Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Think I have Mental Arthritis

A little while back I mentioned that writing is very much like exercise. The long and the short of the comparison was this: it takes effort to motivate yourself to do either activity, but once you start you feel better and easily continue for some time; feeling satisfied with your progress after you're done. I have also pointed out over the course of this blog that a lot of writing motivational tricks also work exceptionally well when used for exercising.

Well, this Writing Is Exercise metaphor continues today.

There was an arthritis medication commercial that aired for a year or so. The basic premise of the commercial was to use Newton's First Law of Motion as a selling point: An object at rest will stay at rest; one in motion will stay in motion. The commercial continued on by commenting on the Catch 22 of arthritis: you won't move because the arthritis hurts you to move, but moving is actually the only way to ease the pain of arthritis. So, this drug is supposed to help ease the pain of arthritis enough that you can move to prevent further arthritic damage and pain.

In other words, people with arthritis need to purposely keep moving the joint that is affected by arthritis. They need to exercise to keep from getting worse. They need to exercise to help ease the pain – after toughing through the initial pain of starting the exercise – and to prevent further damage. If they give up and not move because it's hard or it hurts they'll just get worse.

Also, as an emotional side effect, they'll get grumpier and sadder. They'll be angry with their body and the pain. They'll be saddened by the fact that they can no longer do what they love or join in on the social fun, or even keep their house clean by themselves. They'll be stuck; arthritically forced to stay still.

On the flipside, if they can power through the initial pain they can stop themselves from getting any worse. They can still enjoy an autonomous life. They don't have to be angry at their joints for forcing them to stay still. They can defy their body and tell it that they're not quitting yet!

How does all of this relate to writing though?

Well, at least for me, my brain is the arthritic joint.

It's so hard to get it moving. So hard for me to focus and think creatively. I get so frustrated with the stories not flowing as easily as they did in my youth; just like a joint acting up. It's a struggle to get going.

Most days I submit to this mental equivalent of arthritis and just sit here. I don't even do the most minor of exercises to keep it from locking up. I just click away on Facebook or absentmindedly watch TV.

That's when I get cranky. REALLY cranky. Heck, even celestialTyrant has noticed. It's part “the world's dragging me down, man” but it's also part frustration for caving in to my Mental Arthritis. Annoyed that I haven't tried harder to push through that initial strain so that I could do some writing.

I'm not entirely sure when – and I'm not about to scan through over a hundred posts to try to find something I may have only had as a Facebook status – but I once posed a Chicken or Egg quandary about writing. Do I not write because I'm frustrated, stressed, or depressed? Or am I frustrated, stressed, or depressed because I'm not writing?

Now I'd like to state that it's all about Mental Arthritis.

Life is hard. It's not nearly as hard as it can be, but it's not all that easy either. All that stress and strain of the everyday grind is like arthritis pain flaring up. I can just succumb to it all, sit in my chair, and refuse to move. I can let it all build up. I can not write – not move the arthritic joint – and let the pain compound. I can blame the pain for not doing what I need to; want to. I can let myself get frustrated at the Mental Arthritis for being there, as well as myself for not doing anything about it. It can become a horrible downward spiral. I can give in to despair and – much like someone with a bum knee who decided she can no longer be a runner – hate that I missed my opportunity to become a professional writer. I can sit and wonder what turn I missed somewhere. I can hate all the up-and-coming twenty-somethings who manage to write best sellers. I can tell myself that I've been kidding myself this whole time in to thinking I could ever write a published novel.


I can ignore the pain of my Mental Arthritis. I can fight through it, and do my “exercising” by going back to my No Zero Days. It will be a struggle at first – as all exercise is, especially when battling an arthritic joint – and I may not see results right away. If I stick with it though, I'll become happier. I will feel like I've accomplished something. That I've moved forward. Also, just like how exercising releases endorphins that help someone destress and become happier, so does writing. You can get lost in your words just as easily as you can in your work out. Minutes can quickly become hours. You may be a bit drained when all is said and done, but you're also strangely energized at the same time. Even with that arthritis, you can see yourself accomplishing your goals; and it will be an even sweeter victory because you had to struggle to reach it.

