1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is your writing a crutch?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by OurJud, Aug 10, 2016.

    As someone who was diagnosed with clinical depression (or is it bipolar these days?) at 21, I've often wondered what effect it has on my desires and abilities as a writer.

    When my mood is at its lowest and it's all I can do to drag my arse out of bed of a morning, it comes as no real surprise to me that I have neither the desire nor ability to write.

    But the surprising thing I'm learning is that while being moderately depressed (a wish not to socialise, feelings of vulnerability, etc) are proving to be when I'm at my most creative and eager to write, I'm far less inclined to experience these emotions and desires if my head is in a relatively good place.

    It's true to say that the things which help me into a better place, mentally, are the kinds of things which are going to greatly restrict the time I have to write anyway, such as the benefits system insisting I attend a full-time maths & English course because, apparently, it's not OK to sit at home on your arse all day doing nothing.

    Such courses force me into a daily routine, and to socialise and communicate face-to-face with others. I resent them, but they're healthy. My only real concern is that I feel less of a need to write during these times, and I really don't like that one bit.

    Many will already be arguing that this mean I can't possibly have any real desire in the first place, but I know this simply isn't the case. Whatever the catalyst for my desire to write, its power doesn't come from nowhere.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  2. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    I can connect with what you are saying and I think that it's reasonable that it works that way. Think about it. The more one feels burdened by something the more he tends to dream, the more he tends to day-dream. Dreams try to make you connect with your problems (sometimes in a tender way, sometimes in a brutal) so you can face them (or at least acknowledged them) and move on, while day-dreams are the back door to escape from all the routine and repetition of mostly unwanted feelings. They are the escape exit from your everyday troubles or boredom. I don't know if there is something wrong with me (in a clinical sense) but surely I got my mood swings and from time to time they can reach to extremes. Whenever I feel stressed about something, the more I feel like producing something artistic. Be it a writing or a song or whatever. If I fall to my lowest point though, then I feel too exhausted to produce anything and it is so hard snapping out of it.

    Creating something is not an easy thing. You are making something out of nothing. Furthermore, you are the sole person that knows that, meaning that only you are the observer of your work being created. You see it evolve real-time. Until it's done to some extent, so it can be communicated with somebody else, you spend a whole bunch of time stuck in your head, solving problems of how to express what's in there. If what was in there was not so important, I doubt that you would bother communicating it when the process is so demanding. I think that every reason for writing is legit, because what it boils down to is basic communication.

    I tend to do all kinds of random things (or so they seem to others) in order to keep myself in motion, because I know that once I'm down it's much more difficult to stand up. I try not to stay in my comfort zone for too long, because I fear that I might rust without even noticing it. I try not to get addicted to accelerating the pedal of change too much, because I fear that I might lose myself without even noticing it. I do my reality checks from time to time, just to see if what I'm doing is sincere and healthy. Everybody needs a pick-up, an escape door and a way to communicate. The difficult part is finding balance. I'm also still working on that.

    I think that communication is the key though. Making bonds, being acknowledged, getting in contact with people that have some common delights and troubles as you. When keeping it all to yourself, the more you feel disconnected and unfulfilled, the more energy you lose. At some point you got to show the outcome of your struggles. If not, then you simply feel like all of it was just a waste of time. They lose their importance and you lose your passion.

    Keep on doing what you are feeling like doing and don't be afraid to communicate it with the people that are interested in writing and reading. (Something that I've been saying to myself quite often). At least from my experience, whenever I find people that are interested in what I've written, my battery gets recharged and I feel more eager and more focused in what I'm doing. Just one person sometimes, is enough. It is a start. :)
     
  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I only wish I knew people like this. There was one in-law who I had an awful lot in common with and our book and film chats were great, but he's no longer on the scene. I don't even know anyone in the immediate family circle with an interest in literature.

    And now I'm making myself sound like a right Billy No-Mates. That's not the case, it's simply that my interest in books is fairly unique as far as my family goes.

    I live in a part of the world where an interest in books is something to be mocked and ridiculed. People with 'real lives' have more important things to do than wallow in fantasy. There's a quote from a film I once saw that's really stayed with me and sums up the mentality of the people I'm surrounded by - "Depression's for the middle classes. The rest of us have got an early start in the morning." It's a very powerful statement and one I fully understand the meaning of, but it's typical of a society that considers The Arts in general to be a waste of time.

    And none of that has anything to do with my original post... I went off on a tangent there.
     
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  4. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    It just says to me that writing isn't yet a habit for you. You do it when you're 'hungry' to write, but not at other times.

