Screaming is a reasonable response to November.
Nov 02, 2020 9:21 pm
Are we all buckled in for Hell Month? Because that’s what November’s looking like. Between the US elections and NaNoWriMo and just--you know--the world, there’s a lot to be stressed about.
Okay, BUT. Focusing on all the doom is not good for the psyche. Particularly because, short of casting a ballot, there’s very little we can do about it. It’s up to other people now. That’s so frustrating, but it is a fact.
We all have to get through November somehow.
That may mean losing yourself in NaNoWriMo. It may mean not writing at all. Or maybe you should journal. Or try a different hobby, completely divorced from the expectations surrounding writing.
Or it may mean having a good, long, loud scream. That’s important, too. The world is on fire and it’s 100% valid to need to have a good freak-out about it! This article in Slate (“Let’s Just Lie on the Floor and Scream Together”) rails against the idea that self-care has to be healthy, or good, or mindful, or productive. It doesn’t.
The things people typically label “self-care” only count as such if they make you happier. At least, that’s how I always think of it. Which in my mind means indulge yourself. Go ahead and have a cupcake or a glass of wine or whatever your vice of choice is. No one’s going to fault you for grating some extra cheese into your dinner.
Here I’ve gathered a bunch of things that bring me joy and make me feel better overall. I hope they help you find inspiration as you look for coping mechanisms. As with writing advice, take the bits you like and leave the ones you don’t.
Don’t forget to keep your creative well filled! Jot down a list of your favorite books, movies, immersive games, and music so you have something to pull from when you need a pick-me-up.
For myself I’ve made a list of things to watch during my staycation this month. I think I’m most excited to finish watching The Ghost Bride on Netflix. It’s based on the novel by Yangsze Choo which was also excellent. Set in 1890s Malaya, Li Lan is haunted by the ghost of a wealthy young man who still wants to marry her from beyond the grave. The show funny and poignant and romantic, despite that summary (also creepy!).
I’m almost done reading Brigid Kemmerer’s sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely, a YA series inspired by Beauty & the Beast that blew me away. The prince and his sole surviving guard are forced by the sorceress to keep reliving one terrible season, each time bringing in a new girl in hopes she will be the one to break the curse. But betrayal abounds. The last in the trilogy comes out in January, and I can’t wait!
I usually listen to playlists I make for each writing project, but I recently remembered I have an automatically generated playlist of my top-rated songs. Excellent! I’m enjoying old favorites like The Goo Goo Dolls, Fiona Apple, Matchbox Twenty, No Doubt and Vanessa Carlton. And even older favorites like Queen and the Beatles. In newer fare, I love Lizzo, and the HU--if you need epic music to write to, check out these Mongolian hard rockers!
If you’re voting this Tuesday you may end up waiting in line, so load up your phone with podcast episodes! I’ve updated my list of Podcast Recommendations for Writers with my favorite listens.
Make yourself something delicious. A family friend shared this recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread and I’m dying to try it with my GF flour and egg replacer. For me it will be an involved process (No tinned pumpkin puree here! And no appreciation for good chocolate chips.) but clearly worth it. If baking isn’t in your skillset, might I suggest the humble but exquisite microwave s’more? Three pre-made ingredients nuked for less than 30 seconds. Magnificent.
Care for your physical health. In my post this past month on Taking Care of Yourself During NaNoWriMo I linked a bunch of great writer-relevant yoga videos, and outlined my strategies for keeping happy and healthy.
Finally, care for your mental health. If you are approaching burnout, talk to someone. This is an extraordinarily difficult year, and we all need help at times. Remember that commiserating with friends can be awesome, and sometimes you may need to go the extra step and talk to a doctor. There is no shame in that.
When all else fails, scream.
The Monster Novel Structure Workbook
Now with print-at-home file!