Seanan, how do you deal with writing on days when you're low on spoons? My depression and anxiety has been kicking my ass since yesterday and I have a short story I need to work on. I just can't seem to smack through this depression/anxiety fog well enough to get back to work and it's frustrating the hell out of me.
So my situation is somewhat different now than it was, say, ten years ago, because now writing is my sole means of supporting myself and my mother. I have two housemates, in part because knowing that people with Reliable Day Jobs are chipping in for approximately ½ the mortgage and bills helps me a lot with keeping the creeping panic from taking me out, but that’s only ½. Everything could go to shit in a hurry if I stopped writing.
TL;DR on the first paragraph alone: I write when I’m low on spoons because if I don’t write, I can’t afford to buy food. The only days I will reliably allow myself to skip are days when I’m on an airplane (zoom!) and days when I’ve just had dental work and am thus too stoned to spell.
But before that…
If you need to be writing–if it’s your path to less depression, or you have a deadline, or you need to feel like you’ve accomplished something for the sake of your sanity–figure out where the lines of “need” are. Now break it into as many pieces as you feel is necessary. Do you need to write 1,000 words? That’s ten units of 100. Maybe you can’t sit down and write 1,000 words, no problem, but I bet you can do 100.
Now do it again. Now do it again. Count it off however you like–pennies in a pile, or a d10 that you turn, or Magic health tokens–and keep doing it, until you have that 1,000. It’ll come faster than you think, and having little goals makes the big one seem less distant and terrifying.
Remember that first drafts are allowed and expected to suck. You’re not writing for publication, you’re writing for productivity. You can revise your first draft into awesomeness, but that comes later. Keep moving forward. Go back only when you absolutely must.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish as much as you wanted to! If you don’t hit 1,000, but you hit 400, you still met four goals! Be proud of yourself for making it that far.
Believe in yourself.
I believe in you.