Writing advice for sad people
My name is Deirdre and I don’t mean to brag but I am very sad.
I am also a writer, despite the voice in my head that screams you are not a writer, you are an unemployed weepy blob who has tricked people into paying you for inane ramblings. Maybe you have this voice too.
Aside from being an expert at napping and using panic as an energy source, my skillset also includes being a talented researcher (by which I mean I know how to use The Google machine). Results for writing and depression are pretty much divided into two categories: studies stating that depression makes us more creative, and advice columns telling you how to write when have a mental illness.
Let’s ignore the first batch of results because BLOODY HELL THE TORTURED ARTIST ARCHETYPE JUST WON’T DIE WILL IT, I MEAN GOOD GRIEF, I MAY AS WELL POP A RED NOSE ON MY FACE AND BECOME PAGGLIACI.
The latter confirmed that there are a lot of people in the same boat who are both sad and enjoy writing, so I spent some time reading sad advice columns from sad writers and collated the advice for all of us floating around in this over-emotional dingy.
WRITING TIPS FOR SAD SCRIBES
“Have a space at home that is dedicated solely to writing.”
I write in bed, eating pears and wearing pyjamas. The bed consists of four quilts, five pillows, six crumbs and occasionally a senile cat. Technically a desk exists in the room but it is far too busy maintaining its role as ‘holder of dead plants and dirty coffee mugs’ so I do not wish to bother it.
“Honour your highs.”
Positive feedback makes me highly uncomfortable and gives me a physical reaction that is comparable to being stung by several small bees. I once received an email that was so kind I stopped reading mid-way and threw my phone across the room.
“Learn to say no.”
Assertiveness is a wonderful skill… probably? I’m not sure, I have never really understood it or engaged in it. What I do enjoy when I’m offered work is alternating between frantically accepting too much of it and then completing it in a panicked haze, or frantically accepting too much work only to turn it down later on, confirming I am a huge inconvenience.
“Find a writing buddy.”
You mean actively contact another person to inflict both my weird writing and terrible personality on?! Why on earth would I do that when I could watch another episode of Beverly Hills 90210 and eat cereal for dinner?
“Share your advice.”
The above confessions are exactly that: confessions that I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. But you know what, I reckon it’s OK.
Maybe your self-care looks more like having a cigarette in a bathtub than getting massages. Maybe you haven’t leant how to ignore that critical voice inside your head but you’re learning to notice when it speaks. Maybe you feel utterly miserable some days but there’s a tiny, warm spark inside you that maintains hope.
I reckon it’s OK because you can laugh at yourself. I reckon it’s OK because you know you aren’t the only one. I reckon it’s OK because we are all in this little sad boat together.
Hear more from Deirdre during EWF 2017 at live literary game show Lost the Plot.
She will also be sharing notes on comedy writing at Knock Knock, as part of the National Writers’ Conference, 17-18 June 2017.
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