Posts tagged: Writer’s Block and Depression

Do You Have Writer’s Block–Or Are You Depressed?

Angst

Writers' Block

In 1995, I had a huge inner experience in which the plot of a book was injected into my brain in about a second. The experience was accompanied with a full complement of inner lights and special effects visible only to me. Yes, I had just come from a meditation retreat.

I started writing and continued for, oh, maybe, nine or ten years. I wrote flat out every day, quitting only when my shoulders wouldn’t move. I wrote  nine or so volumes of a series (final number of books depends upon how I cut them in the rewrites). I was in a couple of writing groups, working with a book consultant, and editor. I have not had so much fun ever.

My first published book turned out not to be in the series that had come to me so dramatically. In my spare time, I knocked out a nonfiction title.  Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice is a modern spiritual companion. It won six national awards, was a Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist, and got great press.

The first book in my fiction series, Numenon A Tale of Mysticism & Money, came out a couple of years later. Numenon also won six national awards. It’s been out a few years, so its rankings have dropped, but its Kindle version was #1 in three categories of mysticism and way up there in the sales rankings for about a year. (I wish I’d taken a screen shot of its Amazon sale page then . . .)

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money Will the sequel ever appear?

After all this fun and inspiration and wonderful success . . . I fluffed entirely. People were asking for Numenon’s sequel. Getting pretty huffy, in fact.  The sequel is written! It’s on my hard drive! All I had to do was rewrite a 1,300 page, 250,000 word behemoth about God and good and evil and existential anxiety (mine) and a bunch of people from Silicon Valley and American Indians into something people would buy.

I couldn’t. Being quick on the uptake, after a couple of years I realized, “This is writer’s block.”

I understand that Terry Pratchett has said, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”

I’m from California and I want Terry to know that we also invented Silicon Valley and the tech industry and there are probably no more creative and hardworking people on the planet than Californians. I’m a Californian and I had writer’s block.

I used writing therapy to address this, producing one pretty good blog article about the dismal block, and one based on the yogic concept of surrender and letting things bottom out completely.

Unfortunately, despite the vast quantity of helpful advice and positive self-talk they contained, neither article worked. Numenon’s sequel remains unwritten and I remained blocked.

UNTIL I realized I was depressed. As in clinically. Then I read a great article about writer’s block and depression. And even more. I’m going to post some links about the subject, because these writers say it better than I can.

I really like Anne Allen’s blog post above. Most of the articles I looked at presented a million “things to do” to deal with block. (So do my articles above.) The thing is, if you’re depressed these great ideas will do nothing to help you.

You need to treat the depression. That probably requires medical treatment. It did in my case. Depression is a serious, very painful, and possibly fatal medical condition. Treatment is available.

Depression feels like being held under water. You feel rotten. You can’t get above the water; you can’t fight what’s holding you down. All you can do is try to survive. It is associated with a lack of joy in life, lack of interest in pretty much everything, and  writer’s block.

I finally figured our what was wrong with me and got treatment. Is the block gone? Yeah. Have I rewritten the sequel to Numenon? Not yet, but it’s next on the agenda.

I wrote three other books instead of Numenon’s sequel.

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

I had another one of those brain storms in which a book came to me––Bazammo! That book is written and published The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy. What’s it about? It’s a sci-fi, fantasy, love story. It’s won the 2011 IPPY (Independent Press) Award in Visionary Fiction as well as the 2011 Indie Excellence Award in Visionary Fiction. “Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: A teenage boy and angelic intergalactic traveler.”

Your basic pre-apocalyptic love story with more twists than an eel’s tale. It’s also a former economist’s reaction to the Great Recession. The social milieu of the book, a police state, is what I think we could have if we don’t work together and clean up the economic mess.

When I finished The Angel, two sequels throbbed in my brain. The are written and in the editing process. I expect them out in late 2011 or early 2012.

If you handle the real problem, you’ll get the result. Writer’s block is not about laziness or lack of discipline.

Sandy Nathan - National award-winning author

 

Hope this is helpful! Would love to hear from you about the dreaded block.

Sandy Nathan – Here’s my website.
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