Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Pity F. Scott Fitzgerald, a talented Ivy Leaguer who fell in love with a beautiful Southern belle of exceptional creativity and beauty with a terrific name: Zelda.
Their flamboyant life during the Jazz Age–a term Fitzgerald coined himself–served as backdrop to some of the finest writing done during that period. But the toll of trying to pay the bills and keep up with a wife diagnosed with schizophrenia drove Fitzgerald to the brink of emotional breakdown himself.
Depression, in particular, seems to be a frequent problem for writers. Someone told me once “depression is anger turned inwards,” and with a career based in rejection and on the hope of acceptance, writers would seem particularly vulnerable. Among noted writers who struggled with depression were L. M. Montgomery, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf.
Some