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Is writing inherently depressing?

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

  1. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    The question is if someone can hold an untold story in their mind for their entire life without it irritating them. Is one able to forget the story enough to be at peace with it never being released. from the mind. As for guilt, you're not answerable to anyone besides yourself. But if one feels guilty in that way, then that's the way it is. Being told that there's no reason to feel it is not going to make the person not feel it. There is no "You shouldn't feel guilty for not writing your ideas". You do or you don't.

    And when those times come it's great. But that's a very, very small minority of the time isn't it.

    I'm sure we'd all like to think of our characters as our friends, but at the end of the day, they and we have a job to do.
  2. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    I think people with depressive tendencies just tend to flock to writing. People who feel unheard have a greater desire to make themselves feel heard, even if it is just to themselves. Writing just happens to be a creative medium accesible to everyone with even just a pen and paper. You don't need talent or skill to start writing, so everyone can jump in and jot down their raw emotion anyway they'd like. The actual act of writing is remedying I believe.
  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Solitary isn’t depressing. And for me, I can write with other people in the room... hello wife and daughters... although, I get accused of being elsewhere, a legit complaint, heh heh. I get more done without people around, but I can still get stuff done. I’m a child of mountains, forests, plains, and rivers, not concrete and crowds.

    I’m not saying I hate people, I’m just happier when they’re not around. Much like mosquitoes. No, wait. I hate mosquitoes.
    Heliotrope likes this.
  4. Guy

    Guy Inkling

    I'm pretty pleased with myself when I can get a couple of paragraphs done the way I want them.
    I rather enjoy the solitary nature of it.
    Avoid it like the plague? No, some depression is inevitable, but neither should we seek it out. I get the impression that you don't get a good deal of satisfaction from writing. You seem to get a lot of frustration from it. I think what others are saying is if a completely voluntary activity causes you a lot of frustration and depression and little or no satisfaction, there's no point in doing it.
    But one of your complaints about writing is that there is no immediate pleasure from it and it takes too long to get any sense of reward.
    Perhaps using a different medium, one that grants you the sense of reward you crave.
    Xitra_Blud likes this.
  5. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    No. No activity is inherently depressing. That would mean that causing depression is part of the very nature of writing, which obviously isn't the case. There are so many people who find great joy and satisfaction in their writing.

    That said, I completely sympathize with your feelings. I also get depressed because writing takes so much work and it doesn't come easily to me as it does to others. I sometimes get very jealous of the people who talk about how wonderful it is to just sit down and make stuff up. Well, that's not how it works for me. My mind is always thinking creatively and inventing stories and bits of world no matter what I'm doing. But then to sit down and put it all together in words is a major and often unpleasant effort. It's not that I don't want to do it. I desperately want to. And I often feel like a failure because I find it so difficult. I feel like it shouldn't be difficult and thus that there's something wrong with me. And yes, that makes writing tend to be a depressing activity for me.
  6. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    “If writing depresses you, just stop doing it.”

    The act of writing itself, when it’s going well, no. If not unqualified happiness, there is something feverish, exultant, self-forgetting in it. And—it still feels conceited to say—I do genuinely enjoy re-reading my own writing sometimes, recapturing whatever emotions were embedded there. But when you surround those moments with judgement, criticism, a futile-seeming struggle with the craft, is it any wonder that they become poisoned? I love stories, I love the texture of words, and I think I’m a great daydreamer—none of that means I can write.

    Is it really so hard to understand that there is a dark side to a bright coin: to the joy of creation, the fear of having it destroyed by time and reality, the dread of having a dream for all your life that is still as distant as it ever was, if not more, because the mirage has faded? That something so precious and ephemeral might become the breeding ground for inner demons? No, I don’t believe I’m naturally depressed, because I know people who are and they have much more to worry about than putting words on a page. I’m plagued by realism, and the rootless perfectionism that, out of practicality, has no place in my personal or professional life. Instead it comes home to roost on the thing closest to my heart.

    Is this really a mystery? Have you never felt it? Then, more than anything else, I am envious.
    Ban likes this.
  7. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    The key words here being "within reason." If you are considering suicide, then it has gone too far and you should seek help.

    That's not where I'm coming from. I thing Existence is the minimum state we should all seek. At the cost of everything else? I'm not even sure about that. A one-season world? Yeah, right.

    If you take everything to an extreme, I don't see it as healthy or productive.

    I don't know that suffering is any more key to the human condition than pleasure. Without pleasure, how do you give meaning to suffering?

    It seems that doctors over-prescribe, but in my case, I needed help, and they gave me the help. How many people need the help? Are they to be turned away because others who don't need the help or refuse to accept it clamor about doctors over-prescribing? The thing that doesn't often happen is for the sick individual to get better. I was told I'd be on Prozac for the rest of my life, and I was on it for several years. But I felt that taking an antidepressant contributed to my feeling depressed, so I determined I'd wean myself off it, and I did. I've been off it now for over a decade.

