Finishing a draft in the month of January is tricky. The January Blues are a real thing. The holidays are behind you, it gets dark too quickly, all of your bills are still due, and you gradually descend from holiday joy back to the standard feelings of despair and self-loathing. Some will read this and think I’m being dramatic and others will say, “YES! I know exactly how that feels!” and I’m writing this for you both.
After completing two drafts of my screenplay, I found myself basking in the fuzzy afterglow of my accomplishment. It felt like I had been walking in a cold dark alley without enough layers on, then I turned a corner and the sun was out, waiting to wrap itself around me. It was the warmth of finishing something difficult and feeling proud of the work I had done.
I shared my work with a few people I trust and they were gracious enough to give me their feedback and notes. Some held back their criticism a bit because they know my skin isn’t as thick as other seasoned writers. Others chose to be up-front and direct so I could hear what I needed to hear and learn from it. To all of them, I am forever grateful. They read something that came from my soul and showed me how I can improve it.
Getting the notes for my screenplay was simultaneously terrifying, eye-opening, difficult, and incredibly helpful. It felt a little overwhelming, and a part of my sadness comes from knowing I’ve come so far but still have so much farther to go. I also feel like a failure because I couldn’t magically get it right the first time. Yes, I understand it’s a process that takes time and growth, but I’m competitive and my brain is very loud about how much she wants to win. This isn’t about winning though, this is about connecting. Sometimes I forget this, and during the saddest month of the year, I need to be reminded.
Two things I have done to help me through this process are hiking and running. I know I sound like one of those people trying to get you to join my running cult, but these simple acts have changed so many aspects of my mental health. When I’m feeling low, I’ll wake up and my mind will try to convince me to just stay in bed, to stay in the sadness. I think it’s important to feel the sadness and respect the feeling. I am not saying you should numb the pain, but I am saying you should pull yourself out of that quicksand of misery and let your mind know that you are still in control. For me, going for a hike or run helps clear away the fog. I always finish feeling accomplished, and the endorphins help me start the rest of my day with a more positive outlook.
These hikes are helpful in connecting to other people as well. The simple smiles shared between passing strangers, the husky man carrying his long-haired dachshund in a gym bag who always waves hello, and the tiny flock of gossiping grandmas all give me joy.
Also, this is not a commercial for Spotify but if you go on your hike and happen to listen to their “Discover Weekly” playlist, it’s like your friend just gave you a cool mixtape. For the young people out there, that was one of the coolest gifts a loved one could give you. Anyway, whether it’s hiking or not, I hope you find what works for you to help keep you happy, healthy, and motivated. Stay safe and keep creating!