The Writer And Depression

I get great emails sometimes, emails from writers with amazing questions.

(I also get emails from jerks, too, who want me to promote their books or who hate me because I once said self-publishing had a “shit volcano” quality problem, but really, the great emails stand head and shoulders above these.)

Yesterday, I guess in response to my post about authorial doubt and envy, a reader wrote in and explained that she suffered from depression and that she appreciated that I suggested that depression was a whole separate beast from writer’s block and you can’t combat them the same way. She said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that she saw one doctor who had kinda burned her out on a lot of medication, and now she’s trying to come out of that somewhat and refocus her concentration. But, in the process? Writing is very difficult. She’s good with ideas, but has a lot of trouble concentrating enough to manage the execution.

And so she wanted to know what makes a “real writer.”

The heart of her email was contained in this question:

Can someone be a real writer if certain components can just brush it away?

Meaning, if your ability to execute as a writer is defeated by one’s brain chemistry, can you be a real writer? Or does that somehow take that away from you? Are you a fraud? False, in some way –

A poser?

Now, a few things.

First, this reader knows I’m writing this at the blog, though I did respond to her via email, too.

Second, I’m in no way a Trained Brainologist, and I should barely be trusted to give advice on tying shoelaces or boiling water for ramen noodles, much less on such tricky issues as managing depression or other maladies of the mind and body.

Third, I’ve answered the question before of what makes a “real writer,” illustrated by this handy-dandy zero-fuckery flow-chart.

A more nuanced response may be necessary, though.

My response to the reader was shorter than this post, but I thought I’d jump in here and talk about it because this feels like a discussion that everybody could get in on, given that creative people are given over to many flavors of emotional turbulence.

So, here’s the thing.

I get headaches.

These are not supernatural headaches.

They’re not migraines.

They’re normal, average, everyday headaches.

I do not get them often, but I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck (and, recently, my jaw, which is totally not awesome-feeling), and as a result? Headaches.

On the days in which I have headaches, I find it dastardly difficult to write. Writing becomes an act of pulling crocodile teeth with a pair of blood-slick pliers. It’s hard. Just having a little tiny itty-bitty jerkwad of a headache makes writing significantly more difficult.

And so, it is safe to assume that anything larger than a headache — any disease at all, any pain that is physical or emotional — would seriously hamper your ability to put words on paper. Migraines. Depression. Grief. Addiction. Cancer. Carpal tunnel. Christ, a goddamn cavity could derail your writing train into the hoary canyon of zeroed productivity.

I like to think a headache stopping me from writing on a given day wouldn’t change who I am.

And it shouldn’t change who you are, either. No matter the malady.

You are who you are. You do what you do.

I think we should worry less about what constitutes a ‘real’ writer, which is a thing for other people to worry about. Let them shit their pants over it. The worry over your identity as a writer is only going to frustrate you further. It’s why I always say that approaching depression as if it’s just writer’s block is only going to turn up the volume on all the lies that depression already tries to tell you. It’s only going to make recovery — for whatever your illness — exponentially harder. Sometimes, we do have to push ourselves. We have to do things that we feel are difficult, or scary, or frustrating. But you also have to know that pushing too hard can make you break. And sometimes you have to let yourself heal before you strain, sprain, and snap.

A practical solution is to, if you still want to write but find it difficult, switch gears. Write anything. It doesn’t have to be something to sell. Write a journal. A blog. A comic book. A poem. A random agglomeration of ideas. Write 350 words. Or 100 words. Or shit, ten words. Do what you can, when you can. And don’t sweat what other people think. Don’t sweat labels. Some people want the label. But the label doesn’t matter. It’s just a word. What matters is you taking care of yourself. What matters is you trying to find the way through the darkness and to the light. What matters is you writing when you can, not when everyone else says you have to.

