Writer's Depression is worse than Writer's Block.

So today was supposed to be a post about Setting, and it might still be, but first I want to relate some thoughts about depression. Now, when I say "depression", I'm not talking about the generic kind you take a pill for (though they share a lot of similarities). What I really mean is the feeling of worthlessness (also known as "suckiness") that many (all) writers worth their salt feel at some point.

In fact, it's the very thing I'm battling with with at the moment. It has been several weeks since I did anything meaningful in my book, and it feels horrible.

Everyone has heard of Writer's Block (when a writer sits down to write and simply can't. It may be lack of ideas or something else unknown even to them). Sometimes it's so hard to get past that writers go days or weeks without writing anything. Writer's Depression is similar, but I think it deserves its own category.

You see, Writer's Depression isn't a lack of ideas, or a bad plot, in fact it may be the opposite. The writer's brain may be brimming with ideas, overflowing into his eyes like greasy sweat. But a million ideas do no good if they seem to have no merit. There come times when you look at your work and all you see is crap. Vomited-up bilge from a sea monster that just ate Justin Bieber. It's literally painful to read what you had done at times like this. You can't help but believe that it's all swill, unworthy to be read by the meanest high school jock. There seems to be a physical force holding you back from placing fingers to the keyboard, and a mental revulsion to looking at the screen.

This can come about from many sources. Some people may be learning to write faster than they can actually, you know, write. They look at the last two chapters and cringe, because they've already surpassed their skill from a week ago. (Yes, this actually happens.) Others may know something is wrong with their story, but not be able to diagnose it. This is especially frustrating, and very easy to become overwhelmed by. Sometimes your plot and scenes (even simple ones) become tangled up so thoroughly in your brain that you just want to throw it all away, then burn the dumpster. Sometimes it's the result of what someone else says (this is especially dangerous). If you have others reading your work (such as a writing group or alpha readers) it can be very easy to let their usually well-intentioned critiques bury deep in your heart like poison-tipped arrows. The most innocent remark about pacing, dialogue, or even your writing's voice can make you want to retreat into your shell and block out the world, because you know, everyone's a bunch of ass-hats. You put yourself into what you wrote dang it, and when your readers inspected it, they found it lacking (those jerks). (This is not the way it should be, but sometimes it is, despite our most logical effort. Remember that your work is not you, and it's not your baby. It is a flawed manuscript that you are responsible for improving. It's hard to see it that way, I know.)

There is no easy way around it, no magical potion to wash away the shame of Writer's Depression. There is a nearly physical pain sometimes in powering through it, and heaps of mental agony. I'm not exaggerating one bit, believe me. It can be worse for those that already have a tendency to get "down" about things in the first place (like me). The only solution is to keep on, persevere, and never give up.The pain of doing so is what separates us from the hipster in a scarf at the coffee shop. Said hipster feels nothing but self-congratulation at the amazing work he will produce, and thus does nothing to learn and improve himself. On the other hand, we who experience Writer's Depression can't go on without re-evaluating ourselves and what we produce. This does eventually lead to higher-quality work.

In conclusion, I suppose my point is this: you aren't alone with your thoughts of word-genocide. As much crap as you think your story is, it probably isn't. Don't kill it, but strive to improve it, and keep your head above water. Sometimes you need to take a break, walk away for a few days, or work on something else like a blog (aha, insight!). You'll come back refreshed, ready to cut the crap out, and write better stuff in.

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