Thursday, December 27, 2012

Writing and Mental Health

Hey everybody!

I hope you are all having wonderful holidays. And if you’re in the Midwest of the United States, hopefully you aren’t digging out of too much snow.

Before I begin, I want to thank all of you who have helped me improve this site and my facebook account ( (friends are always welcome, by the way).  Everybody has been so incredibly supportive, it’s been amazing. Thank you all very, very much.  If you have any other suggestions or feedback for me, I’m all ears.

I also want to thank zombiestat and adsensewatchdog for visiting so often!  Evidently, I’m a big hit with canines and the living-impaired. Half of my visits come from them.  Thanks!!

Now, over the past couple of posts, I’ve been trying to finish the story about how I was able to get my manuscript published.  But I have a bit of a cold and can’t stay long. So I think I’ll hold off on that for awhile.

Instead, I want to talk about something else.

            As I said in my first blog post, I firmly believe that there’s a high correlation between writing and neurotic personality types.  Whether one causes the other, I don’t know.  Maybe those of us who perceive the world differently are drawn to writing in the hopes of creating imaginary friends or a world that suits our irrational needs.  Maybe years of rejection from publishers and agents make us nuts.  I don’t know.

            At any rate, the other day, I had a nice conversation with a fellow writer who was feeling a bit down about her writing.  She knew that I suffer from depression from time-to-time and asked how I handled the often cruel world of writing.  In a nutshell, this is what I told her.  Perhaps it’ll help some of you.

            I keep trying to remind myself these six things:

1.      I’m not Hemingway, King, Rowlings, Tolkien, or anybody you’ve heard of.  I love writing. And I think I do some fairly good work once in a while—but I’m not brilliant. And that’s okay. I try not to beat myself up over the fact that I’ll never be a bestselling author. It’s okay to be who I am. There’s a place for me on somebody’s shelf.

2.      I make mistakes.  Huge mistakes! Stupid mistakes!! (I once started a manuscript, “It was a dark and windy night….” Thank god I didn’t say “stormy.” I’d have no self-respect left.)  And I will make more mistakes in the future. However, I’ll learn from them and I’ll get better.  I’ll never be Hemingway or Tolkien (see point 1).  But that’s okay.  I’ll keep trying to improve and be whomever I’m supposed to be.

3.      There’ll be pain.  Lots and lots of pain.  Writing is painful. Excruciatingly painful!  More painful than listening to my undergraduates explain why they “deserve” A’s and that I’m not being “fair.” More painful than dating in high school. There’s tons of rejection from publishers and agents.  People will post mean reviews about my work.  It hurts.  But I’ll deal with the pain when it comes and I’ll try not to dwell on it all other times.

4.      First drafts suck. So do the second, third, and tenth drafts.  That’s to be expected.  The fact that I can recognize what sucks is a big improvement from where I was a year ago.  My job as a writer is to see the suckiness and de-suckify what I can.  As they say, writing is rewriting.  I won’t get down on myself because I didn’t get it right the first time…or even the first ten time. (However, by the eleventh time I’m going to start getting really pissed.  I mean, come on! Get it right, damn it!!)

5.      I’m writing for myself.  If other people dig my work, great!  Wonderful!!  I’ll be delirious!!!  In fact, if my book sells more than a hundred copies the first year…I’ll be drunk on success (and whatever $50 in royalties can buy me). But I know I can’t please everybody.  And I’m not going to try.  Some people will hate everything I write (see point 3).  I can change that.

6.      Sometimes I’ll forget.  Sometimes I’ll forget all of these things and get down on myself.  I’ll cry and feel like crap and wonder why I even bother trying to write.  And those moments will pass.  Slowly, maybe.  But they’ll pass and the sun will shine again (unless it’s a dark and windy night…).


  1. Wow, damn, Robert, all of that rings so true. As a writer myself, I face all of those things, day in and day out. But as you said, "I know I can't please everybody. And I'm not going to try." We can only try to be who we are, right? Right?? Or are we completely nuts, delusional, and . . . well, we're writers, right? :D Great post!

    1. Well, I'm glad that I'm not the only one! Hopefully we can all become sane together:)

    2. You know, that whole bit about making mistakes? While I may get annoyed at myself for making mistakes in my writing with being too close to it, I have to remind myself that no one is perfect.

      Really, the best of luck with your book, Robert. I'm working on a short story compilation and a longer story myself currently for self-publication, so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you, Kimberly and myself.

      Again, the best of luck.