113 comments

  • I really appreciate your words and point of view on this subject. I have a chronic disease that is disabling most days. On my worse days, I can’t write so it always takes me longer than I would like to finish my novels. It’s frustrating but writing (when I can do it) has saved me from the depression that comes with feeling terrible most of the time. I think we try to hard to distinguish between “real” writers and everyone else. It shows the insecurities that we have as artists.

  • Every single day, taking care of my depression has to be the first thing on my to-do list. If I want to meet any of my writing goals, there is no other way. It means taking the time to go running in the morning, keeping to my activity schedule, and sometimes writing a stream-of-consciousness for a bit before I can manage anything else. It took me years to learn this.

    “Do what you can, when you can,” is something I tell myself at least several times a week. It’s good advice, and a helluva lot better than the all-or-nothing mentality that I used to fall into. But there are so many things I want to write. Doing what I can, when I can, chipping away at these projects piece by tiny piece, grows frustrating. It can take weeks to build momentum, and a single depressive episode can kill it.

    • Same here. Like, EXACTLY the same. Have to take care of mental stability first, or I won’t be able to do anything else… Like putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others. It is so frustrating.

  • Wonderful as usual, Chuck. Depression is one of those things I don’t think writers can write too much about. It affects so many of us, and society in general doesn’t like to talk about this kind of illness. Kudos for this post.

  • I have chronic pain and sometimes get depression as a result. I also have no dental care for the past 20 years and there are a host of holes in my teeth that hurt almost daily.

    But I write. I push on because I have stories inside me and they must come out. I’m a writer because I write. I NEED to write. Pain be damned. If a story needs to come out then no matter how badly my muscles are spasming or how my teeth are throbbing, I’m going to be at least scribbling on a piece of paper a basic idea of what I want to write when I’m more ‘with it.’

    Of course now I’m drowning in these notes and outlines from so many brainfog days that I’ll probably never catch up. Oh well! Onward, writer!

  • This post made me cry, Chuck. This year has been such a struggle, and I feel like this post spoke directly to me. I can’t explain how much I appreciate you putting this out there.

  • Nice. I don’t have depression but get depressed sometimes. Let’s face, life ain’t for sissies. But we all have our sissie days. I think if you’re writing and that is your goal and you’re getting there, whether it’s ten words at a time or ten thousand words at a time, then yeah, you’re a writer. No illness or condition should be able to tell you that you’re not a writer.

    I hope your reader is feeling better. Prayers to her and a couple of atta girls too.

  • For me, your second to last sentence said it all. I got tired of feeding my brain drugs and decided to try a SADD light. I found it not only helped with depression, but chilled my anxiety as well. But if you decide to try it, get a really good one, not some cheap crap. Read up on it first. And kudos, Chuck, for never making your readers feel inferior. You have a wonderful “we are all in this shit together” tone, and a great sense of humor. Thanks for all you do.

    • SAD is awful. I used to live in northern Finland and even though it’s wonderful and beautiful and probably where magic comes from, I just don’t think human beings were ever meant to go for entire days without seeing the sun.

  • Thanks to the girl who inspired you to address the chemical cluster fuck aptly named depression. I haven’t been able to write for almost six months, until a few days ago.

    I started a muse journal and the words are spewing out daily. No, it won’t sell, like unreadable for most, and yes a shitload of drivel.

    It works. Write anything, no matter what.

    Thanks for the great post and I am rooting for the girl who inspired you to share.

    Go girl!

  • Nice post, nice response.

    Now, if you could turn your mind to how to get over ‘imposter syndrome’, I would really appreciate it. Im *this* (indicates small distance between thumb & forefinger) close to just adopting it as a lifestyle, and starting to wear the skin of people I consider are actually good at things.

    Cheers
    KT

  • I think I love you. :)

    I suffer from depression (diagnosed in1991) and fibromyalgia and arthritis. Mental and physical pain up the freakin’ wazoo. Oh, and the most fun? I can take no medications for any of these conditions for various reasons. So i have to grind it out. Fun.

    On good days, I might write 1,500 – 2,000 words. On a bad one, if I come up with a dozen, I celebrate.