    I think that to meet writing goals, it has to become a 'habit'. You find the time, even on busier days. Maybe it's one hour instead of 3, but you find the time.

    You might write very differently in different moods or different states of mind, but you'd be - writing. And what I do with moods is, I know what sort of mood I need to be in to write certain passages, and I'll pick what to work on based on how I can put that mood to good use.
     
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  5. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know I think you're probably right. Maybe I'm analysing things too much and it IS simply the fact that I no longer have the whole day free to write that prevents me from grabbing an hour or so before bed.

    I'm an extremely selfish person when it comes to my free time, but if I stopped being such a wuss and just opened up my WiP and started writing after I've had my tea, I might just find the desire and ability has been there all the time.
     
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  6. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    I think it's relevant and I get what you mean. How to justify ones feelings when his reasons are not acknowledged? This is the worst feeling of them all in my opinion. How can I put this... Finding resolution is not as direct as a rat race to be wan, but more like suffocating underwater trying to reach the surface. Both struggle for dear life, but one struggles alone and in silence. Do I make any sense?

    Non of my friends and family is interested the least bit in what I'm doing. (That's why I'm here). ;)
    Even the ones that try to understand, do not. So they lose their interest quite fast and I lose my patience and motivation speaking to them about such things quite fast. I keep most of my inspiration to myself and chose to communicate with them upon other subjects. I do not blame them though. I know it's nobody's fault. It's just different mindsets and tastes. (I got time... When I become famous, I'll show' em... :p)
     
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  7. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    You're in Manchester Jud, ever thought of popping across to the 'Monday Night Group' ? They meet once a week, have a pint and discuss their work and other forms of literature. Like minds I reckon.
     
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  8. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    I think it's just got to be a fixed part of your day. And I really believe that when you have one hour rather than all day, you learn how to make it count.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If you want to write, you do need to be selfish with your free time—and don't let everybody else and his brother hack into it all the time.

    I struggled to find time to write when my schedule was all screwed up by work ...which wasn't as predictible as I thought it would be, schedule-wise. Or when social engagements couldn't be avoided. (grrrr....)

    It's not a matter of just plonking yourself down in front of a computer screen, you have to feel settled enough to imagine your scenes, feel your way into your story. Not to mention have stress-free time to think about your story, plan what's going to happen in it, etc. If you're constantly yanked around by somebody else's schedule, it's hard to settle.

    I found it easiest to just go to bed early and get up REALLY early (around 4am) when nobody else wanted me to do anything, nobody was yakking at me, nobody was phoning me, and get my writing done then. It worked really well, and because I went to bed early (between 8 and 9pm) I wasn't losing any sleep. You might want to try playing around with your life schedule a bit. Even if you can only get time on weekends, make sure it doesn't get interfered with (too often.) I think you'll feel happier knowing you've got it, and you'll get comfortable with having it as your own time.
     
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  10. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I must admit to never having heard of it, Seth. If it's in the city centre or close, then it'll very likely be too far for me. I say Manchester in my profile because everyone's heard of it, but I'm actually about 6 miles east of the centre.
     
  11. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    When I was training for sports, no one respected that time. It was 2 hrs out of the day, you would have thought it was 16 hrs, lol. Everyone thought, 'well, you can take JUST ONE DAY off! You can go shopping this once! Go out to dinner this once! Just chill at home once!' Well, no. One just has to say no.
     
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  12. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    It's my goal. But it is so hard! Whatever I try, it doesn't seem to work. How do you do that? I am a night bird by nature (to be sincere). Always have been, but I love sunsets and the energy that comes with it. I tend to sleep after sunrises. I'm jet-lagged by nature I think. And late time (when everyone is sleeping here) is my favorite time to dive into my inspiration. I hear a lot of words of how some writer ended up with a program but it seems so distant. How come so? I am not disrespectful. I am just looking for a betterment myself.
     
  13. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Not to quibble with you, but did you actually try to set your alarm to 4am? I used to think the same way - but that was because I HADN'T TRIED IT! I had just imagined how it would be and given up before trying.

    Once I did try, I discovered that it was no problem at all. I love this quiet time between 4 and 6/7; depending on how early I go to sleep, this dictates when I either stand up, or go back to sleep for one hour. Btw it is 4.30 am where I am sitting. I am writing exactly in this time slot now. And I am a) wide awake, b) completely satisfied to be awake, and c) starting on a new scene.

