Tag Archives: depression

When Your Writing Issue Is…

24 Jul

Writing a book—or anything—comes along with a lot of challenges, and sometimes those challenges can feel overwhelming. So here’s a quick tip guide to help you navigate your writing journey.

I have an idea, but now what?

Well, now you write. (And write and write and write again.) Don’t focus on being perfect. Don’t focus on getting published. In fact, don’t spend months studying how to write on blogs like this one. There’s only so much you’re going to learn from reading about writing. You’re going to have to write yourself to learn about yourself and your craft. So, sure, research, but make sure you’re writing…and reading (a lot). Related article: No, Reading is Not an Option

I don’t have time to write.

Listen, no one has time to write. Some of us definitely have more time (or less), but comparing yourself to anyone is not going to get you anywhere. Write when you can and write what you can. Don’t beat yourself up. Just do your best. Related article: Making More Time to Write & Confessions of a Slow Writer

I can’t begin.

So don’t worry about beginning. Start in the middle. Start at the end. Start anywhere that you want to start. When I’m struggling with a story idea, I just hop around in all types of scenes, jot down some ideas, and hop around again. Eventually, it comes together. Embrace the mess. You can fix it later. Related articles: World BuildingNaming Your Characters.

I can’t finish!

Finish. I know that is the worst thing I can say. (Trust me, I do.) But sometimes you have to write the “wrong” ending to learn what the “right” ending is. Another place to look at is your middle. If you’re feeling awkward about the ending, you might have gone “wrong” earlier. Track back and see where you start feeling unsure. Try something new, then finish that. The last chapter is a lot like the first chapter. You’re probably going to change it a lot. That’s okay! Related articles: Writing Quicksand & The Ideal Writing Pace

Extra tip: Remember an issue is just that – an issue. It will be solved. You will overcome it, and you will move forward. Try to keep that in mind.

I’m overwhelmed/depressed/numb to my writing.

Whoa there. Take a step back. Your mental health and well being is more important than getting another 1,000 words down. Granted, I can admit I’m horrible at taking my own advice here. But it’s true. Taking a step back is okay—and necessary sometimes. Related articles: The Lonely Writer & How to Avoid Writer Burnout

OMG. I’m editing?!

An editing process is a lot like a writing process. It is unique to every writer and often every project. I recently wrote an editing series about my process if you’re interested—My Editing Process Starts in my Writing Process, Editing (Rewriting) the First Draft, and Editing the “Final” Draft—but try not to feel overwhelmed or down. Editing is another part of the writing process. You’ll learn to love it. (Or love to hate it.) Either way, try to concentrate on the “love” part.

Someone had the same book idea as me. 😦

Ideas are everywhere. So is inspiration. And then there’s that classic “Everything’s been done before” line. Trust me, you’re going to come in contact with someone who has a similar idea/book/character as you. Sometimes you might even see that book get published (eek) before yours. Don’t. Panic. Your book and you are perfectly okay, because YOU are the unique part of your book. Only you can tell a book like you can. Emphasize what is unique about your story and keep writing. Related article: Writers, Stop Comparing Yourselves

It’s complete! Now what?

Slow down and consider what you want out of your career for this book. Do you want to go traditional? Do you want an agent? Do you want to self-publish? Take your time and research what is best for you and your novel. Don’t be afraid to ask fellow writers for help, guidance, or opinions. We’re all here to help you! General rule: Money always flows toward the author, not away. Never pay an agent or a publisher to publish you or your book. (Oh, and write another book.) Related article: The Emotions of Finishing a Novel & How To Get A Literary Agent

Offer of Rep/Publication

Like I said above, research, research, research. Never sign a contract without fully understanding what you’re getting into. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to turn an offer down, if it isn’t right for you or your book. There will be another one. One piece of advice I love? A bad agent/publisher is worse than no agent/publisher. Oh! And congratulations! You are awesome.

An agent/publisher offers a R&R (Revise and Resubmit)?

First, congrats! Those are pretty rare, and someone likes your work enough to give you a second shot. But don’t jump the gun. If someone gave you an R&R, chances are they gave you some significant feedback to help you revise. Figure out how you feel about that feedback first. Does it match your vision? Are you okay with it? If so, go for it! If not, it’s okay to thank that person and move on.

