Writer Depression: Fact or Fiction?

A few weeks ago, I launched my second book, Petrella, the Gillian Princess. A middle-grade fairy tale aimed at children between the ages of eight to thirteen. It was supposed to be what I call my “interim” book. A filler book before my full-length, Women’s Fiction, Make it Right; Make it Matter.

I thought this book would have been a three-to-four month project with a hired illustrator, and some minor tweaks of a story that I had written back in 2012 for an anthology book, but it never made the cut. Instead, it turned out to be much, much more.

In fact, I resurrected the story, late 2014, for my daughters—a little gem for them. I began working on smoothing out the storyline. I was bored. I had just launched my debut Christian Romance, Love’s Perfect Surrender, and was doing author events, but I was itching to write again.

And so, I started rereading it; several times to myself and then to my daughters, hired a professional editor, and put together a launch team of readers. Forty-seven versions later, I completed Petrella, the Gillian Princess.

During the last three weeks before the reveal, I worked well into the night, finalizing the story, sending out communication, setting up distribution channels, and marketing the release of the story.

(I can attest. This is the rigorous process of an Indie Author. Wearing multiple hats and handling all aspects of writing and promotion for each and every book, he/she wants to publish.)

Exhausted and fatigued, and sometimes delirious, I plugged away at completing this project to the best I knew how. I made a commitment to myself and my daughters, and I was going to accomplish it no matter what. So, why did I put myself through such emotional stress for a just a 96-page tale?

In a recent interview with Mundus Media Ink, whom I used to help me convert my book into paperback and ebook format, I had this to say about my writing passion:

“I write for the euphoric desire and need to transfer spiraling thoughts into words that move people emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I love taking everyday life situations and circumstances that people encounter, struggle and conquer, and turn it into creative storylines.”

On my website’s Welcome page, I say…

“People often ask me what it’s like to write. I tell them the effect of living and breathing your character’s lives is like immersing yourself underwater for an indefinite amount of time. Time being the key word. When I know I’ve captured all the details required, that’s when I come up for air. You got to have a good set of lungs to be a writer.”

On my About page of my website, this is the root reason for writing…

“I have two addictions: reading and writing. I feel restless and empty when I can’t read fiction, write my deepest thoughts in my journal, or even write down story ideas. Writing calms me, centers me, and provides a healthy outlet to my communication of imaginary friends.”

I can’t explain it, but I got to think that the fastest Marathon runners like Dennis Kimetto and Emmanuel Mutai, Olympians like Michael Phelp, renowned scientists like Albert Einstein, and inventors like Steve Jobs, would understand about passion, going beyond to find solutions, experiencing hopelessness when something goes wrong, and wondering, where do you go next when you’ve accomplished the highest record achievable?

I can’t break world records in running or swimming; I am definitely not a scientist; and I really haven’t invented anything. But, I can personally understand “post-partum” emotion. Growing and nurturing something inside me, talking to it, feeling the heartbeat and kicks, and going through all sorts of sensations for nine months, not really seeing what that “final” creation looks like, but loving it, no less. Even though, seeing your baby live when it is born is the most awesome, blessed miracle; it’s just not the point here. Keep reading (wink…wink)

Which leads me to this…

Petrella, the Gillian Princess was released to the world on November 23rd, 2016, two weeks later from my original launch date. A story dedicated to my daughters who were the inspiration behind the main characters: Princess Petrella, King Hermas, and Finerd.

Oh, the many nights of conversation I had in my head with all my characters. And now, poof…Done. No more tweaking or changing the storyline. Conversations ceasing altogether because they’ve been documented, transcribed, and are now printed.

And so, right after the book launched, I felt myself plummet into a dark hole of isolation, realizing this ugly feeling of finality.

Going online, I did a Google search on “Writer Depression/Why Writers are Depressed?” I discovered there were over thirteen million hits on the key words.

I started reading up on well-known writers who have suffered depression during their writing career. A few are listed here.

