1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Is writing inherently depressing?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Annoyingkid, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    It's a solitary, inactive, labour intensive activity with very slow rate of reward for the brain.

    So I say yes.
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    If that's how you view it, then yes, that kinda sounds depressing. However, it's not necessarily solitary, at least not for everyone (meaning, for me). I do a lot of writing out of the house, in pubs and cafes or just out on a park bench somewhere. I usually keep my headphones on to be left alone, but I've got people around me and often a smile and a nod is enough social interaction.

    Inactive and labour intensive, yes. I sit still, and writing is a slow process for me, it takes a lot of time to get something done, and it can take a lot of effort.

    Slow rate of reward I do not agree with, unless there's something implied in rate of reward for the brain that I'm missing. For me it's something of a reward seeing the story come to life and take shape and figuring out where to go next, or just coming up with a clever way of wording something, or resolving a tricky situation in an elegant manner.
    Mind you, this usually doesn't happen right away as I sit down to write, and it often takes a while to get there, but it will eventually get to that point.

    I agree that writing can be depressing, but it doesn't have to be I don't agree that it's inherent.
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    I'd say No.
    Because I get to play out all the fantasies and whims of my mind and soul to see what will happen.
    And that is just COOL!
    I'll agree that I have to write on my own, but I know more than a few writers that have a favourite seat in a bar or cafe at which they write. It also saves on the electricity and heating bills to do it away from home.
    I wouldn't call the way I write labour intensive, but we probably have different definitions for that phrase. Yes it does take someone to do the writing but there isn't usually a lot of heavy lifting or physical stress involved [unless I'm doing it all wrong]. So I don't mind sitting and writing.
    My fingers aren't as quick as my mind at getting the story written but that gives me time for second, third and more ideas to come tumbling out. And if I'm willing to give several hours to read a book that took someone several years to write, I don't mind the time I spend writing. Divide it by the number of readers and it is probably close to instantaneous... [Don't go trying to follow that logic - it work inside my head if nowhere else...]
    On the other hand...
    Trying for the x-nth time to get a scene or a line of dialogue to work on the page they way I feel it in my mind... Now that can get depressing. But that is why the gods gave us coffee. So we could take a break from writing and go and think about something else for a few minute.
    And then there is this...
    PHD Comics: Psych
    That's what I find truly and deeply depressing about writing... When I sit down with all the hope and expectation I can muster and spend the day on [ahem] "research"...
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I don’t find it depressing at all. Quite the opposite. And I know some writers who struggle with depression who find it therapeutic.
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    No. I’m not giddy while writing, by any stretch, but a mild anxiety and depression will build if I’m not writing for a time.
    Michael K. Eidson, Guy and Xitra_Blud like this.
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    For me, this.

    Like most things I enjoy, the reward is in the act of doing. A story is a puzzle to be assembled. It stimulates my mind.

    Is it always fun and games, no. Sometimes it can be a struggle, but there's nothing like the reward of finding your way through the challenges. Because each challenge met, failed or overcome, makes me a slightly better writer.

    If I'm depressed, writing has nothing to do with it.
  7. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    I may be inherently depressed, but writing does not make me that way. It is quite possibly an outlet. Where else to I get to turn on all the creative process and make something that always seems cool to me?

    And yes, I find it solitary, inactive, labour intensive and with a slow rate of return, but compare to some alternatives... Is there any art form that is not these things? How long must I play my guitar before I able to create music? What is the rate of return on that. I've been at it for more than a few years and I still don't make any money with it. But I enjoy making the music. Or painting, how long before Picasso was making his famous works? I bet his rate of return was pretty slow as well. And I could go another route, give up a creative form, give my time and energy to a company, get a sure reward for my efforts, but at the end of many years, I will have nothing that I made myself, or that anyone will appreciate just a few years after I am gone. I'd rather have my own body of work to leave behind.
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  8. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    Writing makes me anxious about how crap my writing is, and not writing makes me depressed about how crap I am. 2/10 would not recommend my brain.
    Tom likes this.
  9. Tom

    Tom Istar

    I'd say writing is a mixed bag for me. On one hand, it's incredibly depressing when I don't have the motivation to write and have to sit there with ideas threatening to explode my brain. On the other hand, when I can write, it's relaxing (most of the time) and gratifying to see that I can actually be productive (even if what I'm producing is absolute shit).
    StepIntoTheRoad and Xitra_Blud like this.
  10. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Huh.... I can't say I've ever found it depressing. I find it frustrating, hard work, illuminating, humbling... but never depressing. For me it isn't lonely because I have a great group of partners to share it with. I work out a lot and get a ton of outdoor time, so the inactivity doesn't bother me. I find it restful. There is a slow rate of external reward, but I find it highly gratifying internally on a fairly regular basis.

    Plus the stuff I write excites me. It makes me happy. It makes me hopeful and uplifted.

    When I was young I used to write really depressing, sad, scary stuff. I thought it was good. My mother said "writing depressing stuff is easy. Writing stuff that uplifts people is hard." She was right. Now I write stuff that brings me (and other people) joy. So no, it is never depressing.
    Penpilot likes this.
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    These words speak of discouragement, even drudgery, but not depression. I tread carefully around that word.