    Best of luck to the reader who inspired this blog post — and to the rest of us who flail around doing the danged best we can.

  • I’m blessed to not really suffer from depression on a regular basis, but I haven’t always handled stress well. I get anxious and I try to plan it all out in advance, and it just means my head goes in circles of all the possible routes the situation can take.

    Writing used to be the hole I escaped into, but sometimes the stress can even penetrate that. Right now, there’s a very good chance my husband won’t have a job in a few days, due to mind-numbingly stupid things at his job that’s not his fault. I stay at home with our toddler. We just moved to a foreign country a year ago for said job. To lose his good job, to wipe out our merge savings to move back home, to have to start all the way at the bottom again, when I’m slow close to getting my writing out there, would be hard. Frustrating. Lots of other adjectives.

    Times like this, I can’t concentrate on anything. It’s counter productive, but my head feels like it’s filled with bees, and nothing settles me for long. Until we know what’s going to happen, until I can start planning that next step, I have to force myself to not constantly worry about what might happen. I was feeling guilty today that my daily word count has taken a hit this week that stuff has happened, especially since I know in the very near future my already small amount of time to write might evaporate. I thought a real writer, a profession, would be able to keep writing despite stress. It’s a writer’s bread and butter, right?

    Yeah, no. Thanks for the post. I’m doing a writing time, at least fifteen minutes. It’s less stressful than trying to count words and I usually write more than 350 words anyway. Sometimes fifteen minutes, or twenty, seems less daunting than a word count.

  • I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – it sucks but I am improving and will likely resume “normal” life eventually. I went from being someone who considered writing to be like breathing, just something I did that was part of being alive… to not being able to. I used to be all “writers just write, you know” and then I literally couldn’t – couldn’t make ideas come out of this new brain fog and put them lucidly down on – now I get a paragraph max, and it can take an hour (but you can format it to make it look longer!). And it makes you question who you are, whether this means you are alive now because it doesn’t feel like any kind of alive as you recognise it?

    So I made a plan with myself. Write what I can when I can (don’t make myself too tired, priority is health). Make observations, take notes, create more efficient systems around my writing, find and subscribe to other peoples blogs on writing even if I can’t read them at the moment… Make little achievable goals. I might not be able to maintain my old habits/routines/outputs but I could come out of this a better writer with more resources. Step one – Sub to terribleminds.com :)

    Maybe I can turn this into a gift? I know I will never take writing for granted again.

  • Writing is a solitary endeavor; and so every person who is determined to write must work out their own individual habit to bring their muse from out of the depths of their psyche, no matter how fractured that might be. The important thing to know is at some point it will be figured out. It may take some time before the perfect way is found, but be assured there is a way.

  • Love the bit: “write ten words”.
    When in the throes of depression I would dread waking up, because my mind would be instantly full of horrible circular thoughts about the day ahead. This would make me want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed. A psychologist told me: ok, so get up in the morning instead and go for a walk (while you’re having the thoughts). Or have a shower. Or sit outside.
    What he meant was: do ANY thing (no matter how small) to physically change the pattern that is causing so much distress. You cannot do the things you might normally do, when you are depressed. But you can do some things.
    Writing ten words is still writing.

  • The previous post about writer depression is a real thing, too. Situational depression is different from general depression, but it exists, and it certainly zaps motivation.

    That being said, I myself suffer from anxiety, both general and social, I’ve had major depressive disorder in the past, with it rearing it’s ugly head a little lately, I’ve got cubital tunnel in both arms, seasonal cluster headaches, lower back problems, delayed sleep-phase syndrome (never officially diagnosed. Sleep studies are stupid-expensive), and an exhausting job that is awful. I’m kind-of a mess.

    There are days when I don’t write. But not many that I’m not at least thinking about it. I’d like to do it more, but I don’t beat myself up for not always ‘feeling’ like it.

    But you just have to do what you can, when you can. Find that moment when you actually feel like dragging yourself to your office chair and make the most out of it as you can. If you want to write, write. There is no bigger motivation then desire.

    Don’t get caught up in anything people tell you that you can’t do. Don’t get caught up in whatever your diagnosis might be and the limitations placed on you by it. You can fight through it. Fight against it. And doing something that you love is a great way to do it. Be strong, and don’t let it win.

  • Chuck,

    I am not a writer… Just yet! Children’s literature has brought me and my family (I have one of those little two-year old tornados runnin around too) so much happiness. I think of how awesome it was to come back from lunch in the fourth grade and listen to Mrs. Dolfi read Charlotte’s Web. The written word is a beautiful thing!
    Thank you for being a pastor to the pen monkey, a virtual minister to masters and minstrels of word magic, and a teacher to those who toil over the page. This type of community is rare. I look forward to your emails. They keep hope alive! Your encouragement often translates into other needed areas… Thank you!!

  • I have bipolar disorder, and I am also a writer. I find the two things are oddly interlinked. Several years ago when I was going through a prolonged period of very bad depression I actually turned to writing as a means of coping with it.
    Now, I do not mean to diminish the issue at hand by saying depression doesn’t stop a person writing but rather fuels it, I am merely pointing out that–in my case–that has proven to be the case on SOME occasions. On others I find, much like the person who raised this question, that I can’t concentrate at all. That is not only true of my writing however, it’s true of everything in my life, and I think this person would probably find, if they thought about it, that the times they are struggling to concentrate on writing, are times in which they find it difficult to concentrate IN GENERAL. This is one of many reasons depression is so exhausting–you need things to keep you occupied and stop you from dwelling on it, but you can’t concentrate on any one thing for more than a few moments at a time. I’m unsure if this is as true for people with straight depression rather than bipolar disorder (periods of depression and mania), but it is certainly true for me.
    One thing I do note though is that you say she has no problem with ideas at these times, it’s just the actual writing. In some ways I think the ideas that go into writing can be more important than the writing itself. Things can be drafted and redrafted and edited to within an inch of their lives, but the fundamental idea behind a story needs to be strong enough to carry the story through to the end. If you’re depressed, and finding it difficult to concentrate on actual writing, but still find yourself thinking ‘that’s an idea for a story…’ I’m not sure how you can worry that the fact you are temporarily struggling to write somehow negates your writerly credentials.
    Everyone, for various reasons, will always have something–physical or mental–that will get in the way of their writing and delay it. That doesn’t mean they stop being a writer, or that they are not as good a writer because there are times when they find the can’t write. The example that springs to mind is Marian Keyes, who famously struggles with depression, and has in fact written about it as a theme in several of her books, but who on more than one occasion has had serious delays in the release of a title because she has had to ‘pause’ her actual writing while she deals with the depression that is taking over her life. Terry Pratchett, another fine example, has a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s and will, at some stage, find himself unable to write. That won’t negate the extremely successful writing career he has had, or stop him from being a writer, he will simply be a write who–due to medical reasons–no longer writes.
    Depression is a beast, it really is, it’s a horrible thing to endure. Like most horrible things in life however, for a writer, it can stop simply being an awful thing that had to be/has to be endured, and become the inspiration behind something wonderful. The way I think and feel when both depressed and manic has become the basis for a lot of my writing–my novels in particular–because they are such powerful emotions to feel. It’s the kind of stuff that makes for good books. The majority of good writing is not founded on tales of endless happiness and joy, it’s founded on adversity, strife, and above all PAIN.
    So if you have a pain–any kind of pain–that can at times keep you from your writing, make sure you use that pain as soon as you are able to write to infuse your writing with real emotions x

  • Thank you for this. As someone who has battled depression for years, the hardest part can be just getting started, It’s too easy to think “why bother, no one will care anyway?” You give me the compassionate kick in the pants I sometimes need. So, again Chuck, thank you for that.

