In Defense of Hope: A 5-Step Exercise to Access Hope

In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to spend the next few posts talking about mental health. This is a subject close to my heart as I have struggled with depression for 13 years, survived two suicide attempts, and suffered four major psychotic breaks with reality. My aim is to offer what I have been able to find helpful to others who struggle.

I understand all too well how hard support and help are to access. Like so many other blogs and social media posts this month, I will encourage you to reach out for help if you are in crisis. I understand if you’ve repeatedly tried to find help before you may feel exhausted and disillusioned with the whole mental health system. I get that. But I promise, as someone who has been there, you can make it out of this. If you only take one thing away from these blog posts let it be this: Hope is real. Even if you don’t feel hope, please take just one little hopeful baby step.

I firmly believe, no matter where you are or what lies ahead, that the future is worth fighting for. Thank you for reading.

Having Hope is Hard. But I Can Make it More Accessible

Have you ever repeatedly body-slammed a closed door only to realize the door said, “Pull”?

I feel that way about a lot of things in life lately.

It’s not that I expect things to be easy. But there is “HARD” and I know how to approach this, I know the end result will be all the more fulfilling, and I know this is just a challenge that I need to break down into tangible steps…

And there is HARDand I am frustrated that nothing I try seems to make any impact, I expend so much effort and energy that it is painful, and I feel hopeless.

And here’s the thing, I “know” that good thoughts make a difference. I have heard (repeatedly) from counselors and loved ones that hope is a choice. Big bad nasty thoughts are “just a lie.”

I even have talked a little bit about the value of hope on this blog. But I gotta admit, hope has often felt like gritted teeth, screaming until you’re hoarse, clawing, crying, and body slamming a closed door. I “knew” hope worked, but when I did not know how to feel or believe it then the feelings of hopelessness would rush in.

So it came to pass, one Thursday morning, I was feeling dismal, dark, and destructive hopelessness. I had been here a while and I was on the verge of a potential crisis. On a whim, maybe with a tiny sliver of exhausted but real hope, I googled “feeling hopeless all the time.”

I opened nine blogs and articles, one right after the other, and skimmed through them.

Predictably, I saw a lot of things that I did not find helpful, and which reinforced my cognitive distortion that the whole dang mental health system is totally out of whack and professional advice is shoddy and worthless… Yada yada, blog for another time.

But I did find one article with a couple of truths that resonated so well, I was able to construct an exercise that helped me reframe EVERYTHING.

Now, I think I finally understand how to actively choose and access hope.

I will give an obligatory disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. B-u-u-u-t, I am someone who has struggled with depression and hopelessness. And while we’re being honest (honesty is very important to this whole exercise), I have often found the advice and counsel of mental health professionals to be lacking either because it is unhelpful at best or kind of framed in a detrimental, harmful way at worst. There have been good exceptions (we are honest here) but my main point is that this helped me make a HOPE BREAKTHROUGH and I know how valuable that could be to anyone out there stuck in a cycle of hopelessness.

With a couple of key points from the article I found, I constructed a 5-Step exercise for myself. I then wrote like 14 things that I felt hopeless about and performed the exercise for all of them. I did not get anything else done that morning, BUT I moved from a space of extreme hopelessness to a space of tangible hope in a way that felt authentic and accessible for the future.

In performing my exercise, it FINALLY CLICKED:

  • Why choosing hope is effective.
  • How to frame and understand hopelessness so that I could choose hope.
  • And most importantly, how I could create a path with hope to my most desirable outcomes.

When I finished the exercise, I was elated, weepy, happy, and so, so excited to tell people. It felt like I finally saw the sign that said, “Pull.” And the door I’d been beating at for ages just OPENED.

I am sharing this because I really think this might help someone else. You might “know” these things as well. But perhaps my framing, explanation, and exercise can help you find that CLICK.

The Purpose of Hopelessness

This article in Very Well Mind originally inspired this blog. While there were a number of points in the article that resonated and helped me to construct this exercise, there was one prong of their argument that felt misaligned.

One of the actions they recommend is that you think about what you “gain” from hopelessness. They provide two examples of ways your hopelessness might be maladaptive. This part did not resonate and even felt a little icky to touch because I disagreed with their two examples. Furthermore, I think framing it in the way that they did can be unhelpful or hurtful to someone feeling hopeless.

I do agree with what I think they were trying to say, which is that hopelessness does serve a purpose.

I will give their two examples, and the reasons I disagree. Then, I will give two examples of my own that I feel better fit the nature of hopelessness.

