Writer’s Depression

I’ve been struggling to write these past few weeks. The value I was adding to my writing has diminished significantly over that time, and all I see are the flaws, the lack of eloquence, the adolescent quality.

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I really am a crappy writer.

For years I have struggled with this. My writing lacks depth. At least, that is exactly what I tell myself all the time. It has only been confirmed lately from my lack of publication or even response from publications. Maybe it comes from that dark place called introspection as well.

I have writer’s depression.

I’ve had it for a while now.

The fact is I know that a lot of published writers have had hundreds of rejection letters. I know that rejection is just a part of being a writer, and I generally accept that. I keep all of mine to help me improve. But lately, they have helped to cripple me.

For months I was writing every week, and I felt stronger for it. Then work and exercize and general laziness got in the way. I took a week break that turned into months. Sure, I wrote a few pieces. I joined a competition. I went through the motions of being a writer, but all pieces bar the competition essay, I rated some of my worst work yet.

But week after week I looked at my writing. I compared it to my peers. I reached for their quality, their eloquence, their flawless prose, and I fell short.

I’m not as good a writer as them.

This has only been accented by the fact that I am so utterly happy for them. Some of their work has gone on to be trending in publications and shares across multiple blogs, social media, etc.

They are achieving the success that I so crave. They’re great writers, and I’m just lucky to be able to call them peers.

But it feels like there’s this spotlight on me now to do the same – to be the same (one of my own making, I might add), and I am absolutely frightened that I will never be at that same standard. I will never see publication because my life is too normal – too boring, and my writing is a direct reflection of that.

What if I never was the writer I claimed to be?

The only hope I have is that all this word vomit will help – that it will finally bring me out of my anxious state so I can get back to what I love doing.

I just need to convince myself that it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

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34 thoughts on “Writer’s Depression

  1. Dear Melony,

    I doubt there’s a writer or person out there who can’t echo your thoughts and doubts. I’m in the process of editing and getting ready to send in my third novel. I’ve had three friends helping with the edits. three different POV’s. All helpful. I whacked 5000 words to tighten. Typos galore. As late as last night I was ready to hit Ctrl A, Delete.
    The game of a Comparisons is a dangerous one. It’s easy to fall into it. I know I do. There are books out there winning awards that I don’t think are as good as mine. Or I’ll think what’s wrong with me that my writing’s not on the Times Best Seller list. It’s easy to get depressed.

    The best advice (if you want it) is to be yourself. Keep doing what you’re doing. You don’t have to have an extraordinary life to be an extraordinary writer.

    I hope this helps. If not I’m sending a hug to go with my words.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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    1. Thanks so much, Rochelle! I just need to get out of my own head. The game of comparisons definitely should not be done for these very reasons, but the good news is I feel a lot better now that I got all of that doubt out in the open. 😢

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Melony

    I don’t think I am in a position to give an advice, but what I can definitely do is bring you hope. You are a terrific writer, believe that. Every personal essay has so much depth in it, that when I am writing one, I compare with yours to see if my post got the voice it needed. Your posts always echoes your voice, and it is something that we readers like.

    What I would request you is, continue to believe. Believe that you can be what you want to be. It may just be a little longer, a few more rejections. I am sure you will get where you want to be.

    Good luck!

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    1. Wow, Samra! That’s incredibly humbling to hear. Thank you so much! Funnily enough a lot of my writing has been influenced by all the writers at Yeah Write. We’re such a supportive group. Xoxox

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  3. I know how you feel. I can’t even get the courage to send something off to receive a rejection notice, and work (which pays the rent and gets food on the table) gets in the way all the time. What spare time I have is winding down, not writing.

    What I find really depressing is reading stuff later that I was convinced at the time was as good as War and Peace, only to find out how bad it was and how much work is needed to rewrite it.

    I really like your short stories – you tend to get ideas across quite well and are a lesson in less is more, which I totally struggle with. A couple of stories really stand out.

    Maybe you should try and focus on one story for a while? That is hard – it is so easy to move on to new stuff all the time, whereas dedicating time to one story is ‘boring’ – but they say half of good writing is rewriting something ten times over.

    This year will be my last nanowrimo for precisely this reason. I have enough diversity and want to focus (after this year) on one or two

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    1. Thanks, Pete! That’s how I feel with a number of stories I wrote years ago. There is a good core to them but the writing is just so subpar. I will likely slow down the amount of writing I do to encourage bigger or better pieces. Sometimes it’s just nice to get an idea out and written. This post is certainly helping, though, as it’s helped me voice my fears and work towards releasing them.

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  4. Dear Melony, first of all, I Love how you write! Every single one of your pieces, even this one, has a positive (sometimes underlying) tone to them which I love! I’m in no position to offer you advice, you’re way more skilled at this craft than I am, but I just wanted to send you virtual hugs. Good luck and I think you’re really brave to write this piece!

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  5. Oh gosh. I feel like yiyee writing about me. I’m not sure if you noticed how erratic my submission for yeahwrite has been lately. Its because I have some many posts that are still in draft. I just feel like they’re not good enough. I feel like I’ve lost my mojo.

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    1. Omg. No way! I enjoy all of your pieces. Isn’t it funny how we are our own worst critics? I have so many half finished pieces too. We both should just back ourselves more. πŸ™‚

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  6. Hey Melony, Can understand how you feel .I am probably in a simlar state of m ind. I try to take rejection in good stride, yet at times the rejection affects my writing. My quality seems to be going down.

