This morning, I awoke with one singular, terrifying thought in my mind. All of my work is a disaster, and not a beautiful kind. The kind that needs to come down with a wrecking ball. My art is horrible, and I should probably throw out half of it. Someone might find it one day and it will offend their eyes. Pretty much everything I do is wrong.
This is an unusual state of mind for me. Even rejections don’t bring me down too much. There’s always next time. The next time I send it out. The next manuscript I write. The next idea I have. I like pushing forward. But around this time of year, I have more than my normal amount of what I like to call “The Februaries”.
I didn’t coin the term as far as I can remember. I think it was already a fixture in the homeschooling community when I arrived. But basically, around February, everyone is tired. Tired of the same things. The same old lesson plans. The same wearisome tasks of getting up, cracking open the books, opening them, and trudging on in a never-ending slog of work that must be done.
The cure is different from one family to the next, but most treatments for this state of mind involve a break of some kind, adding something new and valuable to the routine, getting more vitamin D, and above all, remembering that February turns into March, and March is always better.
Like my little bout of despair this morning, which will probably vanish the moment I pick up a paintbrush or open a document to write, this feeling will pass. This isn’t writer’s block, impostor syndrome, or depression. It’s just my current mood, and I can greet it and say goodbye to it without much difficulty. It’s not going to hang around.
Some states of writing fatigue do hang around. Writer’s Block. Burnout. Post-project depression (I’m dealing with a touch of that at the moment), and you know, that fiftieth rejection is pretty tough, too. But for The Februaries, it’s a good idea to have ideas for what works to dispel some of the bad humors. (This is NOT useful at all for clinical depression, which is a bad mf, and needs more than a kick in the rear end to deal with it!)
My cure for the Februaries is typically working a little more on personal projects. I might take more time to clean out a closet, or a cabinet, and get rid of actual garbage or accumulated junk clogging up the space I want for painting and writing projects. I will buy myself an attractive fern or potted plant to decorate my writing space. I’ll paint more pictures, frame them, and hang them on my walls to remind myself that I’m an artist, whether my art offends eyes or not. And I’ll write through the doldrums—potboiler pieces that make me laugh, or make me cry, or do something crazy like turn an epic fantasy into poetry, just because I want to.
Most of all, I will remember that The Februaries don’t last forever. I’ve met them before, and in the end, spring will come again.