There are multiple purposes for this blog. First, I'd like to share with you how mental illness can interfere with or enhance the writer's life. Second, I want to explore a more disciplined approach to the writing life. This blog will hold me accountable as I navigate story throughout my battle with mental illness.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Writing Group Success

I’ve been a part of several online writing groups for quite a few years, but there’s nothing quite like sitting in a meeting room, say at your local coffee shop, restaurant, or library, writing and talking about writing. To be about writing, in a Zen sort of way.

That being said - if you are thinking about starting a group, or becoming a part of an established group, you should really define your purpose. It’s easy to get sidetracked with a group of like-minded writers and start talking about the industry, gossip, the upcoming conference, etc. And if that is part of the purpose of the group, all the better. However, in many cases the purpose is to critique each other’s work, discuss craft, or set aside a predetermined amount of time to dive into your work(s) in progress. Therefore, focus is paramount to accomplishing your writing goals and keeping true to the purpose of the group.

When you are with a group of like-minded people, then the work you are doing seems to flow (at least in my experience). It’s like we are rallying together to keep that persistent entity known as writer’s block from fully taking over our mind. Now there are more than one to pick on, and it gets harder for that bully to achieve its master plan.

If you are finding it difficult to get motivated, these physical groups are able to counter that by making you accountable for your work. There is a natural tendency for us to be true to our words. This makes a full out battle with staring at the blank page turn in our favor.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2 Motivating Posts I Found Today

I discovered a few great posts today using google reader that I’d like to share with you.

The first post is a guest post on Inkygirl.com entitled Want To Write? 18 Great Writers & Thinkers Show You How (Guest Post: Julie Duffy). In the post she gently guides us in the endeavor to write using 18 quotes from great writers. 

My favorite was this one by Andre Gide:  “Art begins with resistance - at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.”

As a writer with OCD and ADD, this is perhaps my greatest concern for my own writing. I know it can be difficult for any writer, even seasoned authors.

Another point she makes “Procrastination is exhausting…mentally if your favorite sport is ‘beating myself up about not writing’”.  Then she states that if your writing is “work worth doing” then it is “important for your quality of life and your mental health”.

Julie Fast has authored both traditional books and e-books, mostly about living with bi-polar disorder and depression. This book in particular is essentially about how to get things done when you are depressed. I haven’t read it yet, but I did just order it through Amazon. I will post a review once I have read it. What I ascertain from the interview is that it is not solely about depression and writing, but there is some material covered in it. That was my impetus for purchasing the book.

She says that the book essentially tells that you can’t let depression keep you down, otherwise nothing will ever get done, including writing. I know, easier said than done. But, there is hope. After all, she claims to be depressed 75% of the time, so you have to be extra vigilante to get things done. I haven’t put a figure in how often I’m depressed, but I would wager that it is near that mark. Actually, with what I’m going through now, I’m surprised that I can even write this post. Thank goodness for all the quotes I was able to use! LOL!

Julie goes on to say, “What’s amazing is that I can’t tell the difference between my writing when I’m depressed and my writing when I am well. Now, the process is horrible. The difference between what you’re doing when you are depressed versus when you’re well feels terrible, but the outcome — you can’t tell the difference.”

As a perfectionist, that statement is very encouraging. She admits that even though we may not feel like working, we do have the ability to get it done.  And once you are able to get some writing done, you will reap the satisfaction of having done something. Writing is in itself, its own reward. 

The interview article really is a fascinating read, and well worth anyone’s time. And that can be said for both articles.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writing your way through grief over loss of a relationship

A loss of a relationship can mean many things to many people. It can mean freedom, release of negative emotions and new opportunities. It can also mean grievance so profound that one may feel that they will never get over. Even if you are the one who has initiated the break up.

This is the way it is with my current situation.  My daughter’s mother and I had lived together in a domestic partner relationship for nearly 11 years. Once we moved to another state and city in which we now reside, we decided that we would live in separate apartments. She and my daughter cohabitated with my daughter’s moms best friend. Our relationship, already rocky, seemed to decline from there. The intimacy was lost, even before we moved apart. Over the 3 years that we’ve lived here, I decided that our paths were destined to part. So on Monday, a week and a half ago, I had a talk with her. She was to go to therapy the next day, so I considered the timing advantageous. She was hurt, and kept talking about how we were supposed to become a family again. Then she said some very hurtful things which I can’t talk about here.

Things were OK during the rest of the week, until Sunday. All of a sudden, I had this urge to simply cry, as if I had lost something I will never again recover. For 8 straight hours, I cried in the solitude of my efficiency apartment. I’m sure the upstairs neighbor could have heard me. After that, I took meds to help me sleep, but found I didn’t want to get up the next morning. Not because of the meds, but because I felt too depressed to do anything. Grieving is a mysterious process. She wouldn’t come talk to me until the next day, a Monday. I begged and pleaded for her to forget about what I said. I was desperate to get back what I had so sullenly thrown away. Although, she didn’t take me back, she still knows that I love her, and it was probably the best thing to do. For each of us to have a little space. I began to feel a little better over the course of Tuesday, and now while I’m writing this in my writer’s group I feel like I did initially make the right decision.

I’ve just been to my writing group which is called “mindful writers” and includes meditative writing from the body, mind, and soul. We also meditate at the beginning, which helped clear my mind this week.
I’m also employing “therapeutic writing” to help ease the pain of the loss. I will update as to the process of therapeutic writing and meditation and how it is affecting my mood and how it can help you. I hope the worst is over.