This time last year, I didn’t have an idea for National Novel Writing Month in November, but I was excited to take part.
I wrote about not having an idea, but with a little work I found one and wrote 50,000 words over the course of November. Heading into December, I hadn’t finished the first draft of that novel, but I planned to.
I still haven’t, but I have worked on it some.
Now, I’m looking into NaNoWriMo again, but this time with no ideas to write and no motivation to take part in the worldwide event.
During last year’s column on the topic, I said, “When you write for work every day, the idea of going home and writing more just seems daunting.”
While that’s still part of the problem, there’s more going on this year.
The first story I wrote on COVID-19 was at the end of January when local health representatives met with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on the growing concern about the virus.
I’ve been writing about this virus for almost nine months, and I’m tired.
That’s the bottom line of 2020; I’m tired, and everything is terrible.
In fiction, if there’s no conflict, it isn’t a very interesting story.
Between COVID-19, the election and just everything else that’s happened this year, there’s been enough conflict. I don’t need a fictional conflict to worry about.
I’m struggling with mental health this year.
I’ve experienced depression since I was about 9 years old.
Toward the end of high school and the beginning of college, I had it under control. There would be the occasional bad day, but most of the time, I was so focused on getting school and work done that I could just push through it.
2020 has been a different story.
Increasingly, I’m spending all weekend in bed because I can’t find the energy to do anything else. On work days, I push through, but it’s still more apparent than it used to be.
Before, depression meant there were voices in my head talking about stories to tell. This time around, it’s silent.
When you’re used to voices in your head, the silence is uncomfortable. I don’t like silence; it makes me anxious.
Maybe, that’s the leftovers of a fear I had growing up where I thought something would come hurt me if they believed I was alone at night.
I’ve experienced more anxiety than normal this year, too.
Growing up, I had some level of social anxiety, but through public school and working as a journalist, I learned to cope with it.
I never had general anxiety, at least not to a noticeable point, but it’s developed this year.
Writing was my creative outlet before, but with no voices in my head, there’s no passion for writing fiction.
Instead, I picked up oil pastels for a while before tiring of that. I’ve done the same with painting and DIY projects. I was doing candle making a couple weeks ago, but with Halloween around the corner, I’ve spent free time this week working on a costume.
I’ve sewn by hand and with a machine, dyed fabric multiple times trying to get the right color (since apparently purple plaid doesn’t exist in stores) and roughly planned what I’m trying to do.
Since COVID is still a thing, I’m also planning a mask to match my costume, which means using a pattern. I haven’t sewn since eighth grade when, let’s be honest, mom did most of the work.
I want to write, but if I’m writing outside of work, I don’t want to force it. It should be natural and passionate.
I think right now, my creative outlet needs to be more physical and something I can do with my hands.
Shine is a staff writer at the Daily American Republic. He can be reached at email@example.com .