Writing Can Be Depressing. It’s Okay.

There is clinical depression, which is a medical condition that requires treatment. Then there is being depressed. The latter can be a prelude to the former, but not always. Sometimes we are just very down, and can be for quite a while.

Certain situations are inherently depressing. That doesn’t mean everyone will find themselves depressed when confronted with those situations, but rather whatever one’s natural tendency is to be depressed or gloomy is enhanced by being faced with said situations.

I think writing is one of those situations. To be more specific, writing and not finding your audience is depressing. Needing an audience is depressing. Even the process of writing can in fact be depressing.

Let it be so.

By my observations, the prevailing advice to struggling (and not so struggling) writers is that this world we inhabit wherein we create worlds for others to inhabit ought always to be awe-inspiring, or at least joyful. “Don’t let it become a burden! If writing has you down, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

No, perhaps you need a break from it if writing is starting to depress you. Or maybe, just maybe for some people depression (non-medical) is part of the writing concept as much as or even more than is ebullient toiling.

Who declared that something worth doing must always be joyful? Let’s face it, if we put as much work and heart into any other type of long term project as we do writing a novel, only to have it come to nothing for anyone else, it would be depressing in many cases. We’d own it, lament, and then, hopefully, move on to another project. Why should it not be so with writing?

I’ve said before I write fiction to be read, not merely to say I did it. Writing novels, and increasingly, these blog posts straight into oblivion is a depressing, disenchanting experience for me. The time might come when I stop doing it altogether.

Or, I may just decide that being depressed about the state of my writing is nothing to be ashamed of. I may choose if not to embrace than to at least accept that for my and my psyche, being depressed is for now part of the bargain. Not right or wrong, simply a component.

Let’s not shame the depressed writer anymore. Even if they are in the doldrums for a while, let them be. Especially if they continue to write even if they find the whole idea depressing. Let’s not tell them to “give it up” if it depresses them. What they need is encouragement and appreciation for the totality of their writing mood, wherever they happen to be in the journey. We serve them well by accepting that, and them, without judgment.

 

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