On the Discouraging Days

Thursday, December 08, 2022


Yesterday I had one of those days, and it’s spilling over into today. I’ve let that negative voice in my head discourage me. I’m not sure what triggered it. It could be several days in a row of gloomy, cold, drizzly weather (I’ve been prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder in the past) or it could be the result of completing a massive revision on my young adult novel last week. I took a few weeks off writing and producing for my podcast, "Missing in the Carolinas" so I could focus on the book edits and when I sat down yesterday to work on the new episode . . . I couldn’t do it. I was tired, fatigued, anxious about being behind on holiday prep and shopping and a slew of other things. 

I’m a person who is very goal oriented, and have been all my life. It’s why I do well with writing and editing sprints, such as National Novel Writing Month. They include firm deadlines and I get a rush from the adrenaline of the intense focus and fast pace. It’s probably why I also excelled at my former job of being a magazine editor, because we worked under similar conditions. That position also caused me a great deal of anxiety due to a lack of staff support, but that's another story!

In September, I left my job as a magazine editor so I could focus solely on ramping up my podcast and writing fiction. But last night, when I ran into a block putting together my latest podcast episode, I let it bother me too much. I admitted I will not be able to produce an episode this week, by Friday at least, and I felt like a failure. I have the idea and framework for the next two episodes, but something is keeping me from moving forward. 

I felt like I should have bounced back after completing those book revisions and write the usual long-form script. Depending on how you look at it, I’m fortunate because I don’t have regular sponsors to keep me on a regular production schedule. That’s also unfortunate, because it allows me to slack off when I have a few of these “negative self talk” days. My husband tried to tell me to give myself grace because I’ve been working hard and consistently writing, even if it feels like I’m not “achieving” things on the pace that I would like. I think the fact that I now have to design my own podcast website after the designer I hired fell through is also weighing on me. 

I’m taking things one day at a time right now. My daughter, who went off to college seven plus hours away this year, will be home tomorrow for her winter break. I’m going to embrace her being home, read a good book, plan some quality family time, and put together a game plan for the podcast, book launch, and another book revision for early spring. Things are looking up, even if that voice in my head tries to tell me they are not. 

How do you combat negative self talk and still find a way to complete creative projects? I'd love to hear your strategies!

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and host/creator of the true crime podcast Missing in the Carolinas.


Nicole Pyles said...

I struggle with this so much! I am trying to get back into a creative zone lately. I started out by adding random reminders on my phone to trigger me to take a creative break, but only ended up annoying myself.

I think what's affected me is the amount of rejections I've gotten this year on some stories close to my heart. And I know it's part of the process but it's still frustrating.

I haven't quite figured out the formula to get myself on track but I know how you feel!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Renee ~ You've worked so hard for so long under stressful conditions, it's normal to feel exhausted even when you don't have those deadlines looming over your head. And many of us are stressed out because of the holidays.

The other day I was chatting with a WOW coworker, and I applauded her for turning in her assignment early. She's usually an up-to-the-deadline or a day late type. She suggested I watch the Netflix documentary, Stutz, by Jonah Hill, because it helped her with productivity. Stutz, who is Jonah Hill’s therapist, said that when you don’t know what to do (in life or with anything), think of yourself as a pyramid. On the bottom level is your health, taking care of yourself by eating and exercise, because they both are essential for mental health and well being. The second level is people, having solid relationships as a foundation of support. And the top of the pyramid is yourself; loving yourself and accepting yourself. He showed a way to separate yourself from the negative self-talk, but not by suppressing or eliminating it but by loving it as a shadow of yourself. It was amazing! He also shared some great techniques for other things like grief, letting go, and more. We both wished there was less Jonah Hill in the documentary (lol), but the tools the therapist shared were fantastic. You might check it out. :)

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