Friday, September 25, 2009

The Writer’s Blues

There has been some talk in the group lately about depression. Since I also do have some problems with depression from time to time (depression also runs in my family) and, as many artists and writers tend to suffer from depression, especially in the winter months, I thought it would be a good topic to address. I found a good article that deals with that subject, How to Chase away the Writer's Blues by Christy Barritt.

Seasons of discouragement come and go for every author. But sometimes when it hits, it hits hard. Numerous authors have walked — or attempted to walk — away from writing as self doubt begins to plague them, burying itself in their self-confidence and assurances. To overcome discouragement, we must first understand the reasons why it comes.
  • Comparison. All too often writers compare where they stand to where others are. A wise person once said that comparison is the enemy of contentment. Those words can’t ring more true. We must focus on our own writing journey and not that of others.
  • Feelings of inadequacy. It’s rare that I send something out and am totally satisfied with it. I often fret over each word and sentence, trying to make it perfect, only to realize it will never be perfect according to my standards. I feel inadequate, like I’m not good enough or talented enough to be a writer. It’s the nature of the beast.
  • Seasons of life. Sometimes discouragement just comes as a season in life. Perhaps several stressful situations have arisen and taken a toll on your writing. After my father passed away, writing was difficult for me. I had to step back and take time to mourn before jumping into my writing again.
  • Spiritual warfare. Often times when we follow God’s will, Satan intrudes and tries to persuade us away. We must keep our focus and remember who we write for.
  • Rejection. This is the toughest one for me. Though I know I should expect rejection, every time I receive one it still stings. I always think, "Why am I kidding myself into thinking I’m a writer? I’m a wannabe. I just need to move on and do something else." I never can though. Rejection hurts. But as a writer, rejection happens. See each rejection as a stepping stone instead of as a stumbling block.
She goes on to list several things that can help writers cope:
  • Rejections don’t mean you’re not good.
  • Know that publishing isn’t instantaneous.
  • Write and then write some more.
  • Become a sponge. (learn all you can about the craft)
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Seek God’s approval.
  • Don’t entertain negative thoughts.
  • If you can walk away from writing, then you should. (a true writer could never do this)
  • Get the opinion of someone valued and trusted.
  • Press on toward the prize.
I didn't post the entire article, so to get the whole thing, follow this link.

Some other things that have also helped me are:
  • Get plenty of water, plenty of sleep (this can be hard to do if you have insomnia, and/or get writing ideas in the middle of the night), and make sure to eat nutritious meals evenly spaced throughout the day. Especially breakfast!
  • Take your vitamins, (especially in the winter) -- I feel that the essentials are a good vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and omega3. I buy mine separately so I can control the amount of each, and I find that I need a lot higher doses than what you can get in a single multivitamin.
  • After personal experience I am very opposed to extremely low fat or no fat diets, but the kind of fat you eat is very important, and can really effect the way you feel. Feel free to ask me about that if you're interested (I'm not selling anything, don't worry, I just have a lot to say on the subject because a few very small changes in this area have really changed my quality of life for the better.)
  • Keep a clear conscience -- this means living your life according to your personal value system. The way you feel is inseparably connected to your personal beliefs and values, so if you aren't sure what those are, it is a worthwhile investment of your time to do some soul searching to find out. (Stephen Covey's 7 Habits and the 8th habit are excellent books for that.)
  • Make amends with old ghosts -- this means forgiving yourself and others who have wronged you as well as making things right with others you may have wronged. Otherwise, your mind just keeps going back to the past and interfering with the present.
  • and as always, this old saying holds true:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

No comments: