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?

My Facebook writing page:
http://www.facebook.com/NissaAnnakindt

9 comments:

Trisha F said...

Sorry you are struggling with depression - it's not fair! I think you are doing many good things in trying to overcome your writer's block - keep up the good work!

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

I exercise also to get the creative juices flowing. And reading.

As far as working through depression, yeah that is a different kind of animal. Sometimes it helps me to write a paragraph about what a character is feeling at that particular moment. Their POV. I don't know if that will help you get through the depression but give it a try.

Again, I'm glad you are using exercise to get through. Good job!!!

Chrys Fey said...

I've suffered from depression and I still do, and when I'm in a bout of depression it is very hard to write. It is hard to even get motivated to write. Oddly enough, when I can get myself to write while depressed, I tend to notice that my writing is better. Isn't that odd?

I hope you can break through this soon! And using exercise to do it is great! :) Exercise really is mood-enhancing, and it can help us to clear our minds too, which is always a good thing. ;)

Tara Tyler said...

my mom has depression. i ache for her when she gets low because theres nothing i can do to help. im very glad you are working thru yours and exercise is a great part of that! keep writing when you can, even if its just updating us!

Krisi Keley said...

I'm sorry to hear you're suffering with depression, Nissa. E-mail me anytime if you're looking for someone to talk to about things. We've got a lot in common, I think, though my depression doesn't swear in Yiddish (usually just English with maybe a little French thrown in on occasion). But, broke Catholic writer, language enthusiast and animal person with a particular fondness for the mystery/crime and (paranormal) fantasy genres who is very familiar with mental illness, self-esteem issues and the creepy voice that tries to undermine one's writing. I tend to be an introvert who isn't very comfortable with talking about personal stuff in public though, unless I incorporate it into fiction writing. Anyway, you're not alone and I'd love to talk to you about your new crime mystery endeavor or anything else you'd want to talk about.

You're in my prayers,
Krisi
jcsgs11@aol.com

Julie Dao said...

Excellent post. I have a very close friend who struggles every day with depression, and I applaud your courage in battling it. I find that writing is very therapeutic, and I always feel better when I jot something down in a journal or diary whenever I'm feeling angry or sad or frustrated. Hoping the creative juices flow for you this year!

Nissa Annakindt said...

Thanks to all for the kind words and encouragement. It's made me feel very undepressed.

It does seem to help me to blog about my struggles because at least I feel like by sharing I might help someone else who's going through a struggle. Of course some people might think that's being 'whiny' but I feel like it's more about being honest.

readfaced said...

I really appreciate your post. When I get down I can't cope at all. I am so glad to see that you are pushing through and making strides towards coming out of it.

When my writing is blocked, I tend to sit down at the computer anyway. I go back over the previous few paragraphs or thought I've had and just start typing. Most the time it doesn't make sense. I know it will be cut out later, but sometimes something special happens. The story unfolds in a way I didn't know it would.

Good luck and keep writing, even if it is only on your blog.

Leanne ( http://readfaced.wordpress.com/ )

Heather Musk said...

Depression is a horrible thing to deal with, I too succumb to this particular beast from time to time.
Writing through it though is a good way to cope, even if what you write during that time is purely for you and not intended for public consumption. It serves its purpose if it helps get you through to the other side quicker.

I hope you'll be on the up soon, and thanks for stopping by my blog.

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