  • It’s great to hear these kinds of things, because I was there — and am just getting out of there. My depression was a pretty shitty job that took ALL my energy — creative, happy, every type of energy. I would get home and be SO exhausted (mentally, physically) that I would watch TV like a zombie (because that was all I had energy to do) and when I tried to write, I would do a piss poor job at it and get down maybe a hundred words. Most of it idea sketches or outlines or little snippets of stuff that I would then wonder, “What do I do with this now?” When my health started to deteriorate (I always thought the idea of stress killing you was an exaggeration, but that job actually started killing me from stress) and I left the shitty job for (thus far) a much better one, my world started opening up again.

    In my darker moments — and there were many, since I was stressed and tired and unhappy — I would think I was a failure because I couldn’t write. But when I managed to shut up that Inner Critic, I saw that I WAS writing. I was writing outlines, and snippets of fiction, and journal entries. And I felt proud that I kept going, even in this small capacity.

    (The one sucky thing is that I feel like I let my writing muscle atrophy. Just before I took that shitty job, I was having the most creative time of my life, writing-wise, and now I can’t seem to figure out how to get back to that level. It’s like starting at the beginning all over again and I’m thinking, “I used to write thousands of words in a day, now I struggle to write 1,000.” It’s like having to learn to jog again when you used to do marathons. But I keep telling myself, “One day at a time, one word at a time.”)

    So thanks for your insight, and thanks for pointing out what really needs to be pointed out. Let other people worry about what makes a writer, cuz at the end of the day, the writers have just got to write.

  • First, this post had me in tears.

    Okay, I had a stroke the DAY my very first novel was published 4.5 years ago. Not only do I have cognitive issues, I developed severe anxiety, health symptoms no doc can explain (neither can they tell me why I had a stroke)…on top of depression which I had fought most of my life. I just last month finished my second book. It’s taken me this long to get to a place where I could. I tried so many times to write again. Pushing myself too early after the stroke, then again later, the words were still all jumbled. I had to relearn how to type and forget even trying to handwrite. That’s worse than typing. (still is)

    I quit so many times. Saying, I just can’t do it anymore. I don’t have it. But as most of you know, once a writer, always a writer. I’m my happiest when I write. When I’ve written a paragraph-plotted-developed a character- there is nothing that can compare to that. And only writers understand that happiness.

    Just a few months ago, did I realize this.

    So when my illness hits me so hard I can’t even talk and muscles spasms make it impossible for me to walk…I plot stories in my head. It’s my escape from the pain.

    Love and happy reading/writing!

  • Thanks for this, Chuck. I have suffered through many depressive episodes, and I have found when I can’t write anywhere or anything else, I can write in my journal, and it works.

  • Awesome post and some very inspiring comments. Thank you to all. In the past 10 years I have suffered from depression (due to lengthy unemployment) and stress (due to getting a job and working with pig of a colleague who made life miserable) so I sympathize with you all.

    Thanks again Chuck. Just a thought, the pain you experience in your jaw may be related to your sitting position when you work. I suffered a spinal injury many years ago and when I was going through treatment my jaw function was regularly checked.

  • I have had depression on and off since high school. Nowadays, I my depressed brain tricks me into believing my lack of success is causing my depression, but I felt the same way at 16, and I did really well in high school.

    The last few days, I’ve had a hard time working. My motivation is gone. I can’t see a future for myself or my writing. I feel like my friends, family, BF would all be better off without me. I know I’ll feel better if I work out, but I can’t bring myself to be alone with my thoughts for so long.

    So, thanks Chuck, I really need the encouragement at the moment.

    (And try yoga for the tension headaches. It used to get those too).

  • I think the biggest hurdle for most writers need to overcome is the ability to call yourself a writer. It is unfortunate that often the career comes with no end of mental problems, some of which I suffer from. But, at the end of the day if you can step back from a full page and take time to acknowledge your craft then you get a sense of appreciation of yourself.
    Remember even in the darkest times it can get better!

  • Wow, this is a great post and it has inspired some great comments as well. Chuck, I, too, love what you’ve said and I love that there are a ton of other people who share similar experiences with the person who emailed you. We really are all in this together, eh?

