1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    How can writing a depressing book when you're depressed be a good thing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Dec 26, 2011.

    Somewhere in the 'Not Happy' thread, I shared that my attempt at writing a depressed, disgruntled man left me depressed and one of the posters mentioned that it was a good thing.

    I'm not depressed anymore (it was a while back and only lasted a few hours), but I'm curious: How would writing a depressing book when you're depressed be good? Is it because you're then more realistically able to protray a depressed person? Or is it just to help expell the feelings inside?

    Again, I'm just curious. Seems to me that if you're already in a foul mood, wouldn't writing about a character who suffers from depression only compound it?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I think writing in general is very good for you psychologically, no matter what you're feeling. During the more challenging semesters at uni, I have insomnia. One way I deal with it is writing before sleeping.

    In terms of depression, I couldn't tell you for sure, but I'd still bet that it is a form of therapy. Sure, you're writing about a depressed person, but it is a catharsis (purging of emotion) for the writer.... Who knows, just my thoughts on the subject :)
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four when he was sick and dying. Didn't really do him any harm.
     
  4. pumpkin
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    pumpkin New Member

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    I think you hit it with "help expell the feelings inside" if you can project your thoughts and feelings into a character on a page, or even if its first person, onto a page, then its sort of subconsciously lifting the feelings and thoughts up off your own shoulders and placing them into an external "bank" of sorts. Cathartic/therapeutic I believe. A lot of the greatest music of our time has come from troubled or disturbed individuals or groups, the same can be said with books and authors.
     
  5. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Maybe you should alter your thinking as you just described empathy. Portraying a depressed man then feeling depression means you took some of his burden upon yourself - you got into his character, you felt for him. That definitely is a good thing.
     
  6. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    I think it would have the opposite effect. I think it would make you feel better. Especially that you achieved something. i f you want to write it then write it. You might want to visit mental illness sites (with the upmost RESPECT please) to read what people with real depression go through. Sorry, but you don't have depression for a few hours. You can feel depressed short term, but it's not an illness. There is a difference between being sad and unhappy and being depressed. Decide which your character is. I suggest sad and unhappy and maybe a bit bitter and disappointed about his life.
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yeah, that seems more like him.

    Um, sorry if I offended when I said I was depressed. I should've said 'unhappy' for a few hours.
     
  8. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    I always thought of it as one of those, "Two negatives makes a positive" sort of things. From an outsider's view, it wouldn't seem to be a good thing. I mean, what is writing going to do to improve your feelings (Not my own opinion)? From an internal view, though, it probably helps with a form of self-expression. Instead of feeling depressed on the inside, you write a depressing story and it now exists only on the outside, like expelling the negativity from yourself.
     
  9. Jethelin
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    Jethelin Member

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    I actually love getting into the same mood as what my story is in. It helps me get into it and be more descriptive and creative. Sure it could count as depression, but it is a kind of creative one that I recover from soon after the story changes or after I stop writing. It is a good thing for me, and definitely can be in many ways. Getting depressed while writing depressing stuff without being able to recover quickly would be unhealthy. It does not feel like real depression anyway. Though if I'm having a bad day and my characters are having a bad day I can sometimes write about it better. It's only a bad thing when it cant be controlled.
     
  10. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Sure it did not do him any harm but it does tell you a lot about his mental state.
    I am guessing that perhaps he was not a very happy soul.
    Will go and check it out now...
     
  11. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I don't write miserable and depressing stuff.
    There is enough misery to go around in real life to want to go and take that over in my writing.
    Reading is a form of escapism and nurturing at the same time.
    I am great believe that if you read something cheerfull you begin to feel better about yourself and the world in general.
    There is enough grim around so why would I want to put that to paper to make my reader feel even more grimmer.
    It is not my job nor m y duty to profile grimness and dullness in a book.
    I enjoy writing enthusiastic clever and witty literature because I feel it is important to project that into people's lives and hearts if you like.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Orwell, or rather: Blair, the man was very drab and sober, but he could enjoy himself. Despite this however, he never had a steady job, never a steady publisher, nearly always poor, and sickly, and he taken the very unpopular position of being an Anti-Stalin socialist. He knew he had enemies smarter than himself, and he wasn't a genius, he was a man of really average intelligence, but that never stopped him fighting; and now that we can take a step back from the twentieth century and look, it's clear that Orwell won.

    The fact that Orwell was not a genius is, I think, one of the best things about him.
     
  13. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    That I do not know.
    I am not an Orwell fan.
    I could not help but notice how these subtexts in his books
    are all here present with us today like
    the Minsitry of Defence/Justice/law
    and even goes to
    the Ministry of Sound/Music..
     
  14. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    ... what?

    You are mocking me, aren't you.
     
  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Speaking of all that, the story is set in 1950s America around the age of McCarthyism. Just thought I'd toss that out. 8D

    Oh, and no one mocks Lemmy.

    Getting back to the subject at hand:

    I think this story is a more Noire-like story (Yes, I was inspired to write it thanks to L.A. Noire). Thought I'd mix things up a bit and make the protagonist a diner owner rather than a disgraced police officer. Hey, it's no insaner than any of my other mystery ideas where the protagonists are college students in Modern times or young tavern boys in Colonial times.
     
  16. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say so.

    Agreed.

    Uhh, you kind of have to write about miserable and depressing stuff. If your characters have nothing to overcome then it's all just happyhappyhappy and that's pretty boring. And to be honest, if I was unhappy and reading about how this character and that character was having such a wonderful life then it'd just upset me more.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it can be a 'good thing' only as a catharsis, if it's mirroring what's wrong in your own life... but it's usually very helpful on a personal level, if not writing career-wise...
     
  18. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Uhh...no not me.
    As I said I don't do boring depressing sorry.
    .
    I am sorry I don't get you.
    How can something nice upset you??!!:confused:
     
  19. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    No of course not.
    Why is that mocking?
     
  20. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I guess it differs from people to people. Some who are upset need to read a happy book to get into that cheerful mood again. Others feel it better to read about fictional characters in depressing situations as they won't feel like they're alone in their mood.
     
  21. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Funny you say but it never crossed my mind that anyone needs to share their depression or moods with others.
    I see it more of a personal experience and the best way to get over it is to grab a happy book to help you.
    I never think of reaching out for a depressing book to feel even more sorry for myself.
    It is the opposite. I read light and cheerfull to cheer myself up hence my writing is a happy go lucky mood too.
     
  22. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Link's point is very valid though. In depression, one of the major feelings is of loneliness, and one of the best ways to pull yourself out of that is to realise that you are not the only person experiencing the pain. When you come across a character who has that same depression, it can go to show you that someone else knows how you feel.

    If you just grab something happy, it can send you deeper into depression because it can make you feel even more alone.
     
  23. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure I would agree with the first. Of course, I guess it makes a difference if we're talking about a 'down mood' versus actual depression. If I'm just down, yeah, reading about someone else in the same boat acts as a sort of vicarious venting; reading about a happy thing just makes me gag. When in an actual depressive episode, that feeling of empathy (or not being the only one) means diddly squat. At that point, I could care less about other people. My own problems are mammoth enough.
     
  24. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    If you want to write an accurate description of someone in the grips of a major depression often a little distance is needed. You end up writing depressed, rather than writing about depression.
     
  25. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I think there is also thet element of writint the truth about bad moods or depressing stuff is.
    I mean someone who does carry these down feelings often will find it rather difficult to write about it.
    One can only write what they know.
     

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