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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Depression=Writer's Block=Depression?

What comes first? Depression, leading to Writer's Block, or Writer's Block, leading to Depression?

Actually, it seems as if both scenarios are correct!

I seem to reach a point in my writing when Writer's Block hits...and it's always in the middle of the book. How can this happen? I've got my basic outline, I know what happens first and how the book will end. AND, I know what SHOULD be in the middle. But staring at the computer screen and wondering, "What do I do now?" always happens....and that can be so depressing.

My muse deserts me. I question my writing skills. I reread what I've written and itch to do endless edits. In fact, that's what I've done in the past...I leave the middle and rewrite the beginning. So...what does that accomplish? A new start for my book, but the dreaded middle will STILL appear to vex me.

Feeling depressed affects my writing ability. Here again, I question my writing skills. I start to wonder if this is what I want to do, am capable of doing. If I'm tired and feeling low because of depression, how can I write? What makes me think I can continue?

Both scenarios happen to me, and for both, I do the same thing...I back away for awhile. There's no point in trying to write, because:
1. I don't like what I write
2. Other things sneak in to distract my attention
3. Soothing my ego is needed

I admire those who follow a strict writing routine everyday and are so successful. But, I know any one type of  writing style along with coping skills isn't the same for everyone.

How do you fight depression, writer's block, both?

Photos: Flickr: Gillian, mia3mom, and kingfishpies photostreams.


Anonymous said...

I don't get blocked so much as I frequently run out of time to write. Other aspects of life invade the sanctity of my corner of Fictionland. But the result ends up being the same. Stealing time leads to writing more poorly, and then I question what I'm doing - not just in the story but in life - I mean, why not just escape with a good book instead of writing my own stories? Then I do question the writing, and although people tell me I'm good at telling the story, I wonder if they're placating (even though some are people I don't even know). It helps to know others go through the same self-doubt.

Amber Skyze said...

At times I tend to suffer from the same issues. I wish I knew of a way to overcome the depression/block. Sometimes just writing helps, but not usually.
Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. Great blog though. I can totally relate.

Tina Donahue said...

Writer's block doesn't happen to me, but depression sometimes does. After I do edits on an existing manuscript for one of my houses, I start second-guessing myself. Mind you, the edits are always light - little stuff - sentences that might not be totally clear. But that bothers me. I want it to be perfect. So I start thinking I'm not worthy because it's not. Dumb, I know, but there it is. I think all authors go through this. The only cure I know is to keep writing, keep getting better at your craft.

Sandy said...

I don't have writer's block, but I do suffer from depression, and it runs in my family.

Before I became published, I would go into a fit of depression over nearly every single rejection. I did get to a point where I didn't let bother me, but it took years.

As for writer's block, I have so many ideas in my head that I'll live long enough to write them. It's the 'how to' get the words on paper that can depress me. Word choice is very important and sometimes the right words are hard to find.

Nina Pierce said...

My block is my need to have the story be perfect right out of the starting gate. Which means I get all worked up just opening my WIP that I can't do it, which means I don't open my manuscript. Terrible cycle. I want to learn to "spew", but my muse and I haven't figured out how to do that yet. But I keep trying.

Katalina said...

This is a difficult question because writers tend to live in our minds and we are particularly vulnerable to our own imaginations.
I try to take mental breaks from work and "lighten up" or else I risk stepping in a steaming pile of writer's block.

Molly Daniels said...

Sometimes I reach a point and think 'where the hell am I going with this?' when the words refuse to come, or the characters simply leave my head. Very frustrating; in fact, I should have the entire 14 books in my AU series completed by now, except #8 refuses to cooperate.

And with other wips, I simply take a break, hoping they will come out and play again. I'm fortunate not to be on a deadline; the one time I was and this hit me, I simply ended up in panic mode at the 'do or die' stage and wrote a bunch of crap until the brain kicked into gear again. Sometimes free association with the plot helps:) All of a sudden, the characters come running back ala 'what the hell have you done to our story?'


Alicia Coleman said...

I get writer's block and then depression. I'll start off writing. Everything is great. Then, I don't know where to go with the story. When this happens, I stop trying to write. I either read a book, take a nap, or work on revising another WIP. This usually works for me.

jean hart stewart said...

I don't often get depressed, but I certainly get upset about the sagging middle. Nothing works for me but to write,, well SOMETHING! It's probably lousy and has to be redone but I can accept that. Oh yes, and taking a break and reading something steamy by someone else...

Cara Marsi said...

