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  1. #1

    Default Lesson 3: Writers and Insanity

    Butthere's a downside this otherwise idyllic, emotionally healthy life we lead.>>

    Creativepeople in general tend to suffer from more mental illness, including depressionand substance abuse, than the population at large. (Edgar Allen Poe, Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway,Virginia Woolf off the top of my head.) One study showed that creative people tend to have more blood relativeswho are institutionalized. >>

    Noone is really sure whether writing and painting lead to insanity, or whethermentally unstable people are drawn to creative endeavors. One theory suggests that people with mentalillness are drawn to creative outlets as a form of self-therapy. (This is whatI personally believe)>>

    Atany rate, lots of writers either suffer from depression, which suppresses your immunesystem and causes illness, or are obsessive-compulsives, which causes stress,anxiety, and all their related health problems. An astounding number of writers I know personally are either on Prozac,Zoloft, Paxil, Xanax, Atavan, Valium, you name it. (I remember the moment I discovered my entirecritique group had psychotropic pharmacies in their handbags.)>>
    Thesedrugs can be life-savers, literally, and please make no decisions about yourmedications based on what I say, as I am not a qualified medicalprofessional. But be aware that drugscan have a noticeable effect on your creativity. (LSD might have contributed mightily to somepsychedelic rock masterpieces, but I don't recommend it!) Drugs can also produce a negative effect onyour writing. Anti-depressants, inparticular, tend to flatten your mood. So while you get rid of the suicidal tendencies and the hystericalcrying jags, you also get rid of the highs. When I was on Zoloft, I couldn't write worth beans. I lost my edge, my passion, and a lot of mymotivation for writing. There was no"creative high.">>

    That'snot a very attractive choice, between depression and an inability towrite. Because if you're a writer, ifyou're one of those people compelled to write, then NOT WRITING can make youdepressed.>>

    Sowhatever your frame of mind you're in, keep writing to maintain your mentalhealth, even if you're not feeling particularly motivated or inspired. I know sometimes life gets in the way. Illness, death, mandatory overtime, movingacross the country, family obligations all can cut into your writing time. And especially if you're not published or ifyou don't depend on your writing income for your livelihood, it's very easy toput it on the list of "frivolous, non-essential activities" andthrust it aside in favor of laundry.>>

    ButI really urge you not to do that. Nomatter what is going on in your life, you have the right to pursue a creativeactivity that fulfills you. I'm notsaying you shut yourself away for days at a time and ignore your family incrisis. I'm saying you can find an hourSOMEWHERE in your day to write, and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. (I could do a whole workshop on guilt'sdetrimental effects.)>>

    Ifyou're waiting for your life to "settle down" before you write,forget it, it's not going to happen. Youcan actually write your way through a crisis. I know some writers that use their writing time as therapy, as an escapewhen life gets just too grisly. You needthat time. Give yourself permission totake it. Overall you'll experience lessstress and anxiety and a healthier body.>>

    Thereare some natural ways to combat depression, including sunlight, regularexercise, talk therapy, getting good quality sleep. Although I no longer take Zoloft, I stillhave mild depressive episodes and I know these things help me.>>

    Tomorrowwe'll discuss positive and negative imagery associated with writing.>>
  2. Laurean's Avatar
    Reading: Eugenia Price's "Bright Captivity"
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    #2

    Post Scary! This connection between depression/mental illness and writers

    Kara, I can't say that I'm overly surprised to learn about the mental illness connection. What I've figured out on my own is that creativity and organizational ability are oxy-morons. Very few creative people keep a clutter-free home or desk. Lol. And though I feel remorse for not being tidier, I know I wouldn't sacrifice my writing time for it.

    Anybody else agree??? I'd love to hear other opinions.

    Or maybe you are the one in a hundred who has both qualities--creativity AND organization. I'd LOVE to know how you do it.

    I keep praying for God to give me the gift of organization, but not at the expense of creativity. Maybe what I'm asking is impossible. Hm-mm.

