She Who Writes

Black cloud subject this rainy summer day. What does depression have to do with writing? It can stop you. It stopped me. I haven’t felt like writing in weeks. The WIP paralyzed. Also joy. Does a writer’s depression differ from other people’s? Writers certainly have lots of writerly specific things to be depressed about: Rejection. Shrinking markets. Low pay rates. Lack of readers. Writer’s block. J.K. Rowling envy.

But unless you buy the tortured artist myth, writers are not necessarily more prone to depression than other people. Everyone has issues that can lay them low. And lately I have not been able to make my depression disappear by the usual avoidance techniques. The thing with avoidance techniques is that, eventually, if you live long enough, they backfire. Spectacularly. At least that’s been my experience.

Some of the depression-avoidance ploys that no longer work for me: Ingesting huge quantities of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and pepperoni pizza. Burying myself in books and movies. Popping various medications, prescribed and otherwise. All of these things my mind once used to escape have gradually taken their toll on my body. Beaten the shit out of it, actually.

And now it’s time to figure out how to use my mind to get my body back together. Because as it turns out, depression only gets worse when you ruin your health. Not that I was trying to…but it happened anyway as I ignored uncomfortable feelings by feasting on calzones, cake and martinis. And that was just last Thursday.

I’ve known for a while now I need to put my mental power to work for my inner self, not my outer life. For months, I have been promising myself a good stretch of six weeks or so when not working or vacationing to get body, mind, and spirit together, to clear out the toxic stuff, to feel great again, to regain health and energy. I’m using two books to guide me: Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston and The Unmistakable Touch of Grace by Cheryl Richardson.

And good news! Writing is actually a natural, non-fattening, not reflux-causing, cure for what ails me. I know as I go through my cleanse, cutting out the toxins, adding in more movement and meditation, that morning pages are as important as the other stuff. What’s different now is that I understand writing alone can’t save me. I need to pay attention to the whole person here, not just she who writes.  


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  1. You bring up some very good points, and you’re right on about the mind-body-spirit link. When you feel better, you perform better in all aspects of living. But I’ve come to believe that the writing life is a series of highs and lows. You get an acceptance and a big check one day and you feel like you’ve hit your stride. But shortly after that, you might get a series of rejections — or no answers to your queries. I call it the freelance writer roller coaster. The very nature of the business is sort of manic … it’s hard not to be depressed sometimes.


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