I’m published! Yay! (But I secretly feel like an imposter)

Feeling like you got “lucky” or don’t deserve to be where you are at is called Imposter Syndrome…and everyone feels it eventually. It sucks, I know, but it normally fades. Hanging out or talking with fellow writers will probably help you feel better here. If not, try any kind of self-care. Read your favorite book. Watch a TV show. Step away. You deserve it!

If you have any issues, feel free to share them below.

I’ll try to give a quick tip to help.

~SAT

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#MondayBlogs: The Mental Health of Writing

11 May

Intro:

Mental health is an important discussion everyone should be familiar with—and in all aspects of culture. For instance, artists as a whole have developed a reputation of having depression and anxiety, but depression isn’t a prerequisite to being an artist, and both sides need to be understood. Today’s guest blogger discusses this topic in great (and personal) detail, and I’m very excited to have Airian Eastman on today. She writes romance, fantasy, and science fiction, but today, she is writing about depression and art. Let’s welcome her!

#MondayBlogs: The Mental Health of Writing

For a long time I have struggled with how much self to put into the novel. I have two beautiful dear friends who passed away, a horrible ex-boyfriend, and a mentally unstable high school bff. I have been told I should write them into stories, two as good characters and the others as villains. I have plans for the villains. I think it is very easy to tear someone down but not as easy to build someone else up.

I have also struggled to get bits of my memory into the writing. Either, it comes off as pure filler with none of the heart and soul, or it ends up reading like a journal. How can this be fixed? How do you take all the good and bad memories, thoughts, and emotions and wrap them up in a bow for your characters to discover and deal with? 

10702204_1508493842734688_1648743245336585906_nI found, for me, this was a two-pronged problem, and I could only become a more successful writer if I fixed both problems, but to fix one meant facing another. The first problem was that I cared way too much about what other people thought about me. The second problem was that I had allowed myself to become an overemotional, miserable person.

First, the second problem. I say I was overemotional and miserable, and this was the case. I found myself a part of the mental health system for the best part of two decades, and at the end of the day, I found out what was wrong with me. Absolutely nothing.

“How can that be?”

I failed to listen to the one person who mattered most, and what caused me to listen to her was a painful hell that turned into a sort of purgatory. To rise out of it could only be done (or undone) by my hand. I, myself, was the one person I failed to listen to, and the only person who could get any semblance of a life back for myself.

Sometimes I do wonder what would have been if I had found this path sooner, but I remind myself I am where I am supposed to be on the journey.

I am not saying that everyone in need of mental health and support can be cured easily, or do not need medication or therapy, but I will caution to be wary of misdiagnosing yourself or others. For me though, it was simply listening to what was in my heart and in my head.

I was overly emotional. I was allowing myself to be small. I was forcing myself into a box of my own creation. In the end I was letting myself down. I was pretending to be happy, playing victim and being miserable, lonely, and sad. I believed that no one could understand my plight and that it was somehow more tragic and important than the other 7 billion people on the planet.

Guess what—I’m not.

The only way I was going to fix problem number one; caring what other people thought about me, was to focus on problem number two. How could I be happy? Did I want to be happy? Doesn’t everyone want to be happy? I think that for thirty years I was content being miserable. I was wallowing in the self-pity of my life. I was dealt a raw deal in many circumstances. My life was full of tragic moments, pain, misery, sorrow. As a child, I dealt with life situations that were outside the scope of my understanding, and I did not always have the tools or help needed to rationalize them.

I was not alone. In my own circle of family we shared in experiences. We went through the same situations and came out in different places. My sister seemed cynical and apathetic. My brother seemed angry and at times demanding. Yet we all faced the same fears together. Slightly different perspectives but that should have helped us.

I started to listen to them talk about what they felt and how they saw a situation, and I realized that I was often the selfish brat that was needing attention. I also felt I was worthless because of this behavior. I thought my family only saw me as a brat and nothing else. I figured the whole world looked at me as a negative person, doubted my ability, and outright hated me. My internal self-image was projected outward. It was not how the world viewed me through their eyes, it was how I THOUGHT the world viewed me through my own eyes. I was full of fear and self-loathing. I didn’t know who I was and how could I figure that out with so much negative thought clouding my judgment.

