Art by Jim Steranko

Working on a new novel and the beginning of a new phase for my writing career. I have to be insane to write another novel. After all, they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result. I guess you could argue that I’m not really doing the SAME thing over and over because I’m writing very different books. But it kinda FEELS the same–like you keep rowing but never really get anywhere. But that is an illusion–and a classic symptom of depression.

So I’m battling depression fueled by a sense of existential futility. I’m supposed to be on vacation–but luckily I’m too poor to take an actual vacation (as usual), so that kinda forces me to stay at home and work on a book. What else am I gonna do?

The problem is that my depression keeps saying “Why bother? You’re wasting your time! Writing is a fool’s game.” Then the other voice in the back of my head says “That’s self-defeating bullshit. Get off your ass and write!” But the bottom line is that I can’t write unless I feel like writing. I have to keep reminding myself that every novel is like this: I start out slow–a chapter per week if that–and I gradually build up speed as the novel progresses. Sometimes I even get up to one-chapter-per-day by the time it’s over.

Art by Bruce Pennington

I think the real secret is just to KEEP GOING. Put your head down, follow your muse, and crank out that novel line by line, scene by scene, chapter by chapter.

Why?

Why does a man climb a mountain?

Because it’s there.

Why does a man write a novel?

Because he’s a fool.

Depression is a bitch. Most writers I know have been affected by it at some point. Some of us have battled depression our entire lives–starting many years before we even heard the word “depression.” I remember as a kid the first time I discovered that people weren’t supposed to be sad and anxious all the time. I was surprised. Doesn’t everybody feel like I feel? And the truth is that everybody gets depressed sometimes–it’s perfectly normal–but it’s those extended bouts of depression that can really make existence difficult.

Depression is antithetical to creativity. Or, to put it another way, creativity kills depression. It’s a great feeling to plant the seed of a creative endeavor (such as a novel) and watch it bloom to fruition under your constant care and hard work. Maybe that’s why my depression doesn’t want me to write–because writing will destroy it. At least for a while…

The problem is that it’s so much easier NOT to write. It’s so much easier to do the wrong than the right thing. The easiest thing in the world to do is fail. Failure requires absolutely no effort, no sacrifice, and no work whatsoever. I guess you could say failure is the “default setting” for humans. We spend our lives battling against failure–or we give into it and watch our lives fade to nothing–first metaphorically, then literally.

Art by Enrich Torres

So the whole point of living seems to be STRUGGLE. Not that we all have an equal struggle–and some struggles go completely unseen by others–but everyone’s got their own cross to bear.

For me, the best defense against depression is creation.

It doesn’t want me to create.

It wants me to give up and die.

I say fuck that.

I choose to live, and I choose to write.

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For more info on dealing with depression visit verywellmind.com