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The Write Life: December

I started December by finishing off a final revision of my Clockman novel. (Yes, another final revision.) This pass included addressing some concerns I had about Chapter 12 and then reviewing the entire manuscript for filler words and adverbs to make sure the sentences were as tight as they could be. I used some of the website apps I’ve talked about previously in Writer Resources (available on Patreon) to assist with these passes, which made looking for filler words and adverbs a breeze.

The manuscript is currently off with a friend from the MFA and my MFA thesis director, and I’m doing a final (“final”) hard-copy review wherein I’m discovering horrifying typos and further tweaking sentences (because I. Am. Unstoppable!) Our formerly feral cat Pink is assisting in this work, but he keeps falling asleep on the job (sometimes literally on top of the book).

I’ve also been preparing a presentation on Non-Traditional Revenue Streams for Writers (like Patreon), which I’ll be presenting at the OCLS Writers Conference on January 26. If you’re local to Central Florida, make sure you register soon! (Seats are going fast.)

 

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Weird Ways to Manage Anxiety

Anxiety has been my companion through most of my adult life. Most people wouldn’t know this about me because I am so totally chill about everything, yo. (I made a joke about my NaNoWriMo co-ML and I that his job was talking and my job was planning and panicking—it’s an even division of labor.) Seriously, I do a fair job of managing my stress and anxiety, and mostly it’s through normal means, like taking a walk, taking a nap, or watching a funny movie. But I also manage it through some unusual means, and so I’m here to break down: The Top Three Weird Ways I Manage My Anxiety.


1. Memorization/Recitation

I am an avid fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve seen all the episodes, read a ridiculous number of books and comic books, tracked down interviews and read behind the scenes books. I know quotes, actor names, random factoids, and the name of every episode.

Let me clarify, I know the name of every episode in order. Forward and backward. With episode numbers.

There are 144 episodes of Buffy and when I’m feeling stressed out, I head over to Sporcle to play my favorite Buffy episode quiz. The quiz is simple—you write the episode title and it fills in on the list. And even though I know all the episodes, sometimes I’m a little rusty, or I remember them out of order, so I play the game over and over until I have the order correct forward, and then backward, and then under 10 minutes, etc. (I stop when I feel less anxious, but this can go on for bits at a time for days, depending on what’s causing the anxiety.)

When I’ve got Buffy down, I move on to Angel (110 episodes), and then Stargate SG-1­ (a whopping 214 episodes).

In some ways it’s a time waster, but when the anxiety is high, the repetition can help calm me down and the memorization lets me focus on something that isn’t whatever’s causing the anxiety.


2. Cleaning/Reorganizing/Book Touching

I usually have a smallish (read as: large) pile of paperwork sitting on the corner of my desk and a handful of other things sitting out of place around my space. Picking up those areas is a great way to deal with my anxiety because while I might not be able to get a grasp on other things, I know where these things go! (Some of it is the recycling, I admit.) Even if I don’t make it through the stack, diminishing it at all gives me a sense of purpose and success when anxiety is otherwise blocking my productivity.

Reorganizing my bookshelf is another way I deal with anxiety, but since my bookshelf is already organized, this is often a way of tricking myself into feeling productive. I might shift curios around or find a new bookend, but usually there’s very little to do. What I mostly end up doing is touching the spines of books, reading titles, taking in the colors, and occasionally picking the next book I want to read or identifying a book to give away (that last one is actually productive). Even if I’m not distracting myself by the task of reorganizing, losing myself in my book collection for a few minutes usually helps reduce my anxiety because I’m focused on something else.


3. Faceplanting in a Cat

When I’m stressed, I find my cat and I shove my face in his fur. Or sometimes, he finds me and forces me to cuddle (often by lying on me and shoving his fur in my face—at least we’re in agreement about what’s comforting). This also usually leads to him purring, and there’s little that soothes anxiety as efficiently as a cat purr.

 

Three weird methods, but they all work for me. The reason they work is that all of these activities take me away from whatever is causing the anxiety and allow me to focus on something else—and something I enjoy. Because even when I’m reciting the names of Buffy episodes, I’m thinking about a show that is funny and means a lot to me. So, yeah, even though it’s a little weird, I’m happy to do it if it means that afterward I can function. Do you have any weird coping mechanisms or things that you do before settling into work?

Merry Catmas!

Happy holidays to everyone! While I have two cats gracing the inside of my house these days, one of them is more willing to put up with having his picture taken and the other doesn’t quite know what to do with a camera. (The outtakes with Pink are often abstract.)

I’m enjoying a rather quiet Christmas at home with my family and my cats. It’s peaceful after the last few hectic months. I hope all of your celebrations are filled with love and relaxation (and maybe a little bit of fur).

Catocalypse!

Last week I attended DragonCon and while I intended to write a post for this week extolling the reasons I love that convention, I spent the majority of this week preparing for a hurricane. It was a little reminder that even the best laid plans can be run off course (or wobble excessively as in the case of Irma).

In addition to hurricane prep and clean up (and recovery from DragonCon), I’ve also been taking care of some additional felines during what a friend dubbed Catocalypse. Boogie (our inside cat) was joined for three days by Pink, the black and white formerly feral cat who hangs out inside during inclement weather, and Maz, Pink’s tuxedo sister who was fully domesticated and adopted by my friends.

Instead of my words this week, I give you cat pictures. I’m very much in a mental position for cat pictures.

Catocalypse was less daunting than we thought it would be. Boogie and Pink got along better than they normally do, and we only had to quarantine Maz, who apparently has forgotten she knows both of these cats. All three cats were fairly calm during the storm, and Boogie even taught Pink how to use the litter box.

Here’s hoping for a more restful week!