Sometimes I begin to hate what I wrote, then I think I'm no good and I'll never write anything worthwhile again. That leads to depression which leads to writer's block. It's a vicious cycle. I usually tell myself I should give up, and sometimes I do stop writing for a while, then I itch to write again, and the block is gone.

Janice said...

If I feel blocked, I take a walk or take a break for a few days. I also watch a romantic comedy, read or just power through the depression.

But...I have a secret way to beat the saggy middle.

Shh.... tell no one.

Here it secret.

I write the first big sex scene in the middle or a big reveal.

That's it.

Now you know my secret, go write.


Tracey H. Kitts said...

I can relate to a little bit of what everyone has said so far. I don't get writer's block though, but I have been very depressed before.

My depression, however, was related more to events in my life than to my writing. Writing has always been my therapy.

Sometimes though, I take a break right in the middle. A week or two off often gives new life to my characters and refreshes my brain. Even though I know what is supposed to happen next, sometimes a break helps me describe this event with new vigor.

My secret to curing depression: I got a puppy. I know it may sound strange. But waking up to someone every day who is so eager to see the world really put things into perspective for me. I smile and laugh more than I have since I was a kid:) My circumstances haven't changed, but I have.

p.s. I also get those moments where I think my writing is crap. lol I think everyone who takes the craft seriously does:)

Marianne Stephens said...

Wow...I'm not alone! Thanks for sharing your POVs. We all "suffer" through one or both of these, and it looks like taking a break, stepping back, helps.

Liz said...

I never stop until a story/novel is finished. I don't get writer's block but I do get "second edit" vapors, "redo and resubmit" delirium tremens, "no time to write because real life gets in the way" blues and pure unadulterated "If I have to scratch out another blog post I will kill people" hissy fits.
But frankly, any time you exercise the muscle whether it be via blog post, facebook status cleverness, Twitter post genius, or hitting that editing floor running you are building strength, losing sloppy habits and can power thru any "blockages" that come your way!

Celtic Chick said...

I read something that said creative people are more likely to get depression or bi-polar disorder. I think it has something to do with how a creative mind works. Anyway, I usually step away from a story if I am stuck and I try not to get depressed by doing mundane tasks like cleaning the house. If I keep myself busy I won't fall into depression. And my writer's block always goes away eventually.

Good luck and I hope you get back in the writing zone soon.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I get so many ideas I feel overwhelmed--the opposite of writer's block. But if I'm writing in one story and I get stuck, I listen to the character and ask, "what would this person say or how would she respond?" And that helps get the creativity flowing again. My personal life is intense and it can easily make writing tough. But even when I'm not inspired I at least pause to listen to the characters. And that usually helps. Good question.

Anonymous said...

A problem I sometimes face is when I read other writers' excerpts and I think to myself, "I'll never write as well as them or tell stories like they can" and then I follow what Tina Donahue said in an earlier comment, I go back to writing.

Rachel Firasek said...

I've never had a problem with either, because my depression feeds my writing. When I go to my dark place, I write to release it. Depression is a state of mind or a chemical inbalance, however you want to look at it, there is a solution. You have to find the thing that will even the scale and writing is that for me. Great post! Rachel Firasek

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment that mentioned creativity and depression are often linked. (or at least my therapist is like to remind me of all the historical examples of this tie... when I'm feeling down myself) I don't question my writing skills - i just don't write; or I choose to rewrite the same page (paragraph, sentence, or word) searching for perfection - for days or weeks. I get caught in cycles of never moving... forward. of course, these weeks in my dumbstruck hamster wheel (hopefully) will be followed by days on a mental autobahn; in theory it all balances out - BUT - here is the sage advice from aforementioned therapist -

it is rare that creative people have the perfect sustained work-ethic of, say, a 9 to 5 accountant. we need time to dream, to stress, decompress, and have 'Epiphanies' (if you will) -So her analogy - metaphor, i suppose, is that i , you, we, are given a daily choice - to walk across a railroad tie on the ground. easy enough, and some days we walk across it and write whatever - the days we do not write - we worry about it - we stress and our creative minds twirl "I DID NOT WRITE/ or walk across that beam on the grass today"... eventually - our mental stress has raised the bar - we no longer have to easily write - we must now walk across that very same beam, ten stories up-in-the-air. we think of falling = of failing ; not of walking or writing.
So the moral is - relax - it's still the same task - only your perspective has changed. plus, if you run across the railroad tie, way up high, look down and really feel the pressure - you might surprise yourself and write something great.

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