On January 20th, I wrapped up writing the first draft of my next novel, Like You Want It. This marks a pretty intense achievement for me, in that I wrote the entire first draft in 20 days – the fastest I’ve ever written such a large amount of words (80,000).
I felt really accomplished that evening, and allowed myself to take a short break of a day and a half before I jumped into the next stage: editing. Unfortunately, I faced what I’m now realizing is a legitimate hurdle.
The post-writing slump.
I’ve experienced this setback previously, although I’ve never connected it with my writing before. After I wrote the first draft of both The Keeper and Keep Away, I went weeks without doing anything with it because I felt so damn sapped of all of my energy. I was able to avoid this to some degree with Like You Mean It because we went on a trip to New Zealand and I purposefully gave myself 10 days to focus on enjoying a trip with my husband, and then jumped into edits once I got home.
This time around, in combination with some personal life stuff, it has manifested as some minor depression about my own life, and anxiety about what’s next. Will I be able to meet my deadline? Have I been neglecting other important components of my life? Did I go too fast and write something horrible?
My blood pressure has shot through the roof (anxiety) and I’ve been having trouble getting up in the morning (depression) and focusing on anything (anxiety). I feel scattered and mentally exhausted.
I’m sharing this because I know other people face these challenges too. It might be after you’ve completed a big project at work, or done one of the big life changes like moving or starting a new job. There are many reasons you may face a slump or crash after something big.
So I’ve been looking into ways to come back from this. And I’ve compiled a few suggestions for you below:
- Prioritize Your Health: When we’ve been facing stress and deadlines, it is easy to neglect something more important. Our health. Today, I just wanted to stay in bed all day, but I forced myself to get up and went on a walk. 4 miles. It was a big chunk of my afternoon, and I listened to a podcast about burnout as I went. I didn’t give in to my desire for Cheetos and chocolate, and instead had a salad wrap for lunch. I actively chose to care about my body when it felt at it’s weakest, and I know it’s the right choice.
- Fill Up Your Tank: It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong when we are stressed and depressed. Try to do something that brings you joy to combat the negative thread in your mind. That fills up your happiness tank. For me, that’s reading. So I’m going to be diving into The Woman in the Window tonight, which is a book for my book club. For you, it might be spending time in your garden, reading or watching a comedy, spending time with family, getting your toes or hair done… it will look different for everyone. But take that time to care about your soul, and fill up your tank.
- Talk it Out: This won’t work for everyone, because some people are just naturally internal processors. But I’ve found that if I talk about the stress or worries I’m experiencing, it takes away their power. But don’t pick just anyone, and don’t talk about just anything. Give yourself permission to talk about what’s stressful or fearful in a way that encourages you to move on from it with someone who you trust to come alongside you with optimism. My husband is my person to do this with, and I sit down with him and I say things like “It’s okay for me to be stressed about this, and if I have an anxiety attack in the middle of it, the world isn’t going to end.” He affirms what I’ve said, and then provides other reminders that it’s all going to be okay.
- Go Swimming: I’ll be honest, this is strictly a personal recommendation. Last year, I was struggling with incredibly debilitating anxiety attacks. I couldn’t get out of bed. I had hot flashes and aggressive nausea. I felt like crying all the time. I am lucky enough to live a 5 minute drive to the beach, so I started exercising in the morning and then floating in the ocean with my husband for about 30 minutes. Then it shifted to spending time once a week at the public pool. There is something calming about being in the water… something that clears your mind and allows you to truly relax and let your fears go.
- Be Grateful: It is a proven fact that focusing on others builds happiness in your own life. I give gifts to neighbors, mail cards to friends, do giveaways of my books, tell my husband how much I appreciate him, call my family to hear about their lives. I don’t know the science behind why this is an effective method for dealing with stressors, but my assumption is that when you think about others, it gives you less time to focus on the smaller things in life that trip you up, while still putting your mind to work.
I hope this list was helpful in some way. I’ve been practicing each of these things and can already see a difference in my mental attitude. Hopefully my focus will be able to swing back up in the next while.
Do you have an effective method for releasing tension or coming out of a slump? Share in the comments!