VeryWell Mind’s Example 1: Being hopeless protects you from being disappointed. If you don’t expect anything good to happen, you don’t have to feel disappointed when nothing good happens.

I disagree because: Disappointment often precedes hopelessness. You typically get knocked down first and then you start expecting nothing good to happen. To add insult to injury, even when you expect nothing good to happen you can still feel immense disappointment when your prediction comes true.

VeryWell Mind’s Example 2: Being hopeless might help you feel all right about not taking action. It protects you from creating change or doing anything differently.

I disagree because: This one felt personal because it has been leveled at me by multiple therapists, counselors, and some well-meaning loved ones. I’ll state it another way so that you understand why I believe this is an unhelpful way of framing hopelessness. This one says, “You are hopeless because you are lazy.” For starters, this is a personal attack on character. This says you are failing because, on some level, you are comfortable and don’t actually want to try. This is so, so cruel to say to someone who is hurting. There are many situations in my life where I desire change and I fight for change every possible way I know how. Being told I’m “not even trying” makes me feel even more hopeless. Remember body-slamming the door that said, “Pull”? Sometimes, throwing more effort and energy at the problem is not the most effective solution. And while the answer might be deceptively simple, you have to be able to access it. If you can’t read, are blind, or the door doesn’t have a sign on it that says, “Pull” and someone yells at you to try harder, how hopeful do you feel? This idea also ignores how paralyzing hopelessness feels in itself. It saps you of your ability to enact change.

Listen, if it helps you to frame your hopelessness in either of the above ways, by all means, frame it that way. I found both examples to be inadequate, but I was able to think of two ways to frame my hopelessness that both helped me explain the purpose of my hopelessness to myself and how I could find my way back to hope in the midst of them.

My example 1: Hopelessness validates your feelings of grief, loss, or frustration. If a situation seems difficult or unfair, then hopelessness is one way your mind can acknowledge something really hurts.

My example 2: Hopelessness inflates the value of what you want. If you look at other potential outcomes to a situation as undesirable to the point of hopelessness, then it makes the thing you desire feel superior. In this way, hopelessness can help direct you toward what you want. Understanding this about my own hopelessness led to a major lightbulb moment for me. I will cover this in my exercise.

A 5-Step Exercise to Access Hope

Step One:

Start by writing down the situation that makes you feel hopeless.

I feel hopeless because I am afraid something I have wanted and dreamed for myself for a very long time will not come to pass. This makes me feel hopeless because I do not feel like I could ever be happy if I do not have it.

Step Two:

Ask yourself what the full truth of the situation is. Incorporate all the facts. Consider all the evidence. Imagine all the possible outcomes, even if they feel unlikely.

Here’s something to remember and consider: Sometimes things feel unlikely because of cognitive distortion and not because they are actually unlikely.

Consider my example. I said that I did not feel like I could ever be happy if my dream did not come to pass. But what’s the full, nuanced truth? This is where the lightbulb moment happened for me.

It’s a beautiful dream, but realistically very few people get to have it and furthermore, in honesty, they are not better people or living better lives because they have it. Acknowledging that the future can look different than what I want does not cheapen the dream or make it less beautiful. My desires are good, but not getting the things I desire is not bad or wrong. There are many paths to a beautiful, happy life and fulfilling existence. It is not true that I am broken if I lose it. It is not true that I could not be happy if my life took a different direction.

Step Three:

Now, ask yourself what all the possible outcomes of your situation are. What’s the worst thing that could happen AND what’s the best thing that could happen?

In example, let’s say you feel hopeless because you really want to have a significant other and you fear you won’t ever have that.

What are the bad things that could happen? Well, you could never meet anyone and feel miserable about it.

What are the good things that could happen? You could meet a really great person, get married and spend the rest of your life with that person. OR you could find happiness and fulfillment in life without a significant other.

Step Four:

Now, ask yourself, if you had HOPE in this situation, what would you do?

For my example of the significant other: You might try going on dates or exploring new avenues for meeting people. You could also seek to find joy and fulfillment in being alone or spending time investing in platonic relationships.

Step Five:

Now, and this is the most important part, TAKE ACTION AS THOUGH THERE IS HOPE.

EVEN IF you don’t feel hope.

ESPECIALLY IF you don’t feel hope.

A therapist said to me once that sometimes you have to believe something before you feel it internally.

When I heard that, it definitely resonated. I could see how it would be effective. But I’m only just now realizing how to enact it practically.