It's super hard. Pushing through that initial lock-up and strain is just really hard. Sometimes it feels like it's not possible. This entire summer has more-or-less been just me sitting on the couch yelling for my knees to work properly. I signed up for “exercise classes” that I never went to: Ali's On Track program as well as the Writers’ Huddle Summer Challenge. Things that worked wonders for me last year did nothing for me this summer.

I didn't have the push. I didn't have the drive. I didn't have the discipline. I just didn't care to fight any longer.

I want to fix that.

For months now I've sworn up and down that my latest vampire character would be my last one; I'm just not cut out to do at least the White Wolf Mind's Eye Theatre version of LARPing. It frustrates me. Once this character was either killed off or retired or whatever, that would be it. However, a new character sprung herself at me a couple of weeks ago. So she's been joining me at work the past few days.

It's not much, but I guess it would be like some with arthritic hands squeezing a stress ball to try to loosen up the joints.

I have no clue when Lottie will make her appearance – it could be just a few games, or it could be over a year from now – but it's fun to get those juices flowing again as I get to know her.

Also, Spink finished her profile for X-Future and is planing on starting up some soft role play later today. Having fresh blood on the boards may not be enough to revive the game as a whole, but it may be enough to get my writing flowing again.

I also have a huge backlog of stories. So I've got tons of exercise activities that I can chose from.

Music can be my arthritis medication; it won't do too much on its own, but it's a start that helps ease the pain enough for me to do the rest of the work.

Here's to hoping that having this epiphany about Mental Arthritis will help me actually accomplish some writing this week.

Do you have Mental Arthritis too? Let me know how you're fighting it in the comments below. Learning from each other is a fantastic way to improve ourselves.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zoning Out for Time Skips

Man, is it ever easy to remember to work on my blog post when I'm NOT WORKING Wednesday mornings. Sheesh. Don't get me wrong, I love finally having a moderately routine schedule that has me done usually by 1pm, and sometimes by 3pm. It's nice to have work first thing in the morning and then have the rest of the day; instead of having my day interrupted by my shift.

However, over the months of working on my blog on Wednesday mornings, I've discovered that I really do write best first thing in the morning, and I can only do so now on my days off. So.... double-edged sword I guess.

Because I've been working during my optimal writing time, I have still been completely halted. I attempted to move forward with at least the set-up of the next X-Future: The Second Generation Begins chapter. In other words, I tried to go through the now two-year-old posts to try to organize what happened next in our over-all story line. It didn't go well. Internet bandwidth in the area is horrible over the summer when all the students are home and chewing it up. So my internet crashed on me multiple times. Frustrated, I gave up and haven't attempted again since. Maybe I should just wait until school starts up again.

I thought that I had to do one of my pathetic "I haven't done anything, guys" slacker posts. Which would be doubly embarrassing considering I'd FINALLY be posting on time since who remembers when.

Then magic happened yesterday.

I completely zoned off at work. Not the most ideal situation, but making subs has become so monotonous a task that I really don't need to focus on it any more. After four years I think I might be able to literally make them in my sleep - if I were one to sleep walk, that is.

See, Hubby had to institute another time jump on X-Future. It's his way of catching everyone back up to the same time period and having a nice starting point for new characters. He did it when the forum started to fade originally, and we had three new recruits for playing. Sadly, only one out of those three still plays, and that's rarely.

Well, our numbers are pathetically small yet again. Ronoxym hasn't been on - let alone done anything - on the forums pretty much all summer, Phfylburt - as I mentioned last week - is finally focusing more on his own original stories than the forum, and so who knows how frequently he'll be on to play. This only really leaves MadDog24, who was only really ever on sporatically before anyway. I mean, the man does have two daughters under 26months old.

This means Hubby and I are probably going to be the only routine players. Kind of pathetic. I mean, I know we each run two or three main characters, but still.

Well, the time skip was a way to usher in a new player: Spink. She is a bit of an online text-based RPG veteran, and so we're hoping that she'll bring some life back to the boards. Problem would be trying to figure out how to remain entertaining with just the three of us though. The time skip will also open the door for MadDog's newest character(s) to come in, so maybe that will be incentive for him to be on more frequently too.

How does all of this relate to my zoning out yesterday, though?

