The Mental Drain of Big Projects

When I started this #DigitalDetox thing, I knew that I would learn a few things about myself that I never knew. Or maybe I did know them, but just didn't recognize them for what they were. But I this week's discovery explained so many things about the past that I had never put together before.

After completing a big project, I'm mentally and physically zonked—zapped of energy—and the fiction writing becomes a struggle. In fact, anything creative, including coloring-in pictures, becomes a struggle.

So, it probably won't be a surprise to anyone to discover that this week is yet another #DigitalDetox redo.

October Chaos

This time of year (October heading into November) is always a little hectic for me. November 1st marks the start of NaNoWriMo, an international event for writers where we spend the month dedicating ourselves to our writing (with the idea of writing a novel within the span of one month). But for me, NaNoWriMo really starts earlier, as I just happen to be the Municipal Liaison (ML) for both Christchurch, New Zealand and New Zealand Elsewhere regions.

October is all about making sure that various events and tools are in place for my regions, and coordinating efforts with MLs from around the world as we pull resources together for the digital events. It's a lot of work, and it's 100% volunteer. But I love doing it, because I am able to use some of my other skills that I don't normally use and give back to the writing community that way.

Of course, I elected to make it difficult for myself this year by building an entirely brand new website.

Christchurch, NZ has a vibrant writing community, with lots of opportunities for writers to network and learn from one another. However, some years ago, I found it frustrating how the various groups don't actually communicate with one another. They frequently organize events in complete isolation from one another, meaning that some events get stacked on top of one another and clash.

For the writer, this means that we are forced to choose between multiple events that all look to be good. I guess that's not a bad thing, but for someone who wants to organize a workshop of their own (as was the case years ago when I first discovered the issue), it's a pain in the ass to plan something, only to discover three other events on at the same time. All those years ago, I wished there had been a central events calendar somewhere, making it easy for me to see what was on and where.

So, I set out on a mission to create such a calendar.

I've been doing the best I could to work on the calendar/information hub idea for six years. Two years ago, I launched a website for that purpose.

I will admit that the name of the first website was chosen for petty reasons. It was logical, but I was being underhanded in my actions and malicious. Events had happened back in 2017 that I was still bitter about. I had skills to do some real damage to other people, and I was being a nasty person. But earlier this year, I finally recognized my toxic behavior and decided that it was time to finally completely sever ties with the old animosity. I had brought onboard to the admin team of the site another person who was impartial and didn't know the full history behind the name—and she pointed out the flaws in the name. As much as I had been clinging to the past, I conceded to how wrong I had been. New domains were purchased, and I had a deadline to build an entirely new site, complete with new branding.

While the function and purpose of the new site is the same, the look, feel, and energies associated with the new site are completely different.

Canterbury Writers LogoCanterbury Writers is the new information hub, designed to provide information about writer-based events going on within Canterbury and the wider New Zealand writing community. We list various online and in-person events, have a list of useful resources for writers, AND a growing catalog of books by local authors. It will take time to get word of the website out into the world, but we now have a name and branding that is connected to what it should have been originally.

I finished the final design and population of data last week, and this week, I've been feeling off ALL week. Nonfiction wasn't a problem. Editing was easy for me to do. But write new words on the latest fiction work? Forget it. It was pathetic effort.

Black Wolf Editorial Services LogoI wasn't really that stressed about the lack of fiction writing this week though. In my role as the Black Wolf Editor, I still had a major client manuscript edit to finish (a manuscript that was 160,000 words). It is a good precise, and I look forward to seeing what the author does with it, but a manuscript that long deserves attention—and it had been neglected in the wake of the Canterbury Writers website. So with the website out of the way, I was able to turn my attention to that project. I finished the edits, sent the files back to the client—and collapsed.

That's when I realized exactly why I had been struggling with writing fiction all week. It happens to me every time: whenever I finish a major project, no matter what that project is, I feel mentally exhausted and unable to find the energy to be creative. I'm able to continue with nonfiction projects. Editing (even if it is fiction) is not a problem, but writing new fictional words is a struggle. It happens every time. And I can't believe that I'd never noticed it before.

Now that I know that this is an issue, I'll be able to build strategies to manage it.

But what does all of this have to do with my #DigitalDetox challenges?

There is a creative component to each #DigitalDetox challenge.

Every #DigitalDetox challenge has a coloring-in page that goes with it. Sure, I could be basic and just splash some color onto the page, but that's not what I want to do. I want to be creative when I put those pages together, and I just haven't had the energy to do it.

In addition, the next challenge in the sequence is creative in its own way: make a photo album. When I come to build that photo album, I don't want to do a half-assed job. I want to take my time and be creative with it—be purposeful with the photo order and captions (if I include captions). I've been meaning to do some photo albums for years (ever since my son was born), but I was always so tired that I couldn't find the energy to do it the way I wanted to do it.

So... I've decided that I'm on #DigitalDetox redo after redo until I have completed the stacked up challenges, and that includes the photo album.

Here are the challenges that I'm working on. I not allowing myself to progress to other challenges until these ones are complete (and this includes the future ones that I had told my email list about too):

  • Challenge #9: Have a massage
  • Challenge #10: Go to karaoke
  • Challenge #11: Stay off social media all day
  • Challenge #12: Make a photo album
  • Challenge #13: Go for a hike with friends
  • Challenge #14: Go 24 hours without complaining (this will be a huge challenge for me... and the family will love it... LOL)
  • Challenge #15: Limit the internet to 30 minutes a day for one week

I suspect that at the rate I'm going, it will probably take me the rest of the year to achieve some of those.

Of those challenges, which one would be the hardest for you to achieve?

Copyright © 2021 Judy L Mohr. All rights reserved.

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