I began to explore the two things hand in hand. I stopped calling myself stupid, bad, bratty, or depressed. I also did not allow people in my life to cut me down either. Friends who want to keep you where you are and “make” you feel bad about yourself are no friends at all. I stopped giving other people all of me and learned to keep more for myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a healthy way.

I started to focus on the happy emotions. The good feelings. I allowed myself to set big goals knowing I could make anything happen if I put my mind to it. I learned to listen to what I was wanting and how to take care of myself. It worked. My writing has improved and I was able to add scenes into my last book that were straight out of my childhood without giving too much away. It still had the heart, but it no longer felt like I was betraying those I cared about. Instead, I was able to enhance small memories in big ways with just enough fiction to bind them together.

Being a writer does not mean you have to have a tragic past. Bad things did not happen to the best writers just so they could write about it. The best writers learned to use the bad things to enhance their writing, and they did it in a way that worked for them. No two writers are the same no matter how we like to compare them. Be yourself, for better or worse, and figure out what your block is. We all have blocks. Some of us have entire walls of blocks that feel like they would be impossible to scale. It isn’t the case. You can discover who you are as a writer by discovering who you are as a person. It will all fall together when you need it most. Don’t let anything hold you back from the story you feel you were meant to tell!

Bio:

Airian Eastman is from Central New York and draws much of her inspiration for her stories from the places she grew up. She writes romance, fantasy and science fiction, with a love of steampunk and old legends retold. Airian has struggled with depression and often talks about that in her writing in an effort to help others. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two cats. For more visit www.airianeastman.com

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW: The Lonely Writer

14 Jan

#WW: The Lonely Writer

Writing can be lonely. The career often demands hours of solitude – aside from our characters – and while our characters can be very real to us, there are still those days where a living, breathing human being might be nice to talk to. Most of the time, this urge only comes to me when I can’t find the strength to face my characters, and one of those times is right now.

I won’t call it writer’s block. I don’t believe in it. Writer’s block is almost a hysteria to me. But I can admit that I currently have writer’s depression – well, in reality, I think it’s safe to say I am depressed – but calling it writer’s depression allows me to focus on how my sadness affects my writing life.

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Ever since losing my publisher, it has been difficult. It has been hard to face my characters, and for more reasons than one. The main one is the idea of admitting to them that their stories might never be told. After all the work we’ve done together, it’s hard to admit this, even if it’s not entirely for certain. Other issues arise when I think about how I’m truly just talking to myself, even though talking to my characters does not feel that way at all. The strangeness bubbles up when I can admit that I’m okay with sounding crazy, but I’m not quite sure how to tell my characters about all of the changes that have taken place in my life…so, I’ve been avoiding them. It sounds silly, I know, but it feels a lot like not having the energy to visit with friends after you’ve had a rough week. You’re too tired – a bit too sensitive – and you don’t want to take out your emotions on your friends, so you stay home to avoid hurting your friendships.

I don’t want to destroy my characters.

You see, when I go through a rough time, I generally write a lot, but I write new things: a poem, a shiny new plotline, a card, this blog post. I don’t like writing in whatever I was writing in beforehand because my mindset has been altered for the time being, and during this time, I don’t want to accidentally disrupt the flow of a previous manuscript or scene or character. (Because this has happened before.)

It’s entirely insensible, but I understand that this is how my writing style works. On the contrary – if a character gets too demanding (like a best friend who shows up spontaneously to forcibly drag you out of your dungeon of Cheez-Its and blankets and kittens) then, I make a hesitant exception, and I try to listen to them, and this is generally when I realize little details have been missing from the manuscript before. So, I add them, and I slowly crawl out of my writer’s hole, and I pick up a pen, and I try again, and eventually, I know my characters – and my readers – still love me in the same way I still love them, in the undying way I love writing no matter how lonely it gets.

It is simply nice to talk about it with someone sometime.

