Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fear and Loathing in Writing

Tip of the Day: If you have been experiencing depression or disturbing thoughts and/or feelings, see your doctor. There is NO SHAME in this.

*all names have been changed to protect myself from losing friends*

Many moons ago, my friend Figgy Fuzzbudget texted me. The following is a dramatic interpretation of real texts.

FF: I think I'm clinically depressed.
MJ: Why?
FF: I saw that commerical for Abilify. That's me. They're talking about me.
MJ: Shut up. You're fine. You're a writer, we all go through those bouts. Now get back to your manuscript.

If I had any indication at all that one my dearest friends was seriously clinically depressed, I wouldn't have treated the text so casually. I know Figgy well and while, yes, there probably was some depression, there wasn't anything alarming going on.
Microsoft Office Clipart

We writers tend toward the dramatic.  We spend the majority of our awake time running crazy scenarios through our heads. When I was younger, I thought there was something wrong with me. Turns out there are thousands upon thousands of others out there like me. They're commonly referred to as creative people. So much for being unique...

When you have that uncanny ability to think of devastating scenes on a regular basis, it's bound to take a toll on your real life. Channeling them into writing helps, but I venture every single writer out there would grudgingly admit they apply their overactive imagination to real life on occasion. And that's when we get depressed and wonder if there really is something wrong with us.

This career, while magical and amazing, is also easily devastating. Everything is subjective. One person loves your book. The next person hates it, accuses you of trying to negatively influence readers with your outdated, ignorant agenda (despite the fact you didn't even gave a thought to that while you were writing). Readers don't mind spewing hatred in your direction. They don't mind taunting you if your next book wasn't as incredible as your last. They turn on you at the drop of a hat, not stopping to think that your very soul was poured into creating that book they just ripped apart.

Putting out a new book can be an incredibly frightening endeavor - forcing you to question everything about yourself. Not just your word choices, but your weight, your relationships, and what you ate for breakfast. We creative types tend to overindulge in drama - not because we want to, but because we're hardwired to do so. If we weren't, we'd be accountants (not slamming accountants, I have three in my family). It's simply a different mind set and ours is sometimes set to bonkers.

What you need to is find other like-minded writers. Bitch when you need to and be supportive to your friends when they need it. Give yourself a day or two to stop hating your latest book before deleting it from your hard drive forever (as I've considered doing more than once). Take a day off of writing if you need to.

Just know you are not alone. We all escape to those dark, devastating caves. If you can't see a light, or fail to find your way out, seek professional help. If you can see the light, but want to give it the finger, chances are you just need a shoulder to cry on for a while.

And I know I said at the top names have been changed, but I only told one story. So here's a list of other writers I frequently commiserate with: Sally Stickleberry, Patty Poopypants, Frank Fuggedaboutit, and Golly Geewillikers.

Be that shoulder. Be honest about your feelings. Help your friends see that they are not alone.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber


Sarra Cannon said...

I'm totally Sally Stickleberry. I just know it! :) Thanks for this post. It's good to know I'm not in this alone.

Daisy Carter said...

That baby on the left? That's me in a nutshell some days. Thanks for this - it's a nice reminder that we're all a little crazy here.

Megg Jensen said...

Sarra - hahaha! Karly said she's Patty Poopypants. ;)

Daisy - I think I feel like a baby at least once a day. ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow... you don't know how much better this article made me feel... i actually do suffer from depression and think i'm pretty much out of my mind... but this kind of makes it all make sense now... although i would like to say i'm doing much better now-a-days but the stress of someone hating my book still gets to me sometimes... I'd really like to share this on my site...

Megg Jensen said...

Hi rgdole,

I just saw your comment. You can absolutely share, just please link back to this post.

I want to send you huge hugs. Its hard dealing with all of the rejection and sadness. You're not alone!!!!