Well, with the time skip Hubby weeded out a lot of characters to whittle down our "cast" to those with active players. A lot of characters just left the school for whatever reason. Others became background NPCs that Hubby will take over if/when our characters need to interact with them. Two got killed off.

So this is where the inspiration came from. Lia's been in a bit of a depressive funk since.... well.... she's been in a bit of a downward spiral since our last time skip. She's close to rock bottom and I needed the poor girl to have some closure. I couldn't get players to jump online in order to role play them out, and so that's what my mind did yesterday. I had Lia have conversations with certain characters before the characters left the board. I'll have to double check on a crucial tidbit with one of the characters' players to make sure I role played the character properly, but otherwise I think I made great progress. Once I know yay or nay on if that character truly felt how I THINK she felt, then I'm going to write out the conversation. It may not be entertaining enough to join with the X-Future: Snippets, but at least I'll have a reference point in order to role play Lia better once we start the game back up again.

Hubby also has me in charge of writing out what happened to a bunch of the characters over the time skips; in the meantime he has short briefings so people know roughly what happened. One couple journeyed to Japan. Another spent the summer in New York City. The final couple turned out to be among "the lost". There was a run-in with Trish and the duo has yet to return to the Institute.

Sooooooo I wrote a little bit of that too. Well, "write" is an overstatement. Nothing is down on paper yet. But I had shots of the scene and some of the closing dialogue more-or-less figured out in my head.

This gives me at least four things I need to write - on top of the stack I already had going - and three of them should make the cut to become Snippets. However, the Japan trip had a lot going based on Hubby's itinerary - it WAS a full summer out of country - and so that may become a companion story instead of a snippet.

Nothing to show for my efforts, but at least something with writing happened this week. That's a big step considering my dry-spell over the past month.

Ali Luke's final mini-challenge for the Writers’ Huddle summer challenge is to spend just five minutes to work on something we've been putting off. Even if it's not writing related. Especially if it's not writing related, but it's distracting us from our writing.

I think I need to take this challenge to heart. I need to stop putting things off. Once I have my life a bit more organized and a lot less procrastination-filled, perhaps I can finally get in to the right mindset to do this whole writing thing correctly.

I'm almost a month in to my third decade. Time to try YET AGAIN to start anew. Didn't work with New Years resolutions. Failed again with the Lunar/Chinese New Year. Third time was not the charm when my birthday rolled around. Yet it's the start of a new year for me. A new decade for me. There's still some time left in the year, perhaps I can make 2014 work for me after all.

Because, honestly, I've been noticing a pattern since 2011 that I get in to an awesome writing groove during odd-numbered years and dry spells during even-numbered years. I'd hate to think that would mean 2014 is pretty much a "shot" year simply because it's divisible by two. Also, what kind of career could I possibly have if I can only produce every other year!?

I need to break this pattern, and I think the first step is to really push with my writing community: Struggling Writers' Society.

I may have something for everyone to read next week, but right now I'm focusing on getting the community's website up and running.
*Scampers off to work on the forum*

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mind's Going Already

Alright, it seems odd doing so considering there have been much more important people who have passed, but for some reason the fact that Robin Williams committed suicide this week really struck a cord with me. So, in honor of a great man, I wish to post this picture that has been floating around Facebook:
I am sorry that I do not know of any numbers outside of the United States,
but please PLEASE look for help if you or someone you know needs it.
I understand that if you are suffering from Depression that you must feel so terribly alone. Please know you are not. I am sure that there are people in your life who wish to help you, but most probably just don't know how, or they don't have the resources to. You may feel that no one loves or cares for you. Please know that this is also not true. I may not even know you, but know that I care and have concerns for you. I want you to feel and get better.

If a stranger can feel that passion for you, I'm sure you can find others. So please, PLEASE, I am begging you to look and reach out for help if you need it. You don't need to suffer alone. It may take a while to find the right grip out of the crushing darkness, but it can be found. Please, do not give up. Go to as many people as you can/need to. Call the above lifeline.

It is a tragedy when the only relief people can find is to end their lives. So even if you do not have Depression, or know someone who does, please help those strangers who do have it. Spread the word of where they can find help so the information can make its way to the people who need it. Advocate for companies, governments, and society as a whole to treat mental health as seriously as physical health. Plead for research to continue to find a way to treat and cure these painful struggles people have to deal with every day.

