A lot of writers deal with depression. I’ve never stated it outright, but I am one of those writers. Fortunately, my depression is seasonal. Even during the worst bouts, I still have the ability to function day to day. It’s more like an itch I can’t scratch than a broken hip. Sometimes the itch is all I can focus on, and this hinders me, but it doesn’t cripple me.
I used to get down on myself if I didn’t hold to the mantra that you must “write every day.” And of course, this self-deprecating attitude would lead to more depression and lower productivity. But writing is far too personal to generalize like that. Still, it took me some time to be okay with my own process. It wasn’t until I stepped out of the current moment in time and looked at myself in terms of a whole year here, a whole year there, that things finally, blessedly, clicked into place.
I am a seasonal writer. There are large chunks of time–days or weeks at a stretch–that I do little to no writing at all. And when I do write during those dark days, rarely do I finish what I start. Sometimes it is not even worth saving, let alone pursuing publication.
These low periods are balanced out by the highs. The months when I am finishing everything I start, while also reading stacks of books every night, multitasking work and home, family-ing, day-job-ing, and rescuing puppies on the side. If I didn’t know so much about bipolar from being married to someone with bipolar, I’d think I was bipolar. But I’m not. I am a victim of the earth’s annual weather cycle in the region that I live. It’s called seasonal affective disorder, and it pretty much rules my writing process.
Does this mean I am not a professional writer? No. It means I have a mental circumstance to work around. My skill is not dependent upon living in an ideal situation, and neither should anyone’s be. But all of our circumstances are different, so each of us must learn how to embrace our own process, and how to not compare it to anyone else’s.
In the chaos, I found order. I found the reason my process works for me.
March/April/May [Read more…]