The Key Lessons About Hope and Hopelessness

Three lessons I learned practicing this exercise:

  • One: The least desirable outcome is often improbable, or I am looking at it through a cognitive distortion. Furthermore, being paralyzed by hopelessness actually makes it more likely.
  • Two: While it is true that hope does not guarantee my most desirable outcomes, approaching the situation with a mindset of hope lifts my spirit and helps me to enact a path to a desirable outcome.
  • Three: What I want/desire/picture is good, but I need to be open to looking at things I did not originally want/desire/picture as good possible futures as well. This does not cheapen my dreams, it merely opens my mind to finding happiness in things I did not originally dream.

The third item was the big lightbulb. DING. I think I figured out something fundamental about the nature of desire, dreams, and happiness. This is where my second example of how hopelessness is maladaptive comes into play. In elevating the worth of the thing that I want, hopelessness for other outcomes gives me direction. This could be helpful. When I don’t want something, I don’t feel bad when I don’t get it. When I do want something and I am able to attain it, I can potentially feel even greater reward in getting it. The problem comes in when I do not get what I want. Accepting that things could still be happy or okay initially feels really bad. But why? Because my hopelessness for other outcomes has falsely elevated my perceived value of the thing that I want and letting go feels like cheapening my dream.

When I looked at it that way, I could frame it with compassion and understanding. It is true that loss hurts and not getting what you dreamed really hurts. I may even have to mourn for a time. I can thank my hopelessness for giving me some direction and clarity, but I can also understand that it has obscured some good truths. I can be happy again.

There’s a difference between understanding those key things about hope and “I’m going to scream into the darkness that I have HOPE even if I feel very much like things are hopeless!” (Body-slamming the door.)

The Hopeless Backlash- And How I Escaped That Too

Before I close this blog, I want to be fully honest and make a confession.

I wrote the majority of this post on March 9th, 2023, the day I first constructed the exercise. I had plans to post it sooner, but in the following week, I suffered what I will call “a hopelessness backlash.”

You see, imagining the future as good in the absence of what I really wanted felt like kidding myself after a week. I realized that the most likely outcome of that future was that maybe I would be able to find joy and fulfillment on some level, but twenty years from now I would still wake up in the night and find myself crying because my dream did not come to pass.

And that felt like a future that would not be worth living at all.

In that headspace, I didn’t want to post this blog. I didn’t want to finish my short story, “Drowning” because that story was all about finding hope. If everything fell apart, then I wanted to be able to fall apart too. I wanted to totally flatline.

Well, three days ago, I did the exercise again.

I realized that yes, a big loss like the loss of my dream would hurt and it might even hurt for the rest of my life. That is a future I still deeply fear.

But, Step 4, if I had hope, what would I do?

I would keep fighting for my dream while it is still possible. I would post this blog, I would finish “Drowning.”

And while those felt somewhat insurmountable in the moment, I encouraged myself to do Step 5, and take one little hopeful baby step.

I reached out to a trusted loved one and let them know that I didn’t feel totally okay. I took a bubble bath. Then I sat down and wrote for a half an hour.

And the hope door opened again.

Again, I realized that hope is a powerful, effective force. If you feel hope, you can be safe with yourself, you can feel optimism, and you can move forward to whatever the future may look like.

I pray that you can access hope too. Thank you again for reading.

Read my serial sci-fi story The Control only on Mythrill!

Like my content? You can support me through Buy Me a Coffee with single donations and monthly memberships.

Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

Finding Your Creative Spark Again

My last year of college, I entered into a creative slump.

I recognized that something might be wrong, but I told myself that I was just focusing on school. I would regain my writing mojo when I graduated.

Then I graduated and my creative well was still dry. January rolled around and that year (2018) I made it my goal to finish a new manuscript. But none of my ideas seemed to work anymore. I tried writing for April’s CampNaNoWriMo and every hour was a struggle. I hated everything I typed.

For a few months, I was certain I’d completely lost my spark. Peaked and hit burnout before I could even lay hold of my dream.

Then I suffered a 5-day psychotic break with reality.

[If you need to PRESS PAUSE for a second… Hi! I’m Ally. I have a mental health condition where I have periods of depression and (separately) suffer symptoms of psychosis. Above break was my third (of four) significant psychotic breaks with reality. Yes, I’m taking medication and it seems to be working really well for the most part, thank you for asking.]

It struck like a supernova. Elaborate plotlines and scenarios overtook my conscious, and other worlds collided and cascaded through my mind. It was intense dreaming while I was awake. When I came to lucidity, I had an idea that shaped into a novel.

