know how your time is being spent on the creative pursuits in your life? Are you anywhere near the balance of life vs. creativity that you want to achieve? What are you doing to find your own balance?