Depression and the Creative Process

Dear depression: stop fucking with my writing. And with everything else in my life, come to think of it. I really don’t have time for your fuckery, nor the desire to deal with it. I’m a very busy woman, and I think it’d be best for both of us if you would leave me the hell alone. Lose my number. Never darken my door again. But I think we all know that isn’t an actual thing. Wouldn’t it be dreamy if that was possible, though? To just banish it at will. But it isn’t the case. That’ll never happen. So we have to know how to deal with it when it inevitably does. We have to have a plan to arm ourselves with. Whether we’re going to want to or not.

It seems as if creatives are depressed more often. Or perhaps we’re more apt to be more sensitive to it. I don’t have statistics or anything to back that up. Under a Trump Administration, what good are facts anyway? While some people would argue that depression is a choice, others would tell said people to fuck off. I happen to be a part of the latter. If depression, or any other mental disorder, were a choice, do you really think I’d go months straight crying myself to sleep? Wanting to just go to sleep and have it all be over, followed by the terror that this could be true. How in the hell is it possible to make yourself focus on anything else? It is, but it isn’t. I’m not going to blow sunshine up your ass and tell you writing has cured my depression. Because it hasn’t. But it’s a start. And a hell of a good one.

While I know I’m hardly alone on this front, I think it’s important to talk about. Depression does happen. And when it does, you have to know how to trick yourself into getting things done when you don’t feel like it. Becuase it’s important to know how you work.My depression was probably at its worst when I was about sixteen. Not long after a suicide attempt thwarted by someone I love very much. I hid it well, but it was there all the same. During this time, after my second book and before my twelfth, I still managed to get a hell of a lot done. But for all I know, that was the drugs. Or maybe being in love with a rather specific bastard/muse hybrid. But I think it was also my regiment. I did very little planning in advance on some and far too much on most of them. The better work from that time wasn’t planned, with few exceptions. But when it was planned, it sure to shit got done.Maybe even more so than I did when I was writing like a madwoman. God, how I love to fast draft. But fast drafting isn’t a thing when you’re depressed. Drafting at all seems like a miracle.

I sorted out how many chapters I had. How long the scenes were going to be. And like the borderline obsessive-compulsive that I am, I made a fucking chart. I’m a compulsive chart maker from way back. When I got a certain number of words into a scene or chapter, I got to fill in a square on the chart. And it made me happy as fuck because I was getting somewhere. Even if the end result was shit, and it almost always was, I was doing something. And that’s a comforting thought to someone who wants to stay in bed all day with their head under a pillow so no one can see them crying. I’ve since abandoned the methodology of the chart, though I still use a chart when I edit, as well as when I plot. I’ll be writing a post on that shortly. 

Sometimes less, often more, what you need when you’re depressed is something to connect to. Something for direction. It doesn’t make the darkness go away. But it acts as a torch. Even when you’re not all that sure you want one. Maybe especially then. I don’t pretend to be an expert on all things mental health related. Nor do I consider myself an expert on writing. But as I’ve had a decade or so of experience with both, I have learned some things. Sometimes the friend you need doesn’t have to be a person. More often than not, it’s a thing, often not entirely concrete. Like your art. Like your writing. Like you. And I like to think that maybe that’s enough.

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