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    1. You write so very well, though! But I think all writers seem to have these doubts from time to time. I’m just going to keep doing what I do and try to ignore that comparison ghost in my head. ☺

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    1. Thanks, Danielle! It’s so easy to let that darkness overwhelm us all. I will definitely work on ignoring it and doing what I do. Hard to just give it up with all this amazing encouragement. ❀

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  7. Did you approach the competition essay in a different way than you approach your day to day writing practice (practice in the sense of “a doctor’s work is his practice” rather than “practice makes perfect”)?

    One trap that it’s easy to fall into when you are really starting to take your writing seriously is comparing your writing to other people’s and then trying to write the way they would write. That doesn’t actually work; you have to write like *you* write, but… improve that. I know. That’s really vague and I’m sorry. The idea is to take the things you do well and write in ways and on topics that showcase those strengths while avoiding your weaknesses. For example, I just don’t write 5,000 word stories. I can’t for the life of me make a plot arc fit in that space. Shorter or longer is fine, but not that length – which is unfortunately a sweet spot for a lot of magazine submissions. So for me, I need to focus on finding other places to put my writing so that I’m not stuck doing the thing I do worst when I could be doing well somewhere else.

    You talk about being able to see “a good core” to some of your older pieces. That’s great! Now think about ways you can pull that core out and build on it with new work, or even as a process of revising older work.

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    1. It’s funny. I approached the competition essay as a story only two or three people would read as I was originally not going to publish on my blog. It made me just write like I normally write and ignore that voice.

      I definitely fell in that trap, and it’s going to take some time to turn off that voice. Part of what I’m discovering is that my writing is very niche. My creative nonfiction, in particular, shows a tortured past that most want to just ignore. But also are impossible to verify if a publication were to try and fact check.

      Thanks so much, Rowan, for the fantastic advice. I am so grateful for every word of it! 😍

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  8. I don’t think I can say it better than Rowan (hah… there I go comparing)… but …. stop comparing. I know, easier said than done. I was feeling down myself for not making it to round 2, even to the point of seeing who entered the grids this week, seeing it was everyone moving on in the competition, and decided not to enter. But I’ll be back next week. πŸ™‚

    And I love your writing, especially your personal essays.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ellen! I think I’m coming out of that dark place now. It was good just putting it out to the world instead of letting it fester anymore. I’ve been there too, with the NYC Midnight challenges. I tried to not take the rejection to heart but it still stings. I think you should definitely still post your piece. I’m sure many of us will still love it!

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  9. I’ve felt like this too. I have to remind myself that I write because I want to write. I enjoy writing. And I trust that my interest and willingness to improve will propel me onto a stage in which an audience will embrace my writing, warts and all.

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    1. You’re so right, Nate! I write because I love it, and when I’m not writing, I’m miserable. Your writing is so strong and amazing, and I find it so surprising to know you wrestle those same doubts. Obviously, I just have to turn that little voice off too. 😊

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  10. Ah, Melony. As you can see, everyone can relate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped writing entirely. One thing I’ve learned is that when I’m writing, I can’t think about what is going to happen to the piece — I can’t worry about whether people will like it, if it is publishable, etc. — because that sucks all the energy out of me and the writing. Instead, I try to enjoy the experience, the physical tapping on a keyboard or writing by hand on paper, listening for the right words, being surprised by where the story ends. Telling yourself that you suck isn’t going to help. I’ve tried it; it made me sad but didn’t help me write better. Focus on what makes you happy. We love having you here at yeah write.

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    1. Aww, Meg! I can’t even start to tell you how much I love all of you at YW! You’re such a nurturing community.

      I have done this on and off my whole life and I really should learn from the experience. You’re a fantastic writer, and you are sooo right. I think some of my favorite pieces were ones I didn’t even think about. I just wrote what came to mind. I should do more of that too. πŸ™‚

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  11. What you are going through is common among writers. I think we’re a crowd who is particularly prone to depression: we’re sensitive, introspective, and deep-feeling. There is so much meaty substance in what you write. By your reflecting about your depression this deeply, your fears of having nothing interesting in your life to write about need not be believed. And BTW, exercise is never a distraction πŸ™‚ Unless you’re in danger of dying from a sensitive heart condition or are lethally underweight or something like that, exercise is almost always the right choice at any time. I have found it improves my writing. The body must be honored and given its time, and writing should include the life of the body. Writing can become a sedentary trap. But I’ve written some of my best pieces after running or dancing, because my body is getting what it needs, and our brains exist within a body. Also, if you feel the pressure of the spotlight, know that you’re already much further ahead than some writers who worry that it doesn’t matter if they write or not because nobody’s reading. Let your spotlight and readership affirm that your voice is heard and wanted.

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  12. I went through a tough time with my writing and stopped for awhile. I had to remember why I enjoy it in the first place. It’s hard to see others succeed, when we wish we had a drop of their success. All we can do is continue plugging along but have fun along the way!

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    1. I couldn’t agree more, Joanna. The comparison game is a dangerous one. What’s important is to remember why you do it. For me, it’s the enjoyment of it first and foremost . I just needed that reminder. ☺

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by and reading! I definitely agree that writing about your feelings really helps and sending it out into the Internet shows strength. I read your piece and my heart broke for you. I cannot say that my depression is even remotely relevant in comparison to so many others, but I’m happy to hear you have found an outlet to help with yours. ❀

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  13. You are a terrific writer. Keep in mind that there are no bad writers(maybe some not some agreeable ones.) Everyone has a voice that should be heard. It’s only the braves one like yourself that allow it to be shared. We take pride in our work as writer’s because it is an art, and it reveals our soul, which can be scary at times. All we can do is keep expressing our passion, and share our soul to the world. Keep writing! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you so much! We do take a lot of pride in our work. That’s just the natural artist in us all. We are very lucky to live in this day and age where words can be read and consumed so easily. Thank you for your very kind words. They mean a lot to me.

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