Tuesday, January 7, 2014
IWSG: Writing While Depressed
This post is for the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop.
Recently my therapist told me I'm depressed. Don't know why he thinks THAT--- maybe it's that during that session I was talking about death all the time? But anyway, I've come to agree with him on the depression thing and so lately I've been coping with Writing While Depressed.
Now, my writing life is pretty messed up already--- first, because of my Asperger Syndrome, and second because of my ongoing struggles with writer's block. In observing myself and my writing process, I think clinical depression adds something to the mix.
In non-depressed times, when starting a writing project, I usually have a few really good, upbeat days when I very much believe in my project and don't have any particular doubts about it. When Writing While Depressed, I have ideas for writing projects that I believe are objectively as good as any others I've had, yet on the very day the ideas occur to me I begin to have 'this idea is dreck' self-talk flitting around my head.
I try to tell myself that this is just the depression talking. And my depression really has got to stop swearing in Yiddish. So far this has helped me to hold on to the writing project in question in spite of the doubts.
Because this writing project is my first attempt at the mystery genre, I'm following the exercises in Writing Crime and Suspense Fiction by Lesley Grant Adamson in order to get the outlining/plotting done. I think of it kind of like an experienced writer is taking my hand and leading me through the world of building a mystery story.
Instead of working out this preliminary stuff on my computer, I'm using a composition book and writing with my lucky purple-ink gel pens. This seems to be a good way of doing it, except that Ender the kitten keeps jumping in my lap and wanting to sit on the composition book.
I'm also fighting the depression's effects with by starting the writing day with exercise. Due to the current Wind Chill Apocalypse I can't go outside and walk, but I put on loud music and the house and pace briskly for a half-hour.
I'm also thinking of breaking out my Lawrence Block 'Affirmations for Writers' audio and playing it. It's a bit on the New-Agey side but there is nothing that really goes off the deep end in it, and I think it does make me feel more confident about my writing.
In a number of how-to-write books I've read that when suffering writer's block one must always remember that it ends. Which doesn't feel all that true in my case, but this depression-induced supercharged writer's block will certainly end, as the depression will end (and come back--- did I mention I'm depressed?)
One thing that HAS perked me up is that since I'm writing a novel centered around a crime, it gives me a great excuse to wallow in all the true-crime books and television programs I like--- because it's research, you see. True stories of murder have been one of my Special Interests since I was a kid and sneaked a peek into some old books about Leopold and Loeb, and the Boston Strangler. Reviving this Special Interest helps me to have a more positive attitude toward my writing project, as anything strongly connected to a Special Interest is something I can feel positive about.
A final factor in Writing While Depressed is that I am far more conscious of being an isolated writer. In fact, depression makes me a more isolated writer than usual since I'm less likely to seek out some semblance of contact with other writers on Facebook and such. In me depression generates a lot of self-talk about how other people don't care for me and never will, and if people don't like me in person why would I expect them to like my writing? I also tend to isolate myself from God, avoiding prayer and even thinking about prayer, though I have forced myself to watch the daily Mass on EWTN a few times (a great 'pill' for depression).
Well, this has turned into a depressing post, hasn't it? But the upbeat part of it that I cling to is that depression isn't forever, even when it feels that way. Even in the worst part of a depression you can always be surprised by a fleeting moment of optimism or good cheer. Cherish those moments. And know that things will get better.
Unless there's a zombie apocalypse. I hate it when there's a zombie apocalypse.
Are you undergoing any special writing challenges right now? How do you cope? Or not cope?
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