I was beginning to worry about my writing. I’ve been doing a lot of talking about writing in my rapidly growing(“, he said smugly, “) Facebook group called ‘Creative Writers‘. I haven’t been doing a lot of creative writing myself though. I haven’t been able to delve into my stories lately, and it was beginning to worry me.
At first I tried telling myself little pep talks. ‘It’s okay, you’ve got the day off tomorrow, you can catch up then’ only to do nothing productive that day, except perhaps talking about writing online to other writers. The advice I’ve been giving seems to be popular. The Creative Writers group only had 32 members when I took over as admin, and now membership is up to 805!
As you can see I still have a tendency to default to looking on the bright side even when I’m trying to describe how ineffective positive thinking was! 🙂 Lately I’ve been getting too easily distracted and sidetracked. Again, my internal Mr Brightside is telling me that some of my ‘sidetracks’ are actually good ideas. Monolith, for example, has a lot of potential. As do the half a dozen or more new story ideas I’ve had (I may tell you about them in upcoming articles).
My point was that I was beginning to feel depressed because I was spending too much time working at the hotel, sleeping (or laying awake waiting for my gf to get up), having tickle fights and talking about writing. I was even beginning to wonder if I would have to give up my girlfriend (whom I love) to find the time to write.
I was even trying to think positively about the prospect ‘You won’t be as happy, but you can use that misery to make your characters more believably tragic and pathetic’ I’d say to myself. Then I’d realise how crazy that sounded and was left with only was positive sounding resolution. ‘You got this. You can find a way to be happy and become a successful writer. You just have to try harder’.
I thought maybe that I should try to limit my writing time to when I can write uninterrupted. It didn’t take me long to figure out that there’s no such thing. Even if there’s nothing else happening I distract myself. It’s only today when I was talking about this with my girlfriend that it occurred to me that I could pay her more attention and submerse myself in the story I’m writing by talking to her about my ideas.
I seem to recall I used to do this, and she would listen intently as I told her about the part of the story I was stuck on. Most of the time I’d then come up with what happens next anyway without any input from her, then I’d start writing and she’d go back to her game. I think maybe it’s because she just listened and didn’t have to say much that I began to think she didn’t need to be bothered with my writing process. I thought maybe she wasn’t interested, but it turns out she’s happy to be my sounding board.
Maybe I should try it with the stories I’m editing too. I know that you catch more mistakes when you read a story aloud. Maybe I should read Hermes925 from the beginning to her. See if we can catch any continuity errors and other mistakes. It could work! I wouldn’t have come to this conclusion if I hadn’t been prepared to explore my negativity, and think through the thoughts I didn’t want to have.
When I was living in America I didn’t think much of myself. My shitty opinion of myself drove me to read countless books on sales, marketing, entrepeneurship, coping with adhd, anxiety, depression, and other self-help books like “Think and Grow Rich” and “The Magic of Thinking BIG!” I haven’t had the motivation to do that since moving back to the UK. There’s still lots of unread self-improvement books on my Kindle, but I’m happier here.
Part of me wishes I was still so desperate to be proud of myself that I read anything and everything that could help me. On the positive side though, it worked. I gained the self-confidence I needed to improve my situation and make a better life for myself. Now’s not the time to rest though. I’m still a long way from becoming the literary success I want to be.
I have to remember that when I’m feeling low, it may not be just a random imbalance of chemicals. It may actually be an indicator that something is wrong, and worth exploring. If nothing else it will give me an insight into my feelings that would be invaluable. Both from a writing perspective, and just getting to understand myself better and know how to make myself happy. At best I may actually figure out a way to correct the cause of negative emotions, and actually improve my life.
I know that for some people Depression really is just an uncontrollable chemical imbalance that leaves you the victim of your moods. I’m not content with this diagnosis personally. I don’t like being the victim. It feels like willingly locking a pair of hobbles around your ankles and saying it’s because you can’t run.
I know I could make myself happier artificially with drugs, exercise, and positive thinking (sometimes I wonder if love should be counted on this list), but I’m much rather be happy for achieving my goals, and pay attention to my sadness to find out what my next goal should be. If it turns out I’m sad because I’m not writing enough, my goal is to make more time to write. If I’m sad because my desk it so cluttered I can’t find anything, I need to clear it.
I’m sad about my Grandma’s health too, but I don’t have any control over that. All I can do is keep working on me. If I somehow manage to become wealthy beyond my wildest dreams, receive a kind and generous offer from a wealthy patron, or I suddenly became a super-genius, maybe I could find a way to make her better. Maybe I can challenge the grim reaper to a game of Exploding Kittens and make him restore her and Grandad to full health and vigour (providing I win)?
Anyway, I need to get ready for my hotel job soon, so I have to wrap this up. My point was that bad moods have been misrepresented. When you’re upset, there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe we shouldn’t all be trying to avoid, cover-up, or chemically alter our negative emotions. Maybe we should be trying to figure out why we’re feeling sad, really, underneath all the bullshit you’ve told yourself. Really dig in until you find the answer that makes your mood lift.
If you do actually try this yourself, let me know how it goes. Even if you don’t and you think I’m wrong because depression is a chemical imbalance that can only be treated with prescription medication, I’d like to hear your opinion too, though I admit I will probably take you more seriously if you at least try to find out what your sadness might be really trying to tell you.
Maybe we could write a book on the subject?
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Have a valuable day! 🙂