Writing is a struggle against silence.
– Carlos Fuentes
Many writers freeze up when overloaded with problems or buried in deep depression. You don’t have to and I’m living proof.
When I was depressed for a number of years, writing was my main hold on life. The depression started as post-partum blues in the late 1970s and escalated to full-blown depression.
Disclaimer here: the psychiatrist diagnosed it as reactionary depression and some high anxiety. In other words outside events caused me to feel depressed. So, perhaps the type of depression had something to do with my ability to keep on writing. I also had a regular freelance writing gig, doing a weekly column and feature articles for one of the local newspapers. And I had a son to raise. Those were the two responsibilities that I focused on.
Not to say I didn’t fall off the wagon. But that’s another story.
I haven’t been depressed for years but I still have the high anxiety – a regular fallout from outside events. Instead of depression, I get angry. But anger makes me get going and accomplishing things. Including writing, particularly fiction.
So, how can you use your fiction writing as at least a distraction from your problems and/or your depression? Let me illustrate the ways.
1. Instead of writer’s block when you turn on your computer, write. Start by writing where the fear, where the anger is and where it leads you. This is called freefall writing. That will open up your creative juices to get to No. 2. Or you may be able to skip No. 1.
2. Start a new short story or novel chapter – or work on one already started. Force yourself to start writing. It may take a few go’s, but once you get into it, you become absorbed in what you are writing. Your characters and their concerns will fill your mind and you will connect to them so much that your problems will go behind the back burner of your mind.
3. If you want to do something about the problem, for example if someone is causing you grief and you are stymied about a solution, then write a short story loosely based on the problem. Or do as I did in one of my stories in Beyond the Tripping Point – put the infuriating person in your life into your story. And don’t make them a nice person. This particular relative had been giving me grief about something I had put in the original version of my memoir. I was so upset I wasn’t going to let her off the hook. So I used her essence, i.e., her age and appearance for one of the characters in that short story (“Gone Missing,” if you really want to know). I even had the character working in the same type of “industry” but in another capacity. And here is the crème de la crème – that character was one of the suspects who turned out to be very bad. I often mention this in my talks and readings from Beyond the Tripping Point, with the added comment, “You don’t want to tick me off.”
4. Keep a journal. Yes, I know journaling about your problems on a daily basis is nothing new. But how about doing a twist on that. Use the fiction writing angle. One way is to write the daily postings from the point of view of one of the characters in your short stories or novel. Get inside your character’s head. How would this character see and handle the problem and/or problem person? Or better still, skip your goody-two-shoes character and use a nasty one. How would your nasty character see the problem and handle it?
Using the above, you might find a possible solution to your problem. Or you might get more insight into your characters and write more fiction. At the very least, you have found a creative way, an all encompassing way, to distract you for some time from the misery in your life.
And that’s not just good for your writing; it is also good for your health.
You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date.
Sharon A. Crawford