Since I'm one of those weird crowd-loving people and I love asking people what they want me to blog about next, I'll blog this time on the unsightly topic of pulling yourself out of depression to write. Asked by one of my fellow writers. I suppose I have enough credit to talk about this, as writing happened to pull me out of suicidal thoughts and healed me to the point of giving me enough courage to quit my career and start writing full time. I'm even writing my fourth book right now, and it's only been 18 months since I started writing full time. If I could do it, you can do it. Let me spill my history here on how the entire thing transpired and perhaps it'll help you too, if you find yourself in the middle of darkness.
Find a support buddy. This is one of the hardest truths about writing. Without someone to support you, it's really hard to start. You feel heavy like a mountain. The air is too hard to breathe. The bed is impossible to leave. Nothing has color. Happiness is a word that doesn't exist in your universe. It's simply inconceivable to force yourself to start writing. Why? What's the point? You don't care. Heck, this is not your worst problem. You don't care to get dressed or to eat, or you eat so much that you want to puke and don't care to get dressed because you feel too disgusted with yourself to do anything nice for yourself. When you're depressed, you can hardly motivate yourself to start moving toward the light. You need a gentle push by someone, and that someone is your support buddy. Since I was suicidal and in a very bad place, I had to go to therapy. I didn't care for it, but I did it, for my kids, so they would have a sane mom. My therapist suggested I start writing in a journal. My therapist, essentially, became my first support buddy. My boyfriend became my support buddy after that, and still is. The fact that he reads my writing every night keeps me writing. I mean, I would still write, if I were alone. I have conquered my fear enough to do it on my own, but it gives me a tremendous boost knowing that someone wants to read my shit. Also, my readers. Since I started writing, there are people who have come back for more books of mine, a few people even pre-ordered ROSEHEAD, a novel that's not going to be done for another month. I guess my point here is, do you have someone who would be willing to be your support buddy? Because if you don't, it will be awfully hard for you to overcome depression yourself. If you don't have a buddy, want me to be one for you? I will try to ping you as often as I can, or give you a boost, just let me know.
Stick to a very rigid schedule. I've blogged about this again and again and again, and I will mention it again. The way out of darkness is a ladder. You have to lift your leg, take a step, lift another, take another. Step by step, day by day, you will get out of darkness. But you need the ladder. Rigid schedule is your ladder. Here is how I pulled myself out. When I was in a really bad place, I have scheduled my calendar with simple things like "Wake up" and "Brush your teeth" and "Have breakfast". At night it would be "Read a book" and "Go to the bathroom to take a shower" and "Bedtime". I'm serious. You can ask my ex-husband who has helped me tremendously throughout that time. I was so disoriented about life in general, that I had to give myself some sort of an anchor, a firm ladder that I could climb. I have scheduled my writing time and my reading time into the calendar too. I no longer use it. It's been almost 5 years, and I don't need it anymore. But back then I did. I would suspect you need the same, some kind of a system that will force you to do things despite the fact that you feel numb and indifferent. I still battle anxiety and mild bouts of depression almost every day. When I look at my writing and think, this is such shit, why do I even bother? I don't think it's worth anyone's reading time and want to bury my head in pillows and never come out. My schedule pulls me out. I know in my head the things that I need to do. They became habit. That's what you want, your writing to become your habit.
Pick someone for whom you write. If you're trying to write for everyone, you might slide even deeper into depression, because it's impossible. But when you have a specific person in mind, writing becomes telling a story to that person. Maybe there is someone you loved but were never able to say so? Or someone you hate and were never able to express that? Or something else? Whatever it is, I'm sure you have a person in mind whom you would want to tell a story. Imagine that person when you sit down to write. Better, stick that person's photograph on your wall. If it's hard to start writing, start talking to that person and record yourself. Then play back what you said and type it up. It doesn't matter how horrible it looks typed up as opposed to spoken. What you will find, once you start typing it, it will start to flow. All you need is a gentle push to start, that's all. The rest will happen on its own. If you get stuck, stop writing and start talking to that person again. I wrote SIREN SUICIDES like this one huge letter to my father. He sexually and physically abused me, although in his eyes it was normal disciplining, to help me grow up into a decent person, hopefully someone better than my mother. He deemed her a whore, hence he wanted to make me hate sex, at which he almost succeeded. I hated it for most of my life, rediscovering it only after I fully recovered about 3 years ago. In this sense, my trilogy is a letter to him about how I felt, although all sexual abuse context has been removed from it, and it's not my story anymore, it's Ailen's story. I'm using it here as an example, to maybe inspire you to spill your pain too, in a shape of a big big big letter to someone.
Shield yourself from negative people. This is one of the hardest things that I had to do, and I still suffer from not being able to say NO when I need to. When you're depressed, you're in a very vulnerable state. One negative word can make you give up on your writing. I know we all usually laugh at this, saying things like, grow a thick skin or pull yourself together or don't listen to them. But it's hard to do when you're wounded, you don't have enough defenses to protect yourself from negativity, it goes straight to your heart. Stop seeing people who don't believe in you. Don't go places if you have a chance to run into these people. If you have to, become a complete hermit. If somebody doesn't like it, tell those people to fuck off. This is your life, and you're getting close to dying every minute. How you spend it is your business and nobody else's. If someone tells you that you shouldn't write because you suck, don't waste your time to answer. Your dream is to write, so write, and don't let the naysayers sway you. It will take you time to grow a thick skin, and you need a place and time to grow it. Until then, protect yourself! If it means disappearing behind a thick door, do it. If it means reading all day to get yourself in the mood to write for only one hour, do it. Send everyone else to hell.
To close this, I will tell you about my daily battle with my bouts of anxiety or mild depression or whatever you want to call it. I constantly battle this idea that my writing sucks. I'm afraid that I'm getting worse and not better. I get less new followers on Twitter these days and I think I got boring, which is total bullshit and I shouldn't complain, with the amount of followers I have, but it kind of stopped growing last month and is hovering at about 67,230. As of today I'm drastically changing my tweeting habits, because it takes me up to 3 hours of tweeting every day. I think I'm overwhelming people. Also, I can write a whole chapter in 3 hours. So there you have it. I freak out because I think my wit has dried up. Also, I'm not getting as many book sales because the hype about SIREN SUICIDES has died, and I'm not fueling it, although I should. And there is no hype about ROSEHEAD yet as I'm still writing it. I'm still learning how to generate hype. I will try to train myself to spend less time on social media and more time writing, and that makes me scared shitless because I'm afraid I will alienate my followers, of whom many are my readers. Some days I wake up and think, I should give up. There is no point. I suck so much, I'm the worst writer ever. HOW THE FUCK DO YOU GET OUT OF A FUNK LIKE THAT? I'll tell you. The only thing that keeps me going are my faithful readers who are waiting for my next book, and the fact that when I'm writing, when I'm in the zone, nothing else matters. Reality with all of its scary shit is gone, and I soar, I fly, I feel so happy and giddy, as if I turned 5 again and have no care in the world. There. This is as naked as I can get for you, to show you my struggle, to hopefully let you know that you're not alone. Hold on to me. I will keep writing, no matter what, and I will pull you with me, pull you out of your darkness.
I LOVE YOU.