Now, I cannot stress how much I do not recommend seeking out psychosis to escape a creative slump. 0 out of 10. Terrifying. Drove half-naked. Lost job. Could have died. Awoke in a psyche ward wearing those stupid grippy socks. Don’t do recreational drugs and always remember to take your meds, kids.

But there were lessons I took away from the experience that I think can help others escape a creative slump as well.

First thing to do in order to escape a slump: Know that escape is possible. No matter how long it’s been, you can get out.

Next thing, try one of the items on this list.

1. Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you usually stick to reading, writing, and watching certain genres, branch out and try something different. Cross the lines of medium too.

For instance, if you are a science fiction reader then try a true crime podcast. If you are a fan of romantic comedy films, then try a cozy video game. If you are a writer, attempt watercolor painting. And so on.

You might find that, once you start trying new creative projects and experiencing different forms of art, your creative energy is flowing! It might not be in your original comfort space, but you might be able to take the forward momentum you’ve found back to your comfort-zone projects.

2. Take Five Minutes

Sometimes you can initially feel stuck, but the creative energy just needs a little nudge to get going. So, take a baby step. Tell yourself that you’re going to brainstorm, write, draw, or create for just five minutes.

Maintain focus for just five minutes. Write or create whatever you feel most inclined to create in those five minutes and don’t worry about whether or not it’s good. When your timer goes off, assess how you feel. Do you think you can keep going?

Answer YES? Go for it. Run in that direction for as long as you have momentum.

Answer NO? Don’t panic and don’t despair. This is just one tip of a multitude that you can try! Try the next thing.

3. Explore and Experience

Go beyond your blank page and look for new things to try. Visit an art museum, walk through a botanical garden, take a trip, change your scenery, and meet new people and ask them their stories.

Take notes about your new experience, and then write or draw something afterwards that reflects on that experience. It can be as simple as a journal entry or a sketch of something you saw. Maybe you’ll feel moved to write a poem or create a piece of abstract art.

4. Experiment

Try some exercises that stretch your creative muscles. I have found the vast majority of my writing exercises in What If by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. They range from writing a story in one-syllable words to taking a line of poetry and using it as the first sentence for a short piece of fiction.

Or you can try some writing prompts like the ones in Short Order as organized by Moria King. Sometimes having a starting point is enough to get your ideas flowing.

This final experiment is something I haven’t tried for myself, but I’ve heard it’s remarkably effective for some people: Try changing the font in whatever manuscript you’re working on. I hear Comic Sans is the popular choice.

5. Dream (At Night and By Day)

Dreaming is a lot like psychosis actually. Your brain moves uninhibited in a thousand different directions and makes connections you might never have thought of in the waking world. Several of my ideas have come to me in dreams.

Here are a few ways you can start unlocking the creative power of your own dreams:

  • Write down your dreams. Even if they feel mundane or uninspiring. Writing down your dreams builds your dream recall muscle and you may remember your more interesting dreams better in the future.
  • Try lucid dreaming. When you are conscious of the fact that you are dreaming, you experience dreams in a new way. Some people experience a certain level of control in their lucid dreams. Personally, when I realize that I am dreaming then I like to explore and just let the dream flow in its own direction. Lucid dreams are sometimes easier to retain when you wake up as well.
  • Do something mundane and daydream. When you’re doing something repetitive or dull, let your mind wander. Sometimes your mind starts to come up with scenarios or ideas just to fill the time.

My Spark is Back, How Do I Keep it?

I think creativity is just like a muscle. It can get stronger if you continue to use it. It can grow numb if you cut off its blood supply. I don’t believe it can ever truly be lost, even though it may feel that way.

So how do you keep a slump from happening again? Simple: Keep doing all the things you did to get it back. Even if it’s back in full-force. This way, you can maintain and push your creative energy to go even further.

These are just five possible ways to help unlock your creative energy again. If you’re still in a creative slump, then try seeking the counsel of other creative people. You will realize that you’re not alone in your feelings, and that many people have been through a slump that they later managed to escape.

You can do this. Happy slump-slaying!

Read my serial sci-fi story The Control only on Mythrill!

Like my content? You can support me through Buy Me a Coffee with single donations and monthly memberships.

Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

When Characters “Speak”

[This blog post was originally published on my old blogspot on February 26th, 2021. I no longer use blogspot, but some of the content there is still fun to read and I feel relevant to my current writing journey. It has been somewhat modified but largely remains the same. Please enjoy.]

Characters Fight Back

When I listen to other writers discuss writing, specifically the creation of characters and how they shape their personal plots, I’ve come across a very prevalent mindset. Namely, that characters talk.