  • Sylvia Plath
  • William Styron
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Anne Sexton

I then started researching ways to overcome these dark feelings. And I learned the importance of …

  • Setting a regular schedule of writing—Doesn’t always happen with me. I’m a mom first and the “CEO” of my home; so chores and errands sometimes take precedence over writing.
  • Exercising—Yep, every day…I have too even for 15-20 minutes a day.
  • Getting enough sleep—Love this one! How? Most of my creativity happens after 9 p.m., and I write in the middle of the night.
  • Talking with others or joining various social groups; Do volunteer work—I try and am involved in groups and organizations.
  • Even taking a break from writing altogether—Eh, maybe?

We are in the last month of the year. Lots to do and accomplish. I’m a little burnt out of writing and have reluctantly decided to give myself time to relax (hard to do as I am a type “A” personality), celebrate having written and published two books, and do a little of selling/promo for Petrella, the Gillian Princess. Importantly, I want to focus on the Advent Season/Christmas.

I have two projects waiting in the wings. A short-story, a Dystopian-type tale that I had written back in 2007 which I want to resurrect again. And, a Woman’s fiction in which I have a ton of edits to work through. At this point, I am not sure when I’ll start those projects. Time will tell. I need to pause.

One of my favorite up and coming Country singers these days is Brett Eldredge.  A fellow Illinoian and Cubs fan too, I had the joy of seeing him perform live in October with Keith Urban.

His song, “Wanna Be” is a perfect anthem for where I am with writing these days. It’s a song probably better suited for weddings, but none-the-less, I’ll make it my own. Check out his video here.

It’s my muse to the Lord that I “wanna be” that messenger of words for Him. He has given me a gift of writing and I must surrender to accomplishing that task. I “wanna be” that writer for my readers—by writing stories about people who struggle with decisions and conflicts that arise in their lives. Things that we can all relate to. And, I “wanna be” that role-model for my daughters—tell honest and compelling stories, show them what it takes to work hard and persevere, and never give up for the right cause.

Because in the end…this is what sums it up. “When you’re standing in the moment, every life has a sound track…” Every character has a voice, an action, and thought.

I don’t know what the next chapter of my life is going to be, but I now understand (finally, after two books), that it’s okay to grieve when I finish a book, and that I can slowly begin to wean myself from the story and let it flourish—Just like a newborn baby, there is a need to let it become.

“Sometimes it’s the unseen experience that helps one understand the seen potential.”

If you or someone you love is experiencing feelings of depression or isolation, please contact:

Resources:

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=urgent_crisis_hotline

http://www.alternativedepressiontherapy.com/free-hotlines.html

http://www.depression-chat-rooms.org/depression-helplines.htm

References:

http://www.runnersworld.com/newswire/the-worlds-fastest-marathons-and-marathoners.

http://www.biography.com/people/michael-phelps-345192.

http://listverse.com/2009/02/24/top-10-most-influential-scientists/.

http://www.biography.com/people/steve-jobs-9354805

http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/why-writers-are-prone-to-depression-6709.aspx

http://www.elizabethmoon.com/writing-depression.html

https://mythicscribes.com/writing-life/writers-and-depression/

https://litreactor.com/interviews/writers-and-depression-an-interview-with-psychotherapist-and-author-philip-kenney

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/14/books/exploring-the-links-between-depression-writers-and-suicide.html

http://www.writingandwellness.com/2016/11/08/why-writers-feel-depressed-and-how-to-deal/

https://mishaherwin.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/why-writers-get-depressed/

 

2 Comments on “Writer Depression: Fact or Fiction?
  1. Chiara, I understand what you are going through. I am currently at an editing standstill while I wait as writers complete their manuscripts. Do I feel depressed? Not really. But I do feel in limbo. Is this a bad thing? I think not. It gives me a chance to rest and regroup. Try to think of your writing hiatus like that. Don’t dwell on negative thoughts. Think about the monumental task you recently completed and bask in the light of accomplishment that you so richly deserve. Spend time with your family and rest knowing that you have done something few could ever achieve. You have created a life-long memory for your children and others around the world. I think you’re tops.

    Your friend (and editor)… Dennis

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