    As a teen I wrote to vent anger, frustration, emotional pain. Sometimes it was poetry about unrequited love. I had a crush on a senior with I was a freshmen. He didn't even know I existed. But... several poems came from that heart-wrenching time.
  3. #3

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    Laurean--
    Count me among the disorganized. The sad thing is, I have such a strong desire to be organized, but no ability. I have piles of stuff everywhere. And the fact that I am slowly renovating my fixer upper does not help. I don't even have a proper office at the moment. I do know one writer who is super neat and organized. She ruthlessly throws stuff out. Her office, car, even her clothes are always neat as a pin. I would love to be like that.

    Kara
  4. TianaDawn's Avatar
    Reading: Wanted: Undead or Alive
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    #4

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    Kara,

    It does not surprise me that Creative People are as my mother puts it "High Strung." She would be the one to know, and the reason I refuse to let life get me down.

    I take the time even when I am writing for what I call "me" time, Whether it's a hot bubble bath and a new book (I can normally read almost any book in a few hours) or It's grabbing my writing bag, and getting out of town for the afternoon, The beach is an hour away, when I was younger it was the mountains. Sometimes I just need to soak up some sun, breath in the fresh air, and let the muse take me where she floats.

    It's funny you should mention Hemingway... I would love to know everyone's opinion... given that people claim he wrote his best work under The Influence of The Green Fairy (Absinthe- a bitter and often hallucinatory drink). Is it Wrong to use your weaknesses to get your best work?

    Laurean,

    Creativity and Organization don't go hand in hand for me. However, I took a class, it was a basic computer class, several years ago, and it taught me a couple of things that help me. I tend to write/edit/revise/rewrite by hand, so I end up with printout on top of printout, (I'm so sorry dear trees, does it count that I use recycled paper, and recycle?) of my work. I can honestly say my desk is the cleanest place in the house (shame on me,) and that I have the most understanding family, because he doesn't complain when dinner is burnt or slightly crunchy because I had a light-bulb moment, and just had to go write it down, and understands why I forget to cook dinner until 9PM or later, or am yawning into my coffee because I wrote through the night.

    However my point is this,

    Folder
    ~~Sub-folder
    ~~~~Sub-Sub-Folder

    I found that by organizing my writing, and my notes like an outline, it kept me better organized.

    Think of it like doing laundry, you sort your clothes by type or color.

    I sort my writing...

    Work
    --Archive
    ----Poetry
    ----novels
    ------SD
    --------Research
    --------Drafts
    --------notes
    ------DS
    ------LMA
    ----Short Stories
    ------Paranormal
    ------Suspense
    ----Series
    ------Series 1-A4H
    ------Series 2-SS
    ----WIP
    ------1
    --------Research
    --------Notes
    --------Drafts
    ------2
    ------3

    etc.

    Now that is a scaled down example, but I find it keeps me from having Ten billion duplicate files on my computer. Great conversation Ladies! Sorry I was a little late getting in here.

    ~Tiana~

    Falling In Love... One Story At A Time!
    Dreams Do Come True... Only If You Want Them To!
    Tiana Dawn
  5. #5

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    Tiana--
    On the computer, my books are very organized. I have a folder for fiction, then folders for each line of books I write for (Americans, Supers, ST books) then a folder for each title. I usually have only about three versions of each manuscript in each folder. Another folder for "Scripts" and a separate folder for each script. I keep query letters in the folder with the book, and synopses of various lengths. I also have a Wiki page for each book, or series of books (Like I have a Project Justice wiki which is my "bible" with all character names, descriptions, history, a timeline etc.). I also have an excel spreadsheet to keep track of submissions and rejections. I almost never print anything out anymore, everything is done online.

    But everything else about my life is very disorganized and cluttered. I have many crafts and hobbies and I sell vintage items online, and it's just all piled around everywhere! It does not help that we downsized to a house half as big as the old one, LOL!

    I do not think it's a good idea to use a weakness or an addiction as an excuse to write. Just not worth it, IMO. (Although I do confess to sometimes drinking a glass of wine before writing a love scene, which is sort of the same thing, so maybe I'm a hypocrite, LOL!)

    Kara
  6. Laurean's Avatar
    Reading: Eugenia Price's "Bright Captivity"
    Just Finished Reading: Gosh! I can't remember. Been on "Bright Captivity" forever, it seems.
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    #6

    Yeah

    Tiana, Great advice. I need to take a few tips for you. I think once I make those folders I'll use them to my advantage. It's trying to figure what label to put on each folder that sends me into a tailspin. LOL.

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