On Writing and Depression: My Creative Down-swings

Jason Arnopp @JasonArnopp  (Author, scriptwriter. Doctor Who, Sarah Jane, Friday 13th) is working on a book regarding professional (Fiction) writers and Depression. He asked me to contribute. This is what I had to say…

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On Writing & Depression: Creative Down-swings

A well-meaning new-found long-lost relative decided to comment on my NaNoWriMo 2011 Facebook entry referring to my struggles to participate because of Major Depression: “truth is I’m strategic…” she wrote. “…the goal is achievable you have to trust yourself to make it happen.” Her sentiments are typical of the simple-minded inspiration porn that I am forced to put up with routinely. My response is always that I do what I can, when I can, but unfortunately more often than not it means struggling immensely to do not very much at all. I give myself pep talks and formulate strategies to try and be productive to no avail.

The greatest irony for me as a writer living with Depression has always been that I get my best ideas and am the most prolific when in a severe down-swing. I find that writing fiction, even Harry Potter fan fiction, is therapeutic in a way that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has never been for me. I even managed to put this into one of my stories with a fan fiction-writing protagonist who proposed that “sometimes fiction serves a purpose in enabling people to live out their fantasies, purge their own demons or perhaps set a standard for themselves. It was only when people confused fantasy with reality that there was a problem.”Self-insertion? I won’t deny it. I’ve learned an awful lot about myself and my illness through writing and making use of my own lived experience (especially post-diagnosis in 2009). This in turn informs others including those who live with it – something still sorely needed to combat the stigma of mental illness. I would also agree that I lose myself in the gloriousness of creation process. This is even more pronounced during manic cycles of insomnia. Perhaps that’s why I have so many epic tales that remain unfinished after starting them nearly a decade ago and have failed to live up to the potential I’ve been told that I have. Depression has impacted every aspect of my life for good or ill, and my interests and ambitions as a professional writer are no exception.

Lisa J. Ellwood

@CreativeCrip (Social Justice, Mental Illness, Disability)

https://thecreativecrip.wordpress.com/

@IconicImagery (Professional Writing & Communications account)

http://iconic-imagery.co.uk/

http://iconicimagery.wordpress.com/

http://www.fanfiction.net/u/598860/NativeMoon (Fan Fiction Writing)

Related Articles:

#NaNoWriMo 2011 (#disability #spoonie #mentalhealth) – #amwriting (thecreativecrip.wordpress.com

#NaNoWriMo – Day 2: Not #fitforwork or anything else… (thecreativecrip.wordpress.com

@CreativeCrip in the media: #xmasathome #nyeathome interview GRAZIA Australia (thecreativecrip.wordpress.com

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