Yup. Numerous writers, from the successful and famous doing a televised interview to the obscure blogger that I swap creative ideas with, claim this. They say that their characters talk to them. That they argue. That they won’t do what they’re told. That they have grown personalities so potent they have an audible voice inside the author’s head.

And whenever I encounter this mindset, I feel a little left out. But maybe more weirded out. Because it doesn’t happen to me. My characters do not “speak” to me. Why is it that I feel like *I’m* the crazy one when I say that?

Nope. I made them up. They never talk. They never argue. They stay totally quiet when I conjure them in my brain and move them like the little fictional puppets that they are.

Errmmm… usually. There was one exception. 

The Mermaid Talked

Don’t you just love sifting through old files and finding things you’d completely (maybe willfully) forgotten about?

While hunting for old cover letters to reference, I stumbled on a file called GET AWAY FROM THE WATERv3. 

(GET AWAY FROM THE WATER being the short story that won me the award I’m so obnoxiously proud of. It’s published in the Spring 2016 issue of eleven40seven and it’s on page 54 of this PDF. Go forth. Read. Enjoy. Be slightly horrified.)

“Ah!” I said to myself. “I appear to be missing the raw file on my current computer. I will copy and paste that over on Illustrious Superior Laptop now.”

Click, drag, open, ding, and… *SUDDEN RECOGNITION AND HORROR*

“Oh. Yeah. That was a thing that happened.”

That thing that happened being that I wrote a new version of GET AWAY FROM THE WATER, changing one key detail in the body of the story and tacking on a 366 word alternate ending.


Because the mermaid spoke to me. Yeah. And she was LIVID.

And listen y’all… the mermaid never had a name. She had one line. Her job was to rescue Miriam, speak her wonderous title-dropping one-line, and DIE.

To Be Fair, I Was Slightly Crazy

I’ve talked some about my delusions and psychotic breaks with reality. Long story short, I’ve suffered four major psychosis episodes. This specific incident happened a little after my second major psychotic break. When the loopy chemicals were going strong, I guess.

She didn’t use words. She was not an audible voice. But it was her.

It happened over the course of a few days. My head was puzzling over all the images and scenarios in that psychotic break, trying to make sense of them, and she emerged.

Waves of loss, confusion, and hopelessness passed over me. Her potent sense of utter betrayal. This stupid song played on repeat in my head, and I knew she was singing it. She was angry with me. I’d destroyed her. She felt promised to a happy ending. Entitled, to a happy ending.

And, feeling more than a little terrified, I opened up GET AWAY FROM THE WATER (which I hadn’t touched since it had been published) and wrote an alternate ending.

Changing the Story

In Fiction Writing Workshop class where baby-college-Ally (isn’t she cuuuuute?) first wrote GET AWAY FROM THE WATER, my instructor said, “Hey! You should give Aaron a gun because that’s a small child with a weapon and it adds more drama and tension to that scene where Miriam’s driving to the beach.”

And I was like, “Uhhh… okay we could use some drama and tension. But I’m not giving a small child a gun. What would even be the point of that? Don’t you have to set off a gun you bring into a story?” But my instructor was so enthusiastic and baby-college-Ally wanted to impress the published author, so I gave the kid a big knife.

The first thing I did after the mermaid spoke to me? Change one key detail. Give the kid a gun. 

The next thing I did? Added 366 words. Miriam charges back to the sea and shoots the Leviathan in the eye. Gun goes off. (Are you proud, Chekhov?) And the mermaid gets to live.

There’s even a lovely note at the end of the document where I talk back to the mermaid (pictured above): “Are you happy now? I’ll write you a full novel one day. Today you’re just a short story, but know you’re not finished yet. If I die before I complete you, know that you found help and you survived. You lived happily ever after. You met a great guy and had lots of adorable mer-babies.”

She hasn’t spoken since.

To be fair, no character of mine has “spoken” since. Or before. And I was a little delusional when this incident happened, so I would like to confirm something for the rest of you authors who claim your characters “speak.” 

You are, in fact, crazy. Thank you.

Read my serial sci-fi story The Control only on Mythrill!

Like my content? You can support me through Buy Me a Coffee with single donations and monthly memberships.

Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

10 Activities to Lift a Low Mood (For Writers)

One of the tools in my mental health defense kit, right up next to my Future-Worth-Fighting-For affirmation candle, is something I like to call my low-mood list. This is a list of things that have helped me boost my mood in the past. The idea being that when I’m in a depressive state, I can refer to this list and give myself a mental boost. That list contains items like “Text/Call your sister,” and “Do a workout.”

