Hey all! Things are going well, even though my joints are still achy as hell. I’ll cover my Camp NaNo wrap up at the bottom of this post.
This is a post that I’ve been wanting to write for quite awhile now. It’s one that’s close to my
heart because, well, it’s something that I’ve dealt with quite a lot. Especially in the last couple years. I remember hearing that ‘creativity and depression often go hand in hand’ throughout high school and sometimes even in college. I talk about it a little in ‘Creativity, Depression, and Self Worth‘ as well as ‘The Top 3 Things that Kill my Writing‘. Depression is something that directly impacts my writing. It has for a very long time.
in the past…
In the past I was one of those who was thinking that in order to produce good creative work, I needed to be me. I needed to not be on medication because the medication would change who I am. I thought that depression was making me more creative.
This is really dangerous thinking.
Depression isn’t something that makes me more creative, it’s something that hinders every single aspect of my life. Sometimes it makes me not want to get out of bed. Sometimes it makes me feel so down that I think there’s no point in writing anything. Sometimes it makes me think that everyone hates me. It often makes me hate myself.
I am creative. My depression is not creativity.
The issue is managing to continue work while feeling all those things.
working with depression
This is the difficult part. Working up the energy/motivation to even sit down and write can be the worst part of it. When I’m at my worst, I just sit around and stagnate rather than doing anything productive. Sometimes when I manage to get writing it feels like I’m pulling teeth to get words. And I said this on my Patreon, but writing should not feel like dentistry.
I try to get a little done every day, even if it’s just a few sentences. Even if I’m just RPing – which I count as practice as it allows me to work on characterization, pacing, and dialogue. Even if I only manage to work on outlines or character design. So long as I’m getting a little done, I call that day a success.
…so how do you do that? how do you keep writing?
First, I try to not put too much pressure on myself. This isn’t always successful. I get upset when I’m not producing what I want to be producing. The most frustrating feeling for me is to sit in front of my computer with a blank document and the cursor blinking at me. It’s like it’s mocking me. Tell yourself that instead of ‘1000 words’ that you’re shooting for a single sentence. It seems small, right? It seems like that doesn’t matter much, but you’re one sentence further into your story than you were the previous day. That’s an accomplishment.
I celebrate my victories. Even if they’re tiny. I got my one sentence goal? Time to give myself a small prize. Sometimes candy, sometimes playing a video game, sometimes watching a move, sometimes reading a book. Something that will make me feel happy.
That one sentence thing. Keep in mind that the one sentence could turn into 1000 words on a good day. When those days happen – when I completely and utterly exceed my daily expectations…well…I’m thrilled to pieces. The goal is picking up momentum. Once you get started, it’s easier to keep going.
and what about the depression part?
Well. I took charge and went to a doctor to get on medication. It had gone on way too long. I hadn’t produced much writing in a year. I thought I was doing better, but in reality, I was struggling just as much. I’d just gotten used to it, I guess.
Talk to people. Write a journal. Track how you’re feeling. And if it’s been going on a long time or is severe, there’s no shame in seeking help.
There’s no shame in seeking help anyway.
Part of this is recognizing that your creativity is something that is yours. It isn’t caused or enhanced by depression. If you’re producing really great material during a depressive spell, that’s all on you, not on the depression. You’re the creative one.
We just have to keep on keeping on, right?
Camp NaNoWriMo Wrap Up
So I won Camp NaNoWriMo. I had a rough start of the month because of a convention. As you can see, I rallied pretty hard in the middle of the month and caught up. My rates tapered off because of my joint soreness and fatigue, but I finished. I’m so pleased that I did.
I didn’t write every day. But I did 50k (and some change) on a project in a month. That’s an accomplishment. This one isn’t done yet. I have about 20k left to write on this project, but I’ve made a huge amount of progress and that’s all I can ask for. Thank you to everyone in my cabin, it was a pleasure writing with you all! It’s great to have that kind of support. For those of you who want to try NaNoWriMo, but are afraid that the 50k word goal is a bit steep – Camp NaNoWriMo lets you set your own goal. It takes place in April and November, check it out!