    Give it a try! :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
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  14. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    I wish I get accustomed to this. For the past 3 months I've been awake until 7am and set to sleep shortly after it. (8am). Right now it's 6.49 in the morning and I'm already drunk. Truth to be told, I don't think that this is a healthy apparatus. I know I'm wrong. It's just hard to break some habits. But I'm using whatever I have. Shit! I'm only complaining again about something that nobody asked me to do so. But these are habits. Damn well hard to break. So this is the reason I'm posting this if it ever makes any sense. I hope I won't regret it afterwards but I do! sincerely think that there is a connection to other writers that might be reading this. Breaking habits are hard. I wish to break them and I wish they would too. Not only as a matter of productivity but also as a matter of well being too.
     
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  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If drinking comes into it, that's another issue, and it will affect your ability to control your rising/bed times a bit ...depending on how alcohol-dependent you've become. However, you can just work on finding some sort of schedule that suits you. One that inspires you. I found that taking an early morning walk helped me focus a lot. The kind of walk where you are familiar with the route so you don't need to think about where you're going ...and if it's early enough you won't have to contend with traffic or meeting people on the street.

    Approaching this another way ...do you have trouble getting time to write when other people aren't bothering you? That was my problem, and I solved it by getting up way before everybody else. I was so eager to write (this was when I was still working at a real job and finishing my first and second drafts) that I resented anybody who took me away from it. Procrastination was NOT a problem for me ...it was the opposite.

    I am no longer working (retired) and my time is more predictible. However, what is not predictible is my alone-time. I am finding it harder to settle in to my writing than I did before. Maybe because I don't have a tight schedule I need to keep to. And also because I feel more pestered on a day to day basis with other people wanting stuff. I can say no, and often do, but it doesn't keep them from interrupting, wanting to yak, etc. My husband, who used to stay in bed quite late in the morning (he had an afternoon/evening job before HE retired) now gets up quite early himself, and then it's yakkity yakkity yak. I've asked him to leave me in peace, but he doesn't understand what the problem is, and doesn't understand what "don't interrupt me please, unless it's really important," actually means. I think what's holding me back at the moment is my lack of control over my writing time—but more than that, it's my 'thinking' time. I'll need to work on finding another approach myself.
     
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  16. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been manic-depressive (or the PC: bi-polar which makes me think of a white bear) since... I really don't know.

    Anyway, routine is the key, most assuredly. But I found the only one that works for me is self-imposed. Set a time, get my arse in that chair and at least stare at the screen... if nothing else.

    I, too, find that having anything else going on in my life makes it harder to write—work, courses, an upcoming trip—they all distract me. With a full time job, I'm completely useless as a writer.

    But if you have the choice to either stay home and write or go out and get into another routine, it'll mean finding discipline on your own. The only advice I have for that is to...
    • set a time, and
    • get your arse in the chair.

    I won't be arguing with you on this one. If I did, I'd be negating the 30-some-odd-year struggle I've gone through myself.

    I wish I could give you more, but I really don't know what else to say except:
    • it ain't easy, and
    • you will find a way.
     
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  17. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes! I've come to believe that daydreaming is a natural reaction to stress. And the worst thing I was ever told by anyone ever was to stop daydreaming. I finally gave in when I was in my late teens and a couple of years later when I realized my mistake, I started trying to reverse it. I've been working on getting the daydreams back ever since; it's a hard door to reopen once it's closed.

    I'm the same way. A couple of weeks ago, I was in the 'manic' state for about four days and they were the most productive days I'd had in a long time. But then came the inevitable descent into depression and my productivity balanced out because I couldn't do a damned thing for almost a week.

    I'm just glad my wife understands all this. She keeps me from going off the deep end until the depression passes and I can get back to work.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
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  18. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm more than familiar with that particular routine. The early hours of the morning used to be my favourite time for writing, but my body just couldn't cope with doing that these days. As a result I'm consistently in bed between midnight and 1am these days, but despite my free time (when I'm not on some course, that is) I find it very difficult to continue writing once I've broken off for my teatime meal around 5:30.

    Yes, I identify with that completely. Some people don't have a choice, I realise that, and I hope they don't find my comment too objectionable.
     
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  19. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I sometimes feel like people think that I think I'm better than they are because I'm an author - when nothing could be further from the truth. So I completely get what you mean.
     
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  20. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I have a spinal injury and some days the pain is so great that I spend the day in bed. As can be expected, chronic pain causes depression and I take two different antidepressants. The one escape that I have when I'm laying in bed is my imagination. So, yes, absolutely, writing is a coping mechanism for me.
     
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