My father died of cancer, and so I am grateful for all the research and media attention cancer has received, but we need to think of those with mental health issues as well: Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Bi-Polar, OCD, Schizophrenia, the list goes on. Most people have to fight against these illnesses a lot longer than those with physical health issues. Most people also have to do so while struggling silently and unknown to the world around them.

Help these people find solace. Help these people find peace. Help these people find hope. Help these people find cures or alternate ways to use their different mind to live a full life.


Alright. I'm climbing off my soapbox now.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...


Geez, I'm such fail as a thirty-year-old.

I didn't even notice that I missed last week's update. Then this one ended up being super late too!

Life has still been crazy since the big 3-0, so I guess I really need to figure out this whole "time management" thing before I become a parent. Otherwise there'd be no hope for me or my writing!

Although, even if I did have time the past few weeks, I don't know if it would help. I've been so fried lately that I'm struggling at doing anything that requires major brain power; or even the little bit of brain power required to remember what day of the week it is.

Normally I would unwind during work breaks by writing SOMETHING, but lately I've just been staring at the large computer monitor the managers use for teleconferences. It has a news ticker and clock that I watch. I would then normally decompress at home by either writing some more, posting on X-Future, playing video games, or playing puzzle games like Sudoku. Not since leaving my twenties.

I can't even play my beloved Legend of Zelda half the time now, unless what I'm doing is VERY straight forward. Any "puzzles" I have to figure out in A Link Between Worlds is usually met with me messing around for about five minutes before giving up and looking for our official game guide.

The computer games I now play are mindless ones where I literally just click to do things. Heck, one of the games I play is called a ZRPG: Zero Role Play Game. I just sit back and read the exploits of my character doing things without me. For those curious, I'm "Almighty Lazy" on Godville:
Friend me. ^_^
I have found little to no passion/drive/mental capacity to write ANYTHING since my birthday. Super sad really, considering that I joined both the "On Track" course and the Summer Writing Challenge that Ali Luke set up. Haven't touched either.

I think - outside the "I'm burned out" bit - a large reason is that a lot of my writing motivation comes from the X-Future boards, and those have been halted for MONTHS now. Hubby just did another time skip to try to jumpstart role playing again, but he also just killed off two more characters - and sent a third "back home" - because no one has been on to play them since about April. Worst part about all of that - aside from the increasingly shrinking "cast" of characters - is that I personally thought at least one of those characters had a lot of story potential. Heck, I could think of a nice little character-growth/teen drama subplot arch for all three characters. I guess that just means I have yet ANOTHER thing to sort of reboot in the X-Future webcomic redux.

Man, that's something else I haven't been thinking about for a while. I should get back to the webcomic world building. Maybe it will respark my zest for writing. I'm just stuck on another roadblock of how to recreate the X-Men's "Danger Room". It's a training room that uses both physical and holographic elements to create realistic scenarios for the mutants at the Xavier mansion. I have a nice example in my chapter about Chayse trying to combat the Danger Room: "Rescues and Robots."

There is an earlier chapter - "Capture the Flag" - that also includes the Danger Room. At least three more events - one of them a main catalyst event - also take place within the Danger Room. It is just as crucial as the school itself. My thing is - just like the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters - how do I have the DR without it being blatantly obvious that was the source concept?


It's so upsetting too because the beginning of the year held such promise. I was updating my blog regularly, I had at least two collab stories I would race home to work on, I was world building like a mad woman, and the forum had some momentum behind it.

Then everything sort of just died on me.

I need to find an internal way of getting that passion back. To not need outside sources to drive me to write.

This is actually one of the reasons why the board is so dead right now. While I've been pretty much ONLY been thinking about the boards and the characters that reside there, Phfylburt has all but forgotten it. He mastered the art of not needing an outside source to spark his writing; at least, as far as I could tell. He's in a really good writing groove apparently, and has been focusing on his original works.

I say good for him.

But bad for me. Now it seems it's just Hubby and me on X-Future...

So here's hoping we get a revival on the board with this time skip, or that I can finally find that internal spark. In the meantime, maybe I'll actually work on what I signed up to do for that Writers’ Huddle writing challenge: Work on my next X-Future chapter.