As a writer, you might have a lot of cause to feel low. Rejection. Bad reviews. Low sales. Being creative is really hard, man. But I’ve become a big believer in the sheer power of changing your mindset.

This list is equipped with writing-flavored mood boosters. For the moments you feel low, try something on this list! If it doesn’t help, try something else. If nothing helps, I still have advice for you.

Get A Writer Goodie that Affirms You

Behold! My many affirming laptop stickers!

Crush imposter syndrome and own your writing identity with a Writer Goodie! What Writer Goodie? Get any kind of Write Goodie your heart desires!

We’ve got mugs, we’ve got t-shirts, we’ve got journals and notebooks!

I got some of my favorite writing stickers from LostinFictionDesigns on Etsy and the Scribbler subscription box. My “Future Bestselling Author” mug came from Books A Million.

(These are not affiliate links and no one has paid me any amount of change to recommend these products, I’m just recommending them cause I love them.)

Whatever Writer Goodie you get, wear it or flaunt it proudly. You earned it just by embarking on this hard journey of writing!

Create an Upbeat Playlist for Your Project

Spotify Playlist for The Control

One of the most beautiful sources of inspiration is a little upbeat music. Creating a playlist for a project is part of the creative process for me, and when I visit the songs and music pieces that make me think about my project, I can often find inspiration on where to go next in the story.

Create a Vision Board for Your Project

This is one I actually hadn’t tried out before I started this blog post, but I see other writers on Twitter and Instagram make these all the time. Similar to the Project Playlist, this is an exercise that helps you think about the visuals of your project and what kind of feel you want your story to have.

Try a Fun Writing Exercise

Dive into your craft and stretch your creative muscles with a fun writing exercise.

Some of my favorite exercises come from What If by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. Here are some examples:

  1. Write a story using only words that contain one syllable.
  2. Write about the items in your character’s bathroom cabinet.
  3. Write a story using a found line of poetry.
  4. Write a first sentence that begins your story in the middle of the action.
  5. Write a story where a character’s imagination is overtaken by an obsession.

One of these What If exercises directly led to my awarding-winning short story GET AWAY FROM THE WATER. You might be surprised where an exercise can lead you too.

Take a Writing Break

Sometimes, you just need to unplug. If you’re in a negative rut and having a hard time escaping, then it might be time to step away from the keyboard for a little bit.

Take a walk. Watch a movie. Read a book. Put writing on the shelf for a moment and let yourself be present in whatever you’re exploring in the world beyond your imagination.

Revisit Your Sources of Inspiration

As writers we are often inspired by the work of others who wrote before us. If you have a significant source of inspiration: a favorite author, favorite image, favorite film or TV show, or any other source, then revisit that place where you felt inspired and allow it to inspire you again. Sometimes when you’re thinking about the kinds of stories you want to tell, it can lift your spirit thinking about how your story could one day produce the same spirit of inspiration in others.

Make a Small Writing Goal (And Crush That Goal!)

Lack of progress got you down? Make a small goal. It can be something as simple as telling yourself to just write for 5 minutes or just write 100 words.

Then give yourself the dopamine hit of making it happen. Even better, sometimes all it takes to get really moving is just a little bit of forward momentum. That five minutes could turn into fifty-five minutes, and those first 100 words could easily become 1,000.

Organize or Design Your Writing Space

My writing desk back at my old apartment.

If you have an office space where you do most of your writing, then it might give you a quick mood boost to spend some time getting that space in order.

Back when I had a desk space in my apartment, I took great delight in decorating and daydreaming about making my space as magical as possible. It brings me great joy to put up pictures of loved ones and cover available space with happy knick-knacks and other goodies.

If you have a space already, spend some time tidying it up or organizing it so that it feels inviting and inspiring.

Read Back Over Something You’re Proud You Wrote

Sometimes, you can read back over something you wrote and feel a burst of awe. Did you really write that? That’s pretty darn good, if you do say so yourself.

When I’m feeling low and not as proud of my writing as I’d like to be, I revisit projects that I’m really happy with like GET AWAY FROM THE WATER, CREEPER, and even my old Sims 3 story. (Dare I link this? Eh, sure.) I feel a little glow of happiness knowing that I was the one who brought those words into being.

Celebrate Your Writing Victories

Count no victory too small. When I’m feeling low, I like to remind myself of the things that I have accomplished in the writing world.

I’ve had two short stories published by eleven40seven, and one of them won an award. I won third place in SciCom’s Science Meets Fiction Contest. My why-not pitch to Mythrill got The Control published on their platform. I finished NaNoWriMo after an 11-challenge losing streak in 2022. I’ve cut out and saved fun comments from my writing critique group.