    But I'll take small issue with the slow rate of reward. If you're talking about publishing, then yeah. But I get rewarded every time I read back over earlier chapters (or stories) and think "well, that did not entirely suck." Which is the highest form of self-praise I can manage. :)
    Michael K. Eidson and Penpilot like this.
  12. Xitra_Blud

    Xitra_Blud Sage

    No. Not for me. If it was depressing, I wouldn't do it. I find writing very rewarding in both a therapeutic sense and in way to spend time. I do have to ask, though, if it's a draining and laboring activity, that lacks reward for you, why do you do it?
    Michael K. Eidson, Chessie2 and Guy like this.
  13. Guy

    Guy Inkling


    I like the solitary nature of it. It may be physically inactive but it is tremendously mentally active, and I get a substantial sense of accomplishment when I get some writing done..
    Michael K. Eidson and Xitra_Blud like this.
  14. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    It's a total rush.
    Heliotrope likes this.
  15. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    If it’s depressing you’re not doing it the right way, or you’re not working on the right things.

    Either that or writing isn’t for you. There are plenty of creative outlets. I wouldn’t spend so much time doing something that depresses me. I’d find something that fulfills.
  16. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

    Writing fiction means being fine with the idea that the portion of your life spent doing it is dedicated to an imaginary reality. Think of putting down the pen or boxing the keyboard and spending that time exploring the real world, with real people, doing real things instead; now compare the two. Well sure, that comparison might lead to a feeling of depression, if you dwell on it. But then, if you dwell on that thought, you're spending your time in an imaginary world after all. :cautious:
    Heliotrope likes this.
  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I don't find it depressing, but I do recognize that many people write because they are depressed. It's also worth noting, writing like any art can take a lot of work, and when you do that kind of work ontop of a day job, or in lieu of something that makes money, that can be depressing. But I don't think there's anything inherently depressing about writing. I feel it can be exhilarating.
  18. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    I've been depressed to the point of attempting suicide. Writing helps me not to return to that dark place, but for a long time, I was too depressed to write--or do much of anything for that matter. I don't know how I kept my job, except that my boss was a very caring person. When I was home, I spent all my time in bed, never leaving the room except to go to work, and forcing myself to do that.

    If writing depresses you, stop writing and find something uplifting to do. Go dancing. That was the activity that helped me the most to get out of my depression.
  19. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    Not "publishing", but completion. Takes years to get that reward. Video games, television, movies, all provide instant fantasy and instant entertainment. Whereas I have to put in 2 days of work to write and illustrate a single page. So I have alot of ideas I want to see later in the story, but I have to wait till I get there.

    It's solitary. To those who disagree, if you're talking to someone else, are you writing? No. Socializing around the craft is not writing.

    Telling a great story at the cost of getting depressed within reason is a perfectly fine sacrifice. Where did it come from that Happiness is the state we should all seek at the cost of everything else and that we should all try to live in a one season world? Commercials and corporations who want to convince us that their product is the key to happiness. Suffering is key to the human condition. It builds character and it's only in contrast with suffering that pleasures have any meaning. I fundamentally disagree that depression is something we have to avoid experiencing like the plague. It's that kind of thinking that has led to the absurd overprescription of anti depressants. I'd rather accept my inner darkness than run away from it all the time with short term, immediate pleasures. I'll be free to choose them when the work is done and I'll appreciate it all the more after having gone through the hard work.

    What's the alternative? Having a story in one's mind and keeping it locked in there for a lifetime? Is that really any better?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
    StepIntoTheRoad likes this.
  20. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    This depends on the person and what they want out of life.

    I've told this a few times before, but I think it applies here. I heard an interview with Neil Gaiman once. He told how some come up to him and say they have all these ideas, all these stories they want to tell, but they can't seem to find the time to write them, and they feel guilty about it.

    Gaiman tells them to not feel guilty. Just because they have ideas doesn't mean they're obligated to write them out.

    Cause honestly, everyone has ideas, everyone. IMHO, it's not something unique to those who like to create. The ones who create are just the ones who choose to do something with them.

    There's a limited amount of time we each have on this world, and we each choose how we spend our time. Some choose to write, others choose not to because there are other things they'd rather do at the moment. Neither is a right choice. It's just a choice.

    For me, the reward isn't just in the finishing. It's in the act of doing. I'm rewarded each and every time I sit down to write. I may also get punished, but hey, it' comes with the territory. Just like many things, it's the journey not the destination that counts. The act of writing lets me learn about myself, helps me explore ideas, and helps me understand where I stand on certain things.

    Is writing depressing? For me no. This is from a person who gets bluesy when winter rolls around. But I also believe that people find what they seek.

    No, but if I'm talking to someone about my story and how to deal with and fix certain things, I consider that writing. I may not be adding to its word count, but I'm advancing my story and building onto it ever bit as much as if I were at the keyboard typing.

    As for it being solitary, if I don't want that, I can create myself a friend on the page.

Share This Page