    If you have a serious problem with depression, you need to seek help. If it's not that serious, if you're observing that something you feel compelled to do isn't providing short-term happiness, and you're fine with that, well, okay, I think we all get it now, but we're telling you that for many of us, we don't respond the same way. It is possible to feel a high from even short writing sessions, and to have these highs frequently. Many of us do. It is possible to feel a high from developing a character, from planning a scene, from writing an exquisite sentence, from ruminating over a difficult plot point, from talking to others about our craft. Many of us do. The answer to the question of whether writing is inherently depressing? It obviously isn't inherently depressing for everyone, so, no. If it's depressing for you and you don't mind that feeling, as long as you're not depressed to the point of considering suicide, then congratulate yourself for being in the company of many other great writers who wrote while depressed, and turned out some perfectly great novels. Some of these authors took their own lives, and that's where it went too far. As long as you avoid that, then you're in great company. Writers 'at greater risk of depression', survey finds
    Peat likes this.
  8. Peat

    Peat Sage

    Hmm. Probably not. At least not for me. Certainly there are ways to go about writing which can help lead there - secluded obsessing over your failures, perceived or otherwise, is rarely healthy - but I don't think most people do. And between micro fiction and talking to other people about writing, I find a fair degree of quick gratification and associated socialising. I have some fairly strong levels of hatred towards writing at times, but it doesn't depress me.


    Everyone's different, doing different things... it doesn't fall to me to tell someone that an activity isn't depressing for them. I'd tell them to question it, because the likelihood is something deeper is under it and the importance of success or failure in one particular sphere is only a symptom, but I can't say anything with certainty other than this:

    Get it treated. That doesn't necessarily mean pills. But there's more than enough hard times and suffering in life for anyone to go through without needing to sit in the worst of them.
  9. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Ok. This bothers me. I'll come out and address it.

    AnnoyingKid... Depression is a very serious, life threatening mental illness. What you are talking about is not depression. What you are talking about is "writing is hard work and I don't like it sometimes." That is not depression. There is no such thing as "depression within reason"... sorry. Just no.

    There are people who legitimately struggle with depression as a real mental illness every day. Writing does not "cause" it. Major traumatic events can cause it. PTSD can cause it. Serious brain injury can cause it, or a person simply having a different chemical makeup in their brain can cause it. Writing does not cause it. I don't care how lonely or hard it is.

    You are talking about how the world touts "happiness" as the only emotion and how it is not okay to experience other emotions. I get that and I think that is probably true... but as a result of that mindset I see a lot of people who just feel "sad" or "frustrated" or "overwhelmed" telling everyone they are "depressed" like it is some sort of badge of honour. Like it is some sort of contest to be the most depressed because it will make you the most "real".

    That is an equally disturbing mindset. Again, feeling real human emotions when doing a task that is hard (like frustration, fear, sadness, anger, resentment, or otherwise) is not depression.

    If you actually have real, clinical depression, and you are finding that writing is making it worse. Please stop. Please find another outlet. This is serious.

    If you are just experiencing normal human emotions because writing is *gasp* hard. Than fine. We have all been there. Don't call it depression.
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I can't speak to what others feel. I previously drew a distinction between being discouraged and being depressed, for the reasons others have mentioned--depression is a clinical condition. I agree with others that writing doesn't cause depression.

    I do want to reiterate that there is room for many small joys in the process of writing. Again as others have said, even completing a paragraph--certainly completing a scene to satisfaction--is cause for a smile. That said, getting all the way to done is huge. I encourage Annoying Kid to aim for that with resolve and persistence.

    I spent years on Goblins at the Gates. Wrote a couple hundred thousand words and still didn't have a story. It was profoundly discouraging and I knew why: because so long as it was incomplete, I was not a writer. I was just a guy who wrote stuff, as I had been doing for decades.

    One day, walking my dog, a notion drifted by. It was completely unrelated to anything, but I knew at once it was a short story, not a novel. So I decided I was going to write that thing and send it to a magazine until it got published. There are enough online mags around, your odds of getting published are fairly high.

    Getting that short story written was huge. Actually sending it to magazines was even bigger, psychologically. It's that step when you play your song for someone else, when you turn the painting around for other eyes. You're sending your kid out the door. Then came acceptance (with qualifiers; I had to do some editing). No payment--I've not scaled that wall yet--but it was acceptance.

    Then, and only then, was I done. That moment was revelatory. Only once I've published is a story finished. I knew I was done because some weeks or months later I read the thing, online. I saw places that could be improved, even a place that made me wince ... I was ok with it. The thing was done. I was done with it. I could acknowledge its failings and strengths without fretting.

    Even more important, I knew what done looks like, feels like. Before, it was like running a race in which I did not know the location of the finish line, except that it was over there somewhere. I didn't know how to pace or even if I was running the wrong direction. It was dispiriting. But once I'd finished "The Roadmaster" I had my bearings. I wrote another short story and two novelettes and *still* the novel wasn't finished ... and I was ok with it. I knew I would finish it, because I knew what "finish" meant. And I did finish it, at long weary last. And I'm hard at work at the next novel.

    Along the way, an odd thing happened. I can't say exactly when or how, but it's real. The discouragement that had dogged me for so long transformed into something else: determination. Writing is still lonely, mostly thankless (thanking oneself is pretty empty, but is often all I've got), tedious, unexpectedly and all too briefly joyous, and hard on the body and on the spirit. It's also what I do, so there you go.

    I hate writing, but I love having written.
    --- Dorothy Parker
    It just gets truer every day.
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  11. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    Well, now I feel like shit. I’m sorry if my posts have contributed to this misappropriation, I did use “depression” in the flip, catch-all way that is unfortunately common, and that’s all the worse because my twin sister has major depressive disorder and PTSD. My feelings are jack shit compared to what she struggles with on a daily basis. You’re entirely correct; it’s not comparable, and I apologize.
  12. To me, writing is...

    hard, frustrating, time-consuming, lonely...

    ...but never depressing.

    i just get a rush out of seeing my ideas slowly bloom that makes everything worth it.
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  13. Also, yes, this. As someone who suffers from multiple mental illnesses, I can say that I agree.
    Chessie2 likes this.
  14. It's okay Nimue. Sometimes we are sloppy with our words and can inadvertently cause harm, but in that case we all have to simply recognize that fact and be more careful in the future. We understand, and we've all done similar things.
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  15. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    Depression comes in many, many forms. And it's not for you to say that someone doesn't experience it. I suffer from depression and take medication for it, but I have never had an urge to take my life. My depression makes it hard for me to function in many ways everyday, but it has never been life threatening. Every person who experiences depression does so in different ways.

    I'm sure there are many people out there who exaggerate what they are feeling into depression. However, the idea of some stranger on the internet who knows nothing about someone telling them that what they are experiencing isn't depression because it doesn't fit their preconceived notions is far more disturbing to me. NEVER do that. Never tell someone they don't have depression unless you are a qualified medical professional who has all the necessary information about the person's life to make an accurate diagnosis.
  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    G’grief this conversation got depressing fast.
  17. Nomadica

    Nomadica Troubadour

    It doesn't have to be lonely but If you have a very social job that demands that you focus on other people all day and doesn't allow you to zone in then sitting down in a quiet place at the park and zoning in to your own world to write feels as good as taking a bath after coming home all grimy from a dirty laborious job
  18. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    I cannot speak to depression. It may be that was not exactly the right word to use, and maybe discouraged, or daunting or something else would have been a better choice. Could be depression is the right word, and I could not know. If you are truly feeling depression I think you should pause and consider what needs to be done about that. We all feel depressed at some time or another, for some it is more serious.

    The OP appears to me to be talking about dealing with feelings about the amount of work and time it takes to produce something that has very little reward along the way. I feel that at times. Why am I doing this? No one seems to care, and I am giving up a lot of my time to it. Heck, I don't even know if its really any good?

    For me, when I started, all I had was novels in me and they took a long time to write, needed a lot of fixing when they were done, few people would read them and the path to feedback was unhelpfully slow. I moved into short stories for a while to get a faster path and feedback. I've moved back into novels and guess what, they went back to being slow. All I can say is, if you want a faster path to rewards, you need to write stuff that can be produced faster, such as short stories, or contest entries. Believe me, when you win your first contest, or get that first one published, you wont be feeling it was not worth it. But you must understand, it takes a long time to develop the craft, and while you will see your own progression along the way, it will be some time before others are really letting you know it. This is true in any endeavor though. Before one can play a piano, they have to hit a lot of wrong and off timed notes. We don't see that when they are on stage, but they did.

    I read once that CS Lewis did not enjoy writing the Screwtape letters. His reason being that it took him to a dark place, where his thoughts were always focused on bad stuff, and how everything could be twisted around. So, the writing of it kept him in a dark place and he did not enjoy it. I have felt this too. I've written things meant to be dark and characters with few or no redeeming qualities, and yes, you do have to drink it in a little and it can be wearing. I may have a better tolerance for it than Mr. Lewis (I would not know), but I can understand how he came to feel that way. Maybe others have felt the same.

    The feeling that I may have a story never told inside of me has never plagued me. I do wonder if I will ever get to finish, because of the amount of time that is passing, but once I had completed a few things, I picked up the feeling that I could make it happen, and I did not have to worry for what I could not do, but rather, what would I do now that I knew I could. I hope you get that feeling too.

    I cant do it all, but I do know I have a lot more stories in me. Some may not ever see the light of day, I'll try to pick the best ones and get those out.
  19. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

    But Helio didn’t say AK doesn’t have depression. She spoke in conditionals.
    DragonOfTheAerie likes this.
  20. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    Writing is solitary, yes. But depressing? No way. It's a lot of fun making up stories about imaginary people and sharing them with others.

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