Did you make a certain word count? Hear a bit of praise from a beta reader? Make a sale? File it away in your victory box and remind yourself of it when you feel low.

When Nothing Helps- I Still Have Advice

I’ve had days where I’ve tried everything on my low-mood list and absolutely nothing seemed to make any kind of impact. If that’s happening for you, don’t give in to despair just yet. Some of my emergency mood-boosters include intense exercise and a sharp temperature change (usually in the form of a cold shower or dunking my face in ice water). You can also aim to distract yourself with a fun video or a call to a good, caring friend. The idea is to interrupt the negative thought patterns long enough to start thinking truth again.

No matter what, remember that whatever low you’re feeling can pass. It hurts to think optimistically sometimes, but it really can make a difference if you let it.

I hope this low-mood list designed just for writers has helped lift your spirits for the afternoon. Keep writing and keep dreaming big!

Read my serial sci-fi story The Control only on Mythrill!

Like my content? You can support me through Buy Me a Coffee with single donations and monthly memberships.

Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

Fireworks and Unicorn Logo

2022 in Review

This year brought hardship and trial, but I’m looking back over the past 12 months with gratitude. So what went right this year for me?

Let’s Look Back

I read 30 books. Initially, I was really disappointed in myself for this number because guyz… THIS IS AN ALL-TIME LOW FOR ME! I have kept track of my books read every year since 2009 and this is the SMALLEST number it’s ever been.

But then, I decided to cut myself some slack. This year was a tough cookie and my life has changed a lot since my 2018 record of 161 books. I’m hoping to read so much more in 2023!

For all the well-meaning peeps who say, “Just read what you like and have fun, don’t worry about counting or numbers!”

Dude, the counting and numbers make it 10x more fun for me.

I’ve been much more active on social media this year, and I think I posted my first TikToks this year. The platform still kinda scares me, but I’m looking forward to learning more about the BookTok community.

I threw Imagine Destiny this year! This masquerade ball was the cumulation of a 3-year dream and it was beautiful beyond words.

I started a new job this year. Grateful to be working, but still feeling like I’m not settled at all where I want to be.

October of 2022 was my first writer’s conference, DFWcon. I brought home many a beautiful book and some marketing, publishing, and booktok insight. Looking forward to more conferences to come!

The Control went up on Mythrill! 44 episodes have been published as of this posting. Can I make it to season 2 in 2023?

My big-ticket win: I finished NaNoWriMo and broke a serious NaNo challenge losing streak. And it felt good, man.

So, Happy New Year, What Comes Next?

I have lofty goals for 2023, which include putting HANG ON out there on query, finishing Season 1 of The Control, and reading at least 50 books! I’m excited for the things to come in the new year.

So happy new year, my dear friends. I hope 2023 brings many adventures.

Read my serial sci-fi story The Control only on Mythrill!

Like my content? You can support me through Buy Me a Coffee with single donations and monthly memberships.

Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

The NaNoWriMo Victory Dance!

Scroll through my projects page on the NaNoWriMo website, and you will find a NaNo Challenge graveyard. Heck, scroll through this blog and find GREAT NANOWRIMO DESPAIR!

My first NaNoWriMo voyages were fun and productive! In fact, I found the challenge rather easy. Even juggling high school and college, I made it all the way or super close to 50,000. I think things went wrong when I skipped a year and then graduated college.

My last NaNoWriMo win was November 2015, and since then I signed on for 11 challenges that I did not manage to complete.

Now, the community of writers who champion NaNoWriMo will be quick to point out that it’s not just about getting to the winner screen. It’s about a whole community coming together to cheer each other on, and every word regardless of whether or not it takes you over that finish line is a victory.

But I gotta say…

This sure feels good.

Winning Isn’t Everything, But I’m Celebrating My Victories

I burst out of the gate on November 1st and for about 14k words, I was on fire. Four steps ahead of the progress line and loving every word.

I lost momentum at the start of week two and came to a standstill about week 3.

Sunday the 27th, sloughing my way to 33k, I almost resigned myself to a 12th challenge lost in my depressing streak.

Monday morning, I woke up and said, “Hey, wait a minute!”

It was a tall order for myself, 17k words in three days, but…

I knew I could do it.

So, I did. Wrote like madness for two evenings, getting about 8k words each day before claiming a win on lunch break of the final NaNoWriMo day.

All in all, if my timers are correct, it was about 40 hours of work at an average typing speed of 1,250 words per hour.

No, my fingers do not hurt and no keyboards were harmed in the making of this happy winning month.

