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6 Tips for Writing When You're Depressed

Julia is a freelance writer, reader and blogger, and she'd graduated from a London university with a Creative Writing degree in 2015.

Depression sucks the life out of you. I know. I'm here, doing my best to fight it every day, and I know many young people who struggle with it too. And the worst thing about it is losing the motivation to do the things you love. Most of the time I'm too tired to write or paint. Other times, I just don't see the point of it.
But you guys already know what it's like, so I'm here to share some tips that have helped me with writing in the past. They're things that you can do that will inspire you to write, or things that you can write about that will get things going and hopefully motivate you to write even more. Let's get right to it.


1. Write About Your Feelings

Those of you who don't write in journals and are solely focused on fiction might not know that writing about your feelings can actually ease your depressive episodes. I still remember one hopeless day when I opened a Word document and started writing in big angry letters about how horrible I was feeling. The very act of releasing these words has helped me tremendously. Even if I was talking to no one in particular, at least it wasn't all boiling in my mind anymore, and I wasn't the sole organism holding all these emotions. If that doesn't sound like enough, having an anonymous blog can also help you release a lot of pain. That way your words will be out there in the world, and no longer trapped in the cage of your mind where you're your only audience.

2. Write Whatever Comes to Mind

Sometimes, writing whatever comes to mind can unlock your mental barriers, and things will start to flow. But even if they don't, so what? Even if you have written only one sentence, that's something to be proud of. Write what you see. Write down a random thought. Write from the point of view of your cat. Write what your tea tasted like this morning. Simply write whatever nonsense comes to your mind, and be proud of it, because you have achieved something. And if it doesn't work, then write down questions. Whatever questions come to your mind, whatever you were always curious about or wanted to learn, write it with a question mark. It will encourage you to think, and maybe, even, to act. On the days where I don't feel like writing at all, I make myself a promise to research one topic of interest. You'd be surprised how many times I used the information I learned later on in my writing.


3. Watch a Movie

This one is pretty basic. People who live with depression experience many low-energy days, and simply thinking about writing a story isn't enough to motivate us. We need stronger stimuli. We need emotion, we need music, visuals, we need passionate dialogue. We need to experience the creativity itself to feel impacted enough to act. When I was writing a story based on Greek mythology, I often went to watch movies about the same subject, like Wrath of the Titans, or Immortals. They might not be the greatest movies out there, but some specific scenes were enough to inspire me, even if just for a moment. But a single moment is enough to write down an idea or a dialogue line that will later blossom into something much bigger on one of your good days.

4. Play a Role

One of the first original characters I've ever created was a girl called Nina, and she's the only character that I've kept crafting and developing throughout the years even though I am not presently writing any stories about her. Why? Because she is my role model - and that was the very first thought behind creating her all those years ago. Nina is everything I aspire to be. Strong. Confident in the right ways, but kind too. Bold when the situation requires it. Not afraid to get what she wants. Flawed too, but that's everyone. If she weren't flawed, I don't think I would ever find her fascinating. So when I feel hopeless, and don't want to get out of bed, I think of her. I think that if she had a bad day, she would still get up and do her job. So it's what I do too. I get up. I imagine I'm her for the day. Finding a character to inspire you like this can make a huge difference in your life, and it can be just enough to help you make that first step. Find a character in your story that you really love, and try imagine being in their skin, and you might very well end up actually writing about them.


Finding a character to inspire you like this can make a huge difference in your life, and it can be just enough to help you make that first step.

5. Get Some Rest

Depression, anxiety, panic attacks steal a lot of your daily energy. They're an illness, and it's important that you recognise them as such. When you have the flu, you don't go around working, writing, drawing, and you don't think badly of yourself, because you understand it's important to let your body recover. You stay in bed and drink lots of tea. That's why it's essential to understand that a mental illness is still an illness like any other and it still needs recovery time. So you don't write today. You take a shower, you wrap yourself in a robe, and you tell yourself you deserve rest. You eat something sweet and full of calories, and remind yourself that you are only human. Even the most talented people need rest from being creative, and some time to focus on themselves.

6. Write About What You're Grateful For

As cliche as it is, it does help. Any exercise that helps you focus on positives helps. Even if you're in your darkest pit, and everything is black around you, try to find one thing you're grateful for that day. Or one thing you like about yourself. Those are things that need to be cherished and remembered, and we spend too little time thinking about how things should be instead of focusing on the good things we have now. And trust me that whatever lifts your moods, even if just a little, is worth doing.


I hope you find this at least a bit helpful, guys. In the end, I'm not a doctor and I'm simply sharing my own experiences with you. These are the things that have helped me personally, and I hope they can help you too. If anything, I'm still learning how to handle creative blocks myself. The most important thing is that you recognise even the smallest of victories and that you push forward.

© 2018 Julia Skowronska