Thank you for listening,

~SAT

P.S. Because I’m not writing right now, I do have a lot of free time for additional services! I connect authors with book reviewers and interviewers. I edit stories. I even create photos and give advice on social media. (And I like to believe my prices are far beyond fair. Seriously. I buy a Jimmy John’s sandwich for lunch.) Check out the full list of Services right here or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

How Anxiety Influenced my Trilogy

14 Jan

AskDavid.com is featuring Minutes Before Sunset right now. Check out the exclusive description here, and please share! It would really help me out. Thank you.

As promised in my last post – Photography and Writing – today is dedicated to explaining why the photo below is symbolic to my writing life and why I used it to represent my upcoming novel, Seconds Before Sunrise. Hopefully by sharing my story about turning anxiety into art, it will help inspire you to share yours.

What does this have to do with Seconds Before Sunrise?

What does this have to do with Seconds Before Sunrise?

There’s something you should know about me before I start.

In my 22 years of life, I’ve been in six car wrecks. Now, before you judge my driving record, I was only driving in two of them, one was caused by black ice on a bridge and my most recent one happened when I was hit by a drunk driver, which I actually wrote about here.

But the point isn’t about my driving record – it’s actually about what happened afterward. In my first car wreck, I was not driving. The passengers asked the driver to slow down, but he didn’t, and we hit a tree at 80 miles per hour. Now, I want to clarify that I have nothing against this driver, and he’s a good person, so please do not comment on him. I shared those details because, shortly afterward, I developed a high anxiety for anyone else driving me. When I say “high” anxiety, I mean hyperventilation and shaking among other uncontrollable functions, but I was fine as long as I was driving myself…until I was driving back to college in February of 2010. My non-four-wheel-drive, rear-wheel truck did not fair too well on a bridge covered with black ice. I lost control and crashed into a van at 45. I wasn’t injured, but six other cars wrecked while they were cleaning up my car wreck, including one instance where a firefighter almost got pinned against my car.

It was scary – terrifying, really – and after that, I couldn’t feel good behind ANY wheel, especially if it was snowing, icy, raining, or even dark. My body associated bad events with vehicles, but I couldn’t avoid vehicles. The Midwest, as well as most of the places in the United States aside from large cities, is not friendly to transportation via bicycle. (And before you mention buses, those counted as vehicles in my anxiety.)

After four car wrecks, my anxiety was so bad at one point that I almost refused to leave the house in the fear that I would get in another one. While many people get in car wrecks and walk away without a worry (except what to do with a car), I had to be honest with myself: I wasn’t one of those people. I got help, and after a number of months of therapy, my anxiety slowly went down. Now, I can be proud when I drive through downtown KC without so much as a racing heart or lack of breath.

Now, the books – (thanks for staying with me)

The Timely Death Trilogy has more than one car wreck in it, although only one is seen in a flashback in Minutes Before Sunset, while another one from the past is seen through a newspaper article. There’s a reason for this.

You know you want to add it on Goodreads. Click here!

You know you want to add it on Goodreads. Click here!

When writing these books, I had recently experienced my first car wreck that I mentioned previously. I was 15, and I was injured for a while afterward, so the memory was lingering in my physical pain. Because of that, I decided I wanted cars to be a symbol in this trilogy – something that would describe the characters as well as affect the characters’ lives – and you can expect the peak of the symbolism of the car to happen in the next installment of the series, Seconds Before Sunrise

The photo itself is important to book two. If you want some truth, this photo could be a direct viewpoint from Eric Welborn, but if you want the full truth, you’ll have to check out Seconds Before Sunrise (and catch up on Minutes Before Sunset.)

In the end, there are two purposes to this piece:

1. Because I think it’s more important to help people – know it’s okay if you development anxiety and/or depression from a traumatic event, even if others do not label it as traumatic. Just because it didn’t hurt them, does not mean it shouldn’t have hurt you. It’s okay. Talk to understanding family and friends, and get help if you need to. It might take months or even years to feel better, but being proactive about your physical and mental health is worth it.

2.  There might be numerous car wrecks in The Timely Death Trilogy, but each one is symbolic in its own way – just as ones in my real life have become that way to me – and I think there’s a lesson in that. Events will affect everyone differently in the same sense that a story will affect each reader differently. Don’t change events in your story out of the fear that they might seem repetitive or not be good enough for everyone. Tell the story the best way that you can, and trust your readers. They will understand.

~SAT

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