I Wrote a Novel, Now What?

People familiar with my writing journey will know that I have actually sat here with sloppy first-draft in hand many times.

Counting the darlings on my hard-drive, this makes manuscript full draft number 16 actually…

My dream for my NaNoWriMo 2022 project (PSYCHOSURGE!) would be for it to be traditionally published by a major press. But for the moment, I’m going to shelve it.

I have a novel project that I wrote (independent of NaNoWriMo) in 2018 called HANG ON. That project is still something I consider my best work, and I still dream of getting it traditionally published. My goal for December and for 2023 is to get it into submission-shape.

I’ve made a submission-ready HANG ON my year’s goal in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 now. Some people might call that a depressing failure streak.

But… I’ve proven to myself that I can break one of those.

So cheers to the end of bad patterns and the liberation from old habits!

Read my serial sci-fi story The Control only on Mythrill!

Like my content? You can support me through Buy Me a Coffee with single donations and monthly memberships.

Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

World Suicide Prevention Day

It’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and today in particular is World Suicide Prevention Day.

If you or someone you love is facing a mental health crisis, you can now reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in the US by dialing or texting 988.

Mental Health is a subject near and dear to my heart. Long before I suffered my first psychotic break with reality, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I’d been in emotional turmoil for almost a year before my official diagnosis.

I understand the suicidal mindset all too well. I have made two attempts to take my life.

Recently, I was reading about Vincent Van Gough and a theory that he didn’t die by suicide caught my attention. One of the pieces of evidence against his suicide was his hopeful demeanor in letters prior to his death. I’ve heard similar things said of other public figures who died by suicide. They couldn’t have killed themselves, because they appeared happy or they were making plans for the future.

Mental Health Can Be a Tug-of-War

I’ve been in periods of darkness that seemed without end. But I’ve also been in spaces where I’ve felt Hope and Hopelessness battling inside of me. Depression can sometimes feel like a Tug-of-War. If your loved one is battling severe depression and suicidal ideation, it’s important for you to understand that while periods of hope are a good sign, they are not the end of the battle.

I have to admit, I don’t really know when the battle ends. Maybe never.

There was a point in time where I felt like it was inevitable that one day I would lose. But right now? That inevitability doesn’t feel so certain anymore. I’ll take that as a good sign.

Right Now, as Long as I’m Fighting, I’m Winning

I know from experience that when you’re suicidal, you don’t necessarily need an inspiring speech. Sometimes you just need someone to sit with you and hold you while you cry for an hour. Sometimes you just need one reason to keep going for the next hour. Something as simple as petting your furry friend or calling a family member can stave off the darkness for a little while.

I consider each new day a victory. I look at the little candle on my bulletin board and I choose Hope for today.

I’m not a doctor or a counselor, but I am someone who feels like I’m surviving the darkness. If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, know that there are people who care and who want to help you. Sometimes, that’s all you need. ❤️

Read my serial sci-fi story The Control only on Mythrill!

Like my content? You can support me through Buy Me a Coffee with single donations and monthly memberships.

Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

Imagine Destiny Video on YouTube

Behold! My masquerade ball video is now on YouTube. Magical memories.

My Imagine Destiny Masquerade Ball YouTube Video.

Read my serial sci-fi story The Control only on Mythrill!

Like my content? You can support me through Buy Me a Coffee with single donations and monthly memberships.

Until next time, my glorious herd! Imagine, dream, and believe.

🦄 ❤️AllytheUnicorn❤️ 🦄

In Defense of Hope: The Little Candle on my Bulletin Board

In 2012 during outpatient care for my first major depressive episode, I drew a little design to put on my bulletin board:

A candle with my new mantra on it.

A close up of a burning candle wick with the words: “You DO have a FUTURE and it is WORTH FIGHTING FOR.”

During those months in outpatient care, I imagined hope as a tiny little flame against a sea of infinite darkness. It felt too small, too weak, and too fragile to survive. But still it burned. Still, I repeated my new mantra to myself and carried forward.

There have been points I have wanted to rip that little candle down. There have been days I have looked at my candle and with tears in my eyes have said to myself, “No, THIS was not worth fighting for. THIS has not been worth the pain and the hardship that I have endured. THIS is not enough.”

Then there are moments where I feel that flicker of joy and realize that THIS, my life, my dreams, the future after my first attempt to take my life, has been worth embracing.

It has not been easy. But I think I knew that when I first wrote my new mantra. FIGHTING is not easy. Having HOPE is HARD.

But I count every blessing and celebrate every victory.