    I have my own struggles that feel silly and funny to talk about and I’ve been fighting a mad case of writer’s block for a year, so I’ve really been struggling with the ‘what is a real writer’ question. Your post soothes some of my angst in this regard. Honestly, who gives a f*ck if someone publishes/sells any of their writing. Is THAT what makes a person a real writer?

    That’s the stick I’ve been measuring myself with, and man, that stick has been beating me senseless. Lately, people have been telling me ‘writers write.’ I’ve found the aphoism it trite and extremely insulting, thinking it was an accusation because I HAVEN’T been writing. But maybe they’ve just been trying to tell me to let go of the measuring stick, stop caring about publishing, stop caring about selling, stop caring about grammar etc, and just write.

    I used to write first lines in my head and then put them to paper later. I used to wake up in the middle of the night from a dream scene and scratch it out and build a story from it later. I used to write simply because I found joy in it, because I felt compelled to write, because I began to feel sick and bat-shit-crazy if I didn’t write. I used to love writing before I turned it into an expectation and an obligation and a measurement of my worth and my identity.

    So my answer to the question ‘what is a real writer?’ is for me to take a deep breath, sit on my deck, watch the clouds pass over the lake against the green-treed hills and whisper to myself ‘writers write.’ It’s as simple as that, and hell, who’s to say you need a pen and paper or a keyboard to write?

    Write with your mind. Write with your heart, write with your smile and your laugh, with your love for your cherished ones. Write with your actions and your spirit and your voice and your cells and your entire being. Write by being an expression of the creativity that wells up in your soul and yearns to be free. And like others have said, to hell with judging whether or not your writing is ‘real’.

    If it comes from your heart and soul, how much more real could it possibly be?

  • Thanks for the wise words, touched a chord for me. I’m going through some work stuff right now that is not going to end well.

    I’m in the middle of writing a couple of books and I want to write and need to write as it will now be my main income. But there’s too much negativity going on and much as I love writing I can’t get my head into gear to work on writing that matters, like I know I won’t get it right. I guess my confidence is down. So write something is great advice and I’d really like to say thanks for the Flash Fiction Friday prompts it’s felt great to work on these with the pressure off.

  • August 29, 2014 at 5:52 AM // Reply

    This is a brilliant post & it feels like it came at just the right time for what’s going on in my head, too. I’ve been unable to write due to a heavy workload with lots of very long, exhausting days and that has helped in a sort of avalanche of bad feelings that have just snowballed and snowballed into this sort of white depressing haze. Courtesy of that, I’ve felt completely unable to keep going with my novel despite the ideas and the planning and the desperation to finish. Almost everything is lacklustre and hiding behind the curtains or under my duvet feels like a much better plan than doing anything at all.

    So thank you for this post, both writer and reader. I appreciate it and it seems so do many more.

  • Thanks to Chuck for pointing out that labels are limiting, and to the brave writers sharing their battle stories.
    People ask me how I balance writing and my family and my medical career, but I think balancing an illness would be harder physically and mentally. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • Writing saved me from the worst of my depression. The black cloud had won, I was a single act away from literally taking a leap from the top of a nine-story parking garage when a story came into my head. Rather than taking that step, I started writing. The effort at the keyboard pushed the black cloud away long enough to allow me to come to terms with my depression and seek help.

    I’m on Sertraline now and much more functional and happy. At times I wonder if the anti-depressant has taken away the ability to plumb my emotional Netherworld all the way to the bottom, but I’d much rather spend my days pondering that than my family asking why I didn’t seek help.

    Dealing with depression is hard, but it’s a medical condition-no more, no less-and needs to be viewed by society as such. Some of my siblings take medication for high cholesterol, but nobody calls them weak. It’s the same for me. I take medication for depression. If someone wants to call me weak, go right ahead. It will give me the opportunity to correct them.

