Wishes and plans. Oh how dangerous when we mix them up. Oh how tragic when rigid plans snap and all above comes crashing down. Oh how cruel we are to ourselves when we plan, but don’t take into account our true natures and fail to compensate.
That’s why I, Christina Anne Hawthorne, am again making my mental health a part of my writing plan this year. After all, nurturing myself helps me to better help my characters. In turn, maybe, just maybe, I can help others.
As stated last week, in 2021 I succeeded beyond expectations. I want to build on that, to have success breed success. That means pursuing several parallel courses.
It was in 2015 when I decided to overhaul my worldbuilding and adopt patience with my writing. It was in 2017 when a doctor rescued me from the oxygen deprivation that’d plagued me since 2009.
It was like waking from a nightmare to discover it’d been real.
In August 2019 I created a two-page spread in my journal: Stories: What’s Important to Me. It was a turning point that accompanied greater accountability and a host of productivity steps in 2020. Also that year, in an effort to better manage my mental health, I embraced yoga and meditation.
I drew upon all those steps, every one, in 2021 and succeeded beyond all my dreams.
It was all a bit like the steps I take to place myself in the best possible position before NaNoWriMo, but on a bigger scale. It worked. Oh how it worked.
The Mental Health Key
I’m an introvert, an INFJ to be exact, and I embrace that. I wouldn’t be the writer I am if I wasn’t that person. That, though, doesn’t hold me back.
As a child, I was a slightly above average student in school—despite all that was going on at home. I’d arrived into my parents’ lives at the threshold of their divorce, the last of three children and the youngest by seven years. I was an inconvenient reality in both households.
That manifested as the expectation that I should exist in the background. In other words, mediocracy. Don’t fail, but don’t succeed because either outcome might intrude on their time. My mother’s style was to discourage: I shouldn’t, I couldn’t, and so on. My father, more blunt, forbid my involvement in, well, anything (or with anyone).
All that pummeled my self-esteem. As a teen, my best friend was depression. I’m serious. I named her Dee.
I won’t detail the events most directly connected to my PTSD, but it was writing that saved me through high school. I lived in fear each day that it’d be discovered, all the more so because my deepest secret, the one no one knew, would’ve literally meant my end.
Already there’d been events I’d barely survived.
In the aftermath was the realization that surviving was just the first step, that the scars ran deep. Thus was my self-doubt revealed.
I'm afraid of something I can't see; I'm afraid it's inside of me. Dreams of acceptance and affection, dreams forever broken… ~The Infinite Sadness from The Renaissance Cycle ©2014 Christina Anne Hawthorne
That was long ago. Over time, I’ve slowly taught myself that I can, that the road I WANT to take is the right one. Writing? Sales be damned, I have a vision and I mean to realize it.
The plan this year is multiple roads running in parallel, yet all heading towards the same destination. The 1st is my physical health. That means walking and biking. Age is working against me … it’d best bring its A-game.
The 2nd is my mental health and conquering my self-doubt. Those old voices have a way of returning. I’ll continue with meditation, walking, and yoga. They pay me back beyond imagining. 2021 was encouraging in that regard. I missed no days writing due to depression.
My 3rd road is worldbuilding and updating resources as needed. I’m toying with investing in Wonderdraft. I can no longer use the ancient app I’ve been using for mapmaking. Actual mapmaking software would shorten the time required by more than 75%.
The vital 4th road is revising. I excelled last year and can do better. I want to move through all the books, but will focus on the series. I’m presently working on Trust in the Forgotten (Bk1). It’s time to improve my editing skills and have stockpiled resources to read.
Last is the 5th road, which is to update my self-publishing knowledge. I fumbled a lot when I published The Renaissance Cycle in 2014 and much has changed since then. When it comes technology outside of editing, drafting, mapmaking, and worldbuilding I’m kind of a mess.
There’ll be more on this blog on all of these topics over the course of the year, none more so than self-doubt. What I learn I’ll pass along. My biggest gain in recent years has been recognizing when things are going wrong, and stacking success.
Some of these roads, like exercise and editing hours, are more measurable than others. The ultimate goal, of course, is publication. I’m aiming for late this year or early next year. I’m an enterprise of one, but I’m determined.