Jason Arnopp @JasonArnopp (Author, scriptwriter. Doctor Who, Sarah Jane, Friday 13th) is working on a book regarding professional (Fiction) writers and Depression. He asked me to contribute. This is what I had to say...
On Writing & Depression: Creative Down-swings
A well-meaning new-found long-lost relative decided to comment on my NaNoWriMo 2011 Facebook entry referring to my struggles to participate because of Major Depression: “truth is I’m strategic…” she wrote. “…the goal is achievable you have to trust yourself to make it happen.” Her sentiments are typical of the simple-minded inspiration porn that I am forced to put up with routinely. My response is always that I do what I can, when I can, but unfortunately more often than not it means struggling immensely to do not very much at all. I give myself pep talks and formulate strategies to try and be productive to no avail.
The greatest irony for me as a writer living with Depression has always been that I get my best ideas and am the most prolific when in a severe down-swing. I find that writing fiction, even Harry Potter fan fiction, is therapeutic in a way that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has never been for me. I even managed to put this into one of my stories with a fan fiction-writing protagonist who proposed that “sometimes fiction serves a purpose in enabling people to live out their fantasies, purge their own demons or perhaps set a standard for themselves. It was only when people confused fantasy with reality that there was a problem.” Self-insertion? I won’t deny it. I’ve learned an awful lot about myself and my illness through writing and making use of my own lived experience (especially post-diagnosis in 2009). This in turn informs others including those who live with it – something still sorely needed to combat the stigma of mental illness. I would also agree that I lose myself in the gloriousness of creation process. This is even more pronounced during manic cycles of insomnia. Perhaps that’s why I have so many epic tales that remain unfinished after starting them nearly a decade ago and have failed to live up to the potential I’ve been told that I have. Depression has impacted every aspect of my life for good or ill, and my interests and ambitions as a professional writer are no exception.
Lisa J. Ellwood
@IconicImagery (Professional Writing & Communications account)
http://www.fanfiction.net/u/598860/NativeMoon (Fan Fiction Writing)