Writing & Depression

When I was too young to understand what it was, I went through a brief period of depression. I had no coping tools, not a self-help book, not a therapist, not a friend or lover I felt I could confide in. And of course back then in the stone age there was no Internet. I’ve had occasional bouts with depression, not clinical, but situational, since then.

Back then, I did have an important insight. I imagined myself hanging a huge banner in my living room saying “Do Something.” That was fairly profound for me, because it still holds true. Sitting in a depression without taking action simply keeps me depressed. When that feeling comes on, I find it difficult to write anyway, so why deliberately isolate myself as I have been doing all winter for 5 or even 10 days at a time?

Writing. I do it for the writing. After intense periods of work and play, where writing time is scarce, I adore a blank calendar. But I need to stay aware of the balance between writing time and people time. Too much isolation inevitably leads me into a mild sort of depression that also takes away my willingness to write. Maybe I need a new banner: “Pick Up Your Pen.” or “Write Something STAT.”

I think I’ll be okay for awhile, because my schedule, after being quite light all winter, is speeding up and I don’t think I have 5 empty days (forget 10!) in a row until July. I view this increased activity with apprehension. What if my writing suffers? But the truth is, I will probably write more, and with a lighter heart, too.

My advice to any other writer who may be going through something similar is to make a lunch or dinner or movie date. Because for the last two days I’ve had social things with friends, and this morning I wrote 6 pages without a problem.


  1. True words, Cindy. I also find it helps to connect with non-writing friends as well as buddies in my various writing groups. Non-writing friends give me great ideas, and I often ask them: “What types of essays and articles would you like to read now?” I get lovely ideas, as well as encouragement. Thanks for the reminder, CIndy


  2. I find I don’t know what I think until I’ve read what I’ve written. It’s weird. And I know I don’t write nearly as much as I used to or as much as I should. Hopefully this will change.


  3. Cindy, Good point on the non-writing friends. Most of my long-time pals are not writers. I never bring up the subject. It doesn’t even enter my mind unless someone asks. I find this a relief–that I don’t think about writing when I’m with them. Because almost all the other time I’m awake I’m thinking about it. Does that last paragraph in the essay work? Should I send this to an editor or self-publish? Is it ready? And on and on…


  4. I like the idea of a banner and often wish I had a blinking neon sign to point me in the right direction. Balance is key. I will say that now I’m working outside the home again that it was easier to make connections when I was home all the time than it is to find time for projects at home now. I am re-thinking the whole “I need a full time job to feel fulfilled” thing I’ve been feeling for years. Part-time work would be perfect.


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