‘Tis the Season to Relax-y

I wiped out hard this holiday season.

This time, at least, I don’t regret it. Yes, it means that the first draft I was hoping could be finished this December will have to be finished next year (delayed again!). And yes, it means I became quite slovenly.

But I have to remember that my deadline here was self-imposed, and that is a luxury. From a certain point of view, I was dragged away from that December 31st deadline. Family members were just about begging me to set writing and other work aside, not to infect me with demon Sloth, but to ensure that I gave myself a chance to relax. Not just for a weekend, but for, like, three weekends, and also all the days in between.

While I didn’t give up the work I did for other people, I did give up the work I did for myself. And yet, thankfully, when I returned to writing Catgirl System later on in the month, it all came easily.

Now I’m ratcheting up the time I spend writing Catgirl System daily. The first day, my morning target was 30 minutes; the next, 45—and I ended up writing for a full hour. And I’ll go on and on for as long as I can stand.

Does Anyone Really Write Every Day?

It’s an enviable goal.

An author once told me, “I don’t trust anyone who says they write every day.” I’m sure you’ve heard many many people suggest that you should write every day—make it a habit and you’ll be stronger for it. It’s the same principle that applies to fortifying any habit: exercise, studying, getting to sleep and waking up at a regular time.

But maybe it’s also healthy to make a habit of skipping days.

…Okay, let me rephrase that.

What I really mean is that we should come to terms with the idea that we might skip days, and that we might fail—in fact, maybe we shouldn’t call it a “failure.” Because if you’re caught in an emergency, or you undergo a tragedy, or even if you just overestimated how taxing a train ride was going to be…will you really want to call your use of time a “failure” for that? And do you want to head toward the trap of calling yourself a “failure” in turn?

You “failed” in terms of productivity. That’s clearly not the same as failing at life.

My spreadsheet full of writing times and wordcounts sees the past three weeks as a total wash. But now that I’ve jumped back into writing feeling no worse for wear, and now that I look ahead at my postponed deadline with a distinct lack of anxiety, I do not feel those three weeks been a failure. And I do not feel like a failure.

I don’t see the time in between as a squandered vacuum, because in that interim, I was still living and gathering experiences. I knew full well that I hadn’t abandoned Catgirl System and I had the confidence to know the story wasn’t about to slip away.

Now, what I do admit is that I overprioritized to other projects. Let me talk more about that.

My Other Rambunctious Projects

Well, compared to what I was doing around this time a year ago, my affairs are actually looking pretty tame. I’m not browsing game jams hoping to crash one, I’m not reeling from an impulsive jump onto the NaNoWriMo train, and I’m not soliciting friends for spontaneous zine ideas. But a friend did encourage me, in full righteousness of heart, to watch some Christmas movies, which gave me the idea (which I latched onto hard) to blog about it.

The results were very fun and they had nothing to do with Catgirl System whatsoever.

Did I have to experiment all of a sudden?

Worse, because I’d overcommitted in my personal life too, I didn’t have as much time to devote to writing these posts (let alone my novel) as I’d thought. So blog posts that I’d been wanting to write and schedule early in December were instead written the night before, the night of. And this left precious little time for Catgirl System. In fact, the first day of the month I wrote any Catgirl was December 7th. And then…never again until this final week.

Insert a famous saying about best-laid plans.

Suffice it to say that I’m not going to do any blog posts besides writing-related tips and updates for as long as I can help it (or stand it). I’ve gotta recover from this…

So What’s My Progress?

It has barely changed since last time. In fact, I won’t even bother updating my progress bar this time, so paltry is the progress.

But what I did make interesting and surprising moves with is Catgirl System art.

This is legitimately important because I want to draw the cover myself and I want it not to suck. Art also helps me to stretch creative muscles in a way that feels inherently different from writing, and it’s really helped me relax in this season of relaxing.

I’ve experimented with digital watercolor before, but this time…this time I’ve got more techniques. And while they’re all kind of sloppy and touch-and-go, the results end up looking cool, which is the most important part.

What’s next? Uh, since New Year’s is about to come and go, I foresee…more writing. But also more reading, more keenly observing, more failed baked goods, more meetings with friends, and more living.

Here’s hoping for a semi-pleasant 2024!

Thank you for reading, and Patrons, thank you for Patreonning.

I talk a lot about my creative inspirations on this blog, from video game and gamebook maps to fantasy fiction, with all its ups and downs (hint: this one links to Harry Potter). But also just about my life! Why don’t you kick back, get some hot chocolate, and stay a while?

2 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season to Relax-y”

  1. I wonder if the “You need to write every day” mantra comes mainly from full-time writers, who by definition exist on a different wavelength with different capabilities than part-time writers and especially spare-time writers.

    I’m discomforted by the concept of having “‘failed’ in terms of productivity,” because I too struggle with the mentality that I need to always be productive, and that time spent doing [literally anything else] is time that I’ll inevitably feel guilty about later in the day/week/month when I start thinking “I should have used that time for [writing/etc.]” Heck, I wrote a blog praising my recent productivity just this morning, without an ounce of self-awareness! But then I see similar attitudes reflected in this article, and I remember, “Oh, that mentality isn’t healthy. We need to cut ourselves some slack.”

    Relaxing is important. I hope you continue to give yourself the occasional writing skip-day (or more if you need it!) and relax in whatever relaxy ways you find relaxable. On that note, I like the recent art!

    1. Thank you!! 🥴

      I think that some of the people saying “you need to write every day” are full-timers, but the really tenacious and vocal ones are the ones who began part-time and spare-time. I know a very successful person who says, “I started writing when I had another job, writing was not my first career path, I write X amount of words every day no matter what, and that’s what I recommend for others.” And people working in subgenres with high demand (including anything “pulpy”) will lean toward this write-every-day advice too. It works for many people—I just don’t like seeing it applied as a blanket statement to everyone’s process.

      Hmm, maybe I can do some meditation on the guilt of being nonproductive in a society relentlessly pushing us toward just that. I do sometimes struggle with it, but more often it’s just on the micro-level of, “Ah, I didn’t write as many words/quite as long this time as I expect/started feeling restless toward the end of that session…that’s no good.”

      I actually skipped writing yesterday! Then I wrote again, though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from Joi Massat

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading