October 22nd, 2010 / 12:18 pm
Craft Notes


Do you write more or less during times when you’re depressed?   For me there are two kinds of depression, the kind that comes from failure or rejection (which usually leads to long sessions of writing), and the kind that comes from feeling worthless because I’m not writing enough (which is tougher to beat because it’s not intuitively obvious that the cause is not enough writing; breaking this sort of depression requires more willfulness, because the insidious thing is that is doesn’t particularly make me feel like writing; I just have to remind myself from past experience that productivity makes me feel not-worthless).

Tags: ,


  1. Hank

      how does one get the energy to write during a depression or even the energy to read.

  2. goner

      I was thinking the same thing. Depression can be quite crippling–beyond just feeling sad or what have you–and when that happens the thought of getting out of bed can be too much to deal with. I think there’s this romanticized notion about depression and the arts where the creativity comes bursting out of you in fits of sadness…but the reality can be quite different.

  3. christopher.
  4. L Lee Lowe

      There is a big difference between depression and feeling depressed.

  5. RyanPard

      I don’t really write at all if I’m in the middle of an episode. Depression kills my ability to concentrate anyway, so I’m not sure it’d matter. I do read when I’m depressed, but only compulsively, and to the exclusion of anything else that makes life worthwhile. . . like showering, leaving the bed. . . paying bills. . . getting up to urinate. . . (Aquafina bottles can be pretty handy!)

  6. Owen Kaelin

      What Goner and Ryan said. There’s no motivation to be found, here, only paralysis.

      If it hurts merely to be awake, there’s not much likelihood you’re going to be up and writing.

      As for the different styles of being depressed… it seems to me that in essence it’s all the same, really, it’s just that one style has a cause, the other doesn’t.

  7. sean k

      Makes me think of this article that tries to show an evolutionary basis for depression: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/magazine/28depression-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

      This paragraph maybe gets at how depression fuels writing:
      “And then there’s the virtue of self-loathing, which is one of the symptoms of depression. When people are stuck in the ruminative spiral, their achievements become invisible; the mind is only interested in what has gone wrong. While this condition is typically linked to withdrawal and silence — people become unwilling to communicate — there’s some suggestive evidence that states of unhappiness can actually improve our expressive abilities. Forgas said he has found that sadness correlates with clearer and more compelling sentences, and that negative moods “promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style.” Because we’re more critical of what we’re writing, we produce more refined prose, the sentences polished by our angst. As Roland Barthes observed, “A creative writer is one for whom writing is a problem.””

  8. MM

      sad, i sleep. i write when feeling fancy, often caff’d by camellia.

      on the contrary, i have a fondness for the sinister symphonies foreshadowing suicide.

  9. P. H. Madore

      I’m with it. No, I don’t write worth a fuck when the fear sets in.