  • Try getting a massage at least once a week to loosen up that tension a bit.
    It will help alleviate the onset of those headaches and work wonders for your creativity.

  • I have been drugged out drugged up and words are the only balm for my psychic axe wound. Writing something down is an adhesive to the now–I cannot be lured into agonizing internal monologues about looming apocalypse or the fallout of my million wretched choices. If your brain wants to take you on the walk of deconstructive criticism, keep all thinking anchored in the truth of “right this minute” and write about your salt shaker, or your goldfish or your dick, but stay present. It will force you to really see a thing and as you experience whatever humble, simple object you focus on, life may even begin to seem slightly less scorched. It is natural to be afraid, but walk away from the edge, reclaim your place here and remember to go as slow as you can, not as fast as you can’t.

  • I have ended up on your blog several times for various reasons (usually random Google searches for various writing tips) and it happened again today! After I read what I had searched out, I clicked on the main blog page and found this post.

    I have fought with depression sense puberty (looooong time ago) and began writing poetry about the same time. So for me, depression and writing have gone hand in hand. Yet I agree with the problem of it (and other debilitating diseases like, say, procrastination) getting in the way of writing. I really like how you said, “it shouldn’t change who you are.” Even if you don’t get your set words down, you’re still a writer, still YOU.

    I’ve enjoyed your blog so much lately I decided to to tell my very small blog world about it. (I think I have two readers… one might be my mom.) Hope you don’t mind.

    http://www.miarich.com/?p=694

    ~Mia

  • You’re such a good man Chuck. You curse and make us laugh with your crazy wordery but inside you are a kind hearted soul. What a sweet and beautiful post.

  • Thank you for this. When so much of your identity comes from being a writer, not being able to write feels like the end of your world. But you wouldn’t expect someone to run on broken legs, so why you should expect yourself to write well on an injured brain, I don’t know.

  • Everywhere I turn I hear or read “If you don’t write every day, you’re not a writer”, it only breeds pressure and self-doubt. “I didn’t write today, what if I’m not a writer? I’m a hack!”

    It’s reassuring that an actual published writer allows leeway, and encourages writers to do as fits them best.

    This post and the Writers Flow Chart are the two things that made me buy your writing books. I ope to learn a lot.

  • Because of my disability, I am often very sad. I’ve been depressed in my life and took me years to overcome it. You could probably say I’m depressed now, and who would blame me, but I still work hard to not be depressed. Some days I am successful and can push the feelings aside, and other days, I can’t do anything but stare into darkness.

  • A very long time ago, when I was diagnosed as bipolar, I gave in on my writing. It was a stupid thing to do in many ways, because instead of finding comfort in the voices I hear not actually being attached (much) to my mental health status, I shunned them, for fear I’d be diagnosed as Schizophrenic and locked up. This was nearly 15 years ago now, in the UK. My doctors didn’t care that my meds blunted my drive to do anything I loved, all they cared about was “control”. I lived in that haze for several years, with a newborn baby, and a partner that thought writing was for idiots and teased me because I hadn’t written a bestseller after five minutes of being on the PC. Because I shared it with him, my life was pretty much curtailed (though, I had a livejournal, he never read it).
    Nanowrimo basically saved my life – I met a lot of other writers, some like me and bipolar, with depression, schizophrenic… others who basically didn’t care that I was a bit weird, just that I was happy to help them. It’s continued for the last 12 years too.
    Through Nanowrimo, I met my partner, I discovered that I have a genuine talent for words in all ways (and I know you’ve written about that before – that’s my 20 role, making up for the fumble that is my mental health, my physical health and now, my fertility issues) and that better than that, I had the power and the obligation to help others discover that tiny flame in their soul and fan the ass off it. Three years with my partner, and I was capable of leaving the house *ALONE* without my children for the first time, and then, capable of going to University. I have a degree in creative writing. I’m still bipolar. I still hear voices, and some of them aren’t my stories. I’m good with what I do.
    I’m now off to share the crap out of this post and link it from my own mental health website.

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