Sunday, January 26, 2014

Beating the Writing Blues

Today, guest writer Claire Fryer shares some tips on how writers can avoid or get out of depression: 

Most professions come with at least some health and safety risks. Although many people wouldn’t immediately associate writing with danger, evidence suggests that it can be a risky business in terms of mental health with rates of depression and anxiety being particularly high among those of us in the writing community. There are many factors thought to contribute to this, including an isolated working environment, irregular pay and consequent financial worries. Not to mention the intense internal pressure that comes with a career in writing, such as self doubt, fear of rejection and the dreaded writer’s block that sometimes engulfs us all.

Depression can be a shattering condition for anyone, but for a writer it can seriously impair their creativity, motivation and sheer ability to write, which will affect their confidence and their career in a vicious cycle. For this reason it is important to stay positive and take action against things that may cause or worsen depression if you want to keep writing. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

Create a healthy work space

Writers spend the majority of their time in their workspace – whether that be an office, a spare room or simply a desk. Because it is generally a sedentary job it is important to make sure that the environment, tools and equipment that you are working with are fit for purpose. Not only will this keep you physically healthy but it can help improve your mood too. Ensure that the area in which you write is well lit – ideally with natural light but if this is not possible opt for full spectrum lighting as this is more like natural sunlight than florescent lighting. 

Keep the font size and resolution on your PC (if you use one) as large and clear as possible to avoid eye strain and maintain a good posture by investing in a good quality, adjustable chair to support the back and arms. Many commercial office blocks now also include green plants in their offices where possible, as not only do they improve the aesthetic appearance of the office but they detoxify the air and increase oxygen too. This makes the air cleaner which will help fend off bugs and germs, as well as keeping you alert and motivated.

Take on extra work

When a writer is caught up in a novel it can be all consuming and highly stressful. Taking on more work and responsibility may not sound like an appealing thought but it can help you gain perspective by taking breaks from your novel whilst still ‘working’ and being productive. This will allow you to have a little distance from such a mammoth task while still honing your craft and building your portfolio. 

Take on extra freelance writing work if possible. Writing for and other content providers often enables you to take on as much or as little work as you can manage, and this ‘no pressure’ approach can be ideal for working around your other commitments at your own pace and earning a little extra income, which will also alleviate any financial concerns. 

Remember that writing often begins as a hobby, so do not lose your love for it. Make time for the areas that excite or interest you even if they aren’t completely relevant to your workload. If you enjoy writing poetry for example then make sure you continue with it even if you are busy.

Take regular breaks

Lack of sunlight, little exercise and bad diet are all factors that can exacerbate low mood, so drag yourself away from your work at regular intervals and go outside! A brisk lunchtime stroll will increase the production of serotonin in the brain, and so your feel-good endorphins will start flowing and leave you pumped up and motivated for an afternoon’s work. 

The beauty of being a writer is that you can pick your own hours. But do try to work to some sort of a schedule that allows you to take time out for breaks and meals. It can be easy to snack at your desk, but maintaining a well balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein-rich meat will not only benefit your physical health but your mental health too.

Seek medical help

Lifestyle tips can go some way to relieving the symptoms of depression, but in all cases it is beneficial to seek professional advice from a counselor or doctor. Cognitive therapy and medication can often be necessary to help fight and manage depression in order to allow to you live a normal life and continue with your career. Be wary of taking any tranquilizers or mood suppressing drugs though as these may harness your creativity without effectively treating your depression.

Utilize support

For anyone suffering from depression, social support from family, friends or support groups can often help alleviate symptoms. Writing can be a very isolating career, and so once again it is important that you remember to take breaks and make the effort to interact with people. Conversation and interaction are proven to boost self esteem, reduce anxiety and consequently leave the sufferer feeling less stigmatized by their condition.

Special thanks to Claire Fryer for sharing this article with Coaching for Writers. I welcome guest writers. If you are a writer and would like to contribute an article offering tips about writing, publishing or marketing books to this blog, contact Brian(at)BrianMoreland(dot)com. Have a great day!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Brian,

    These are amazing tips..thank you for sharing them. I am not a professional writer nor author,, I just have a personal blog, that deals with me sharing my life and offer prayerfully some hope for people like me who suffer from depression, anxiety and other
    I love the Utilize I do feel sometimes more depressed if I stay too long at computer...Thank you again, and much success with your writing!!