Writing and Depression

I accomplished something this past week that I’m very proud of. I tend to write as the muse strikes, not good practice, and postings on the blog are sporadic to say the least. This week, I’ve scheduled posts – a week in advance! I have been remiss at keeping up with posting on a regular basis. Work has been hectic and the rest? Well, I was furiously working on editing a manuscript, readying it for the conference I attended in October.

But those are all excuses. I need to take blogging seriously. It has helped me meet other writers online and my support network has slowly grown because of it. For the longest time, I felt I was essentially talking to myself.  I’ve performed on a stage in front of people and been pulled to the front of classrooms to lead when the teacher walks out. In other words, I can put myself out there to be applauded or ridiculed. Yet, it’s been an adjustment writing down my thoughts and experiences and putting them out for everyone to read. I’m still convincing myself that what I have to say is worth putting out there.

And that thought needs to be dealt with if I want to take my writing seriously as well. I’ve never been a good sales person, yet people I’ve talked to about my writing say I could easily sell it. The passion is there. The desire is there.  Yet that doubt creeps in, as it did when I had my one on ones with the agents at the conference. I was confident going in then as soon as I opened my mouth, I thought these women are going to laugh me out of the room. They didn’t, but the experience helped break down a bit of that confidence enough for me to see that I still need to improve on a number of things in order to get my work published. Or even seriously looked at.

Apparently, I picked a vocation that lends itself to depression. Writing can be a solitary endeavor and is full of rejection and doubt. The internet has alleviated this for some who choose to take the time to network online. I’ve slowly started making connections. And while I want to be helpful to others in the same boat as myself,  I have found I steer clear of those spewing negativity. I already have enough doubts running rampant through my subconscious. I don’t need to give these people free rein to wreak havoc on top of that.

Depression runs on my mother’s side of the family. I wouldn’t doubt that it would be diagnosed as clinical depression, but I don’t think anyone bothered to go to the doctor for it. Luckily, I think I ended up with a much more manageable case of depression, but those feelings tend to hamper my efforts, especially during this time of year. I haven’t done any significant writing since November. I may have added two thousand words to my work in progress and have not done any editing. Which helps add to the malaise after a month of writing at least that many words in a single day, on multiple days.

Depression affects my writing two-fold. It saps my energy and it takes everything I have to turn on the computer when I get home. Which I haven’t done much of these last four weeks. Not writing doesn’t feel very good. But then, I have hit somewhat of a wall. Partly because I’m not sure what direction I want the story to go and party because the depression has given wings to doubt that what I’m writing will be good enough.

The second part of the depression  holds me back. I wonder if my writing lacks an emotional depth that I know I’m capable of parlaying onto the page. I worry that if I let myself feel too deeply, the depression will take a stranglehold and I will be unable to pull myself out of it.  I wonder how many others struggle with this also. I’ve seen a few other posts on depression and how people work through it. I just hope I am able to find a happy medium, so to speak, where I am able to plumb the depths of emotions and still be able to pull myself back out.

I recently bought this shirt in an effort to lighten my mood and maybe help my characters come forth if I attempt to inject humor into my writing efforts.

My imaginary friends have been suspiciously silent this month.

What do you do to ensure the depression doesn’t win over the craft? Are there other emotions that tend to get in the way of your writing?

Melanie

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7 thoughts on “Writing and Depression

  1. I love that t-shirt!

    *hugs* I’ve got three children who are bipolar (two are diagnosed and one is in denial–all three have attempted suicide). While I don’t suffer from depression myself, it’s been a fact of my daily life for over 30 years (my first husband was bipolar and killed himself).

    I feel for you. I’m glad you recognize it and appear to be proactive about it. That can be huge. There’s so much they can do to now to help people who are willing to help themselves. I’ve heard from some writers who talk about what an outlet their writing can be to their depression. I hope yours can be this to you

    I’m sure you’ve seen this video before, but too bad. lol I love it and listen to it often because I find it so encouraging.

    We get better by doing. So write. Every day. It doesn’t have to on your WIPs. It could even be a diary or journal. But take time to focus your thought every day and write them down. It doesn’t have to be a long time either.

    Mel, I think you’re wonderful, and I love your writing.

    1. Thanks for posting that video again. Love it. I was thinking about the writing everyday when I wrote this post. I fell off the wagon about three weeks shy of completing The Artist’s Way. I’ve written a few entries, but I don’t do it every morning like I was. The notebook is still there and I may need to get back into that because I did notice it made a difference and the transition from school to NO school easier. Writing every day is another of my goals for 2012. Another writer friend J.D. Faver http://www.jdfaver.com/ is on day 845 (I think) of her quest to write at least 100 words a day no matter what. I may have to start that next year. She’s been after me to join in! lol

      I’ve thought about suicide (a long time ago), but when it came down to it, the desire to do all the things I’d dreamed of doing stopped me from actually planning how to do it. Plus I couldn’t bear to do that to my parents – they’d already lost one child. And I just knew I’d mess it up and probably end up a vegetable in a diaper. *shudder*

      I’ve been extremely lucky with the people I’ve met since getting serious about writing. The network that is starting to grow is full of amazing, helpful, encouraging and most interesting people I could ever hope to meet. And you’ve been a big help. Thanks for all your encouragement, critique and help with my writing. Reading your comments have helped get me out of a funk on more than one occasion! 🙂

      Mel

  2. Being of Scottish ancestry I lean toward melancholy more than full on depression and strangely enough tend to write more when I’m hit with that mood. Staying away from the negativity is huge whether or not you suffer from depression. By focusing on the positive you encourage positive energy to find you.

    Good luck finding balance…it is the ongoing struggle.

    1. Ah melancholy, another ‘friend’ of mine. There have been times where I’ve written through the depression and they’ve been some very moving scenes. Finding the balance if a big goal of mine next year. I need to learn to harness the emotions and channel them into my writing. Even if it’s just a “Kill the World” poem that will never see the light of day. Just to get it out of me and onto the paper.

      Thanks Raelyn!

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