Depression and Writing

I’ve been in a depressive episode since the beginning of February. Normally when this happens, I quit writing. This time I haven’t. I haven’t been as productive as I was pre-depression, but I am still writing.

My psychiatrist has exhausted most of the different medication options. Some work for a while then stop. Others don’t work at all. I’ve had electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) quite a bit in the past. Like some medications, it didn’t last long. And I won’t do it again because it (along with having bipolar, some medications, and age) messed up my memory.

So he suggested ketamine infusion. He had mentioned it once before, but I didn’t look into it because insurance doesn’t cover it. Anyway, it is as it sounds: the doctor administers ketamine via IV. This may be used as a street drug, but when used properly it can improve depression symptoms right away. Insurance still doesn’t cover it, but I’m desperate.

I’m Still Here

So I haven’t posted anything in over two months. Well, I had major surgery in mid-December and needed a six- to eight-week recovery period, though I felt better long before then. Still. Precautions. And fortunately, I don’t have cancer.

I didn’t do much writing after NaNoWriMo, and then the surgery came up. I was also accepted into StoryStudioChicago’s Novel-in-a -Year program (NIAY), which started in January. It’s a one-year course that meets monthly and offers support to a small number of novel writers. And, of course, workshop is a part of that.

I decided that I would continue writing once the class started so I could get some direction, set goals, etc, And I have. I’ve written every day so far this month. I’ve had to rearrange my schedule to make the time to write, so I’m not reading as much as I would like. Also not crocheting as much. Both are basically my hobbies. That’s it, unless eating counts as a hobby.

As I continue to write my novel, I’ll try to give more updates on how it’s going.

Thanks for sticking around.

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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) came to an end on November 30. I started out strong, writing 2,021 words on the first day. To write 50,000 words in 30 days means writing about 1,667 words a day.

I hit my stride early, occasionally writing over 1,667 words. But I peaked early, and after that, I faltered and fizzled out. The total number of words I wrote for my novel is 23,927. I wrote a whole bunch of other words in my outline, but I didn’t think they counted. At one point, I changed my word count goal to 25,000, but I never made it.

I may not be an official “winner,” but I got a lot out of this. I learned that I have the ability to crack down and write and write and write. It didn’t matter if I wrote the scenes out of order, as long as they were written.

What tripped me up is my penchant for editing even before I write more of the story. I want to read and re-read the first chapter, and edit it along the way. When I was stuck, I wanted to re-read the new scenes I had written because I knew they needed revising. And revising was better than staring at a blank screen. But I didn’t think that would count towards my word count.

I did end up writing a lot more of my novel than before NaNoWriMo. I maybe doubled the overall word count. So the whole endeavor was satisfying.

NaNoWriMo 2021 Check-In

NaNoWriMo is now halfway over. In order to have 50,000 words on November 30; my current total should be 25,000 words, at 1,667 words a day. My current word count should be 25,000. My actual count is 17,XXX, which means I need to write 2,167 words each day for the next 15 days.

I started out keeping up with the word count. I had a short list of scenes that I wanted to write, and came up with a few more. It’s my habit, and probably not a good one, but I constantly edit as I go, which holds up the work.

Will I make it? Doubtful. I told myself that I’m doing this to get in the habit of writing every day, which I’m doing. On your profile page, there are a variety of badges you can earn whenever you reach a milestone, and I’ve hit every one so far. But I was really hoping to get the winner’s badge!

NaNoWriMo 2021

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It started in 1999, and is basically a challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November—a first draft of a novel.

I was going to do it in 2008, but I chickened out. The whole idea was really daunting. This year, since I’ve started work on a novel anyway, I’m going to do it. However, I’m not holding myself up to 50,000 words (1,667 a day). I’ll be happy if I write 500 words.

For me, this is to keep me writing and to build up momentum. My novel actually began as a memoir, but I couldn’t remember all of the details of events. So I decided to fictionalize it. I already had the bulk of it written, but little did I know that fictionalizing it would be more work than merely changing all of the pronouns from first-person to third! Fictionalizing gave me a lot of freedom, and I changed a ton of what I’d written so far.

However, after the Beginning Novel Writing class I took through the Iowa Summer Writers Festival last summer ended, I hit a standstill and have been stuck until now. I have a partial outline that’s barely organized. It’s messy, and outlines aren’t my strong suit. This is the first time I’m writing one. I signed up for the Writer’s Digest University’s class, Outlining Your Novel. It has helped me get back on track, and I’m hoping this continues through November.

On the NaNoWriMo forums I noticed that some people believe writing all 50,000 words is a win, and not doing so is a loss. I don’t see it this way. For me it’s a win no matter how much I write.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it previously?