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Writing & Depression -- by Bogna Maslanka

For the thrid year in a row I atempted NaNoWriMo. I waited up until midnight on the first night and I ended up knocking out 2,271 words. For a first day that is fantastic. I should be incredibly proud of myself, but I'm not. I'm not angry at myself nor am I frustrated with my lack progress, I'm just meh (I asked several of my online writing buddies for a legitimate word for the feeling "meh" and they came up with "lethargic" and "indifferent"). This is how depression effects me. It makes me feel bland, unmotivated and unworthy.  It's a very odd feeling to have about a hobby that you love dearly.

Depression sucks the life out of every simple task and makes things seem like advanced physics. I'm a biochemist by trade and there is little more that I loathe more than physics. Depression sucks and so does physics but depression sucks more than physics. I really wish that saying "Say strong!" or "You can beat this!" would be enough to get my fellow depressed writers to kick depression in the face. But we all know that depression doesn't work that way. I have a couple different ways that I combat my depression related procrastination. As simple as these tips are, it is easy to forgot the basics when you're in a depression brain fog.

1. Remind Yourself That Every Word Counts
Even if I only write ten words or several tweets to Mac (Head Honcho of Absolute Write) at least I've done something towards publication. I got my name out there by tweeting Mac and I wrote ten more words on a story that could be my break-out piece.You never know what one tweet or ten words will do.

2. Avoid Writing in Bed
My depression keeps me in bed. Bed is nice and warm and there are possibly fuzzy cats in it. But if I don't get my butt out of bed, I'm never going to get anything done. I've been amazed at how much more I can accomplish when I force myself to walk to four feet from my bed to my desk. Also that fuzzy meow-meow probably has a bitey end or at least mine does (see photo for reference).

3. Ask for Help from Fellow Writers
It is never a bad idea to ask for help or advice from a fellow writer. Most writers love to gush about what they write, how they write and how they battle the demons of procrastination. I have found chat rooms and Twitter to be my safe havens. They distract me just enough to forget about my depression, but don't distract me to the point that I don't do any writing. Plus you never have to say that your writing troubles are related to depression.

Chit chat with me on Twitter @BEMaslanka or on my personal blog

Posted by Bogna Maslanka 2 Dec 2012 at 04:36
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Responses to this blog

Sheridan 2 Dec 2012 at 15:21  
Hi Bogna. Thanks for the perspective and tips.
Ejm 2 Dec 2012 at 21:35  
I agree with the sentiment about asking for help, particularly from other writers. That said if we are talking about deep seeded clinical depression I'd also like to express that one should seek professional help. These are great tips for getting through day to day and beating everyday stress but if anyone is severely depressed you may lose more than the motivation to write. Get help, there is no shame. Learn from the experience and let it empower you and your writing.

Thanks for the post.
Napalm 3 Dec 2012 at 10:15  
Very, very brave of you, thanks for sharing!

I suffer from depression, too (and I'm a Biochemist, so we're not a million miles apart!) and I have done all my life. It was only diagnosed just over a year ago, though. Before then, I'd convinced myself that I was simply a useless person.

It's a terrible affliction. One of my triggers is Winter and, as I always do at this time of year, I'm finding simply doing the most basic things in life quite difficult. Like you, the thought of curling up between the sheets is close to overwhelming. I sense yet another increase in my medication soon. Ho-hum.

"Normally", every other week I sit in front of my PC and enjoy writing immensly. I know that tonight, though, when I sit down to write as per my schedule (I need a schedule to stay motivated) I will loathe every word I type. I just have to plod on, keeping in mind that when the depression clears, it WILL seem a whole lot better.

Thanks again.

Hecksithia 6 Dec 2012 at 18:41  
I agree with your tips, but like you said, when in the stranglehold of depression it is hard to remember them. I can sit in bed for hours staring at the computer wanting to write, but its like I have sleep paralysis no matter how much I want to get up, I can't move. I can't make myself move. I've tried to find people who are writers who will write with me, because having someone to meet with at a library helps, but the clubs and societies in my area are either dead or so big that it's hard to get in and actually feel like they think you are a human being.

Could you possibly share how you make yourself act on these beliefs? I wish I could make myself.
Mrsgldnegg 8 Dec 2012 at 06:43  
Thank you for posting this. You are indeed brave.
Depression turns even pleasurable activities into something like running with cement shoes on. Or like Superman trying to fly out of a room full of kryptonite. Anyone who tells you to "just get over it" has no idea. There are some things that help some people some of the time, but hearing happy, chipper voices make unsolicited suggestions is. the. worst.

16 Dec 2012 at 07:38  
Hi. I'm new to CC (this post is the reason I joined). I've been depressed for...ever, and I honestly thought I was alone. I've been to writing clubs and meetings in person and all the members I ever met were...bubbly and excited and just AMAZING! And so I thought "that's how a writer is supposed to be. Forget what they say, writers are happy and that's all there is too it." I convinced myself that since I couldn't be happy, I couldn't be happy. Thank you, thank you more than words can say (which from a writer is a very big thing) for making me see that I am not the only writer out there with this and that I can do it. Thank you for the great tips. I will be reading your blog every time you post now. Thank you.
Creative 27 Dec 2012 at 04:05  
Wow, I read your blog on depression and writing. You wrote about me!! I thought I was the only one who stayed in bed and tackled writing via my laptop. And I too, have my furry friend, Lola who is constantly by my side.

One thing that I struggle with; how can I write happy, normal characters when I'm depressed? In other words I don't know what a happy person is like. I want to write romance but I'm afraid it will turn out more like Stephen King. Any suggestions??

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