When Karen invited me to do this guest post, I was really pleased because I had a great subject in mind but as I was writing away, I got an overwhelming desire to embark upon an entirely different subject, one that is a little more personal and a lot more painful.
reads the biographies of writers through the ages, a common theme is that many
writers, especially those who may deal with darker subjects, are victims of
depression. According to health.com
writers are #5 in the list of twenty-one professions most likely to suffer from
afflicted by depression from time to time. I have no idea whether it is
‘clinical’ depression—I’ve never discussed it with a doctor, partly because I
would refuse to be medicated for it—or whether I’m just feeling very down.
However, when depressed, I cease to be very functional and find that when I
should be writing, I am staring off into space and when I should be tweeting or
blogging, I am hiding in some computer game, which behavior of course deepens
the depression. These episodes can last from a few days to several weeks.
friends who are writers, actors, artists or who work in other creative fields
and many of them fight similar issues. So if you are a writer reading this, you
may relate to what I am saying.
found no magic formula for dealing with depression but have come up with three
things that can help.
1: Stop blaming yourself. Depression is a neurochemical process that you do not
have complete control over. (Of course, you may be able to help it with
exercise, eating right or medication but if you are like me, you don’t want to
do any of those things when you are depressed.) But you can try giving
yourself a break from the internal blame game. Stop calling yourself names.
Give yourself permission to accept that it is a neurochemical thing and that it
will pass. After all, you are in the very good company of other writers who
deal with (or dealt with) depression: Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, William
Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut, Virginia Wolff, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Raymond
Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, Amy Tan, Henry James and hundreds of others (see here).
These people are not losers, idiots, worthless or any of the names that you
might be applying to yourself. So remember: you aren’t either.
2: Use it. Write it. Go and write a chapter of your novel that is dark or
scary. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fit the rest of the book, later you
will be able to edit it or delete it. You may even find some real gold that
takes your book in an interesting direction. Or try writing another book that
you only work on when you are depressed; use it as a repository for your
feelings and don’t even consider whether or not you want to publish it. I am
planning a political thriller trilogy that I intend to start work on in 2014.
While depressed, I wrote a chapter of it, in which a character is planning his
suicide in detail. I may never use it in the trilogy but it is dark and
3: Read. To escape from my depressions, I tend to gravitate towards computer
card games—I am an avid bridge player—and reading. The last time I was
depressed (very recently), I made an effort to cut down on the games and try
catching up on my blog reading. At about 4 AM one morning—I couldn’t sleep—I found a guest post by British author Rachel Abbott on the It’s
a Crime blog. The post is about her story getting started as an indie
author. One of the things she did was write herself a brief marketing plan. As
I read the post, something triggered in me and I opened a word document. By the
time the family was awake, I had written most of my own business plan. I had stumbled
upon a way forward. Within a day or two I was out of the depression, with a
very useful business plan in my hands. A big thank you to Rachel by the way.
Reading authors’, readers’ and reviewers’ blog posts may lead you to a little
gem that can propel you out of the depression spiral.
a predisposition to depression can help one’s writing. I feel that I understand
Cal Rogan, the protagonist of Junkie, and his feelings as a addict,
because they mirror some of my own feelings during my down cycles.
So if, from time to time, you suffer from depression, give these things a try. They may lead you out of the rabbit hole.
Check out Robert's website: www.robertpfrench.com
In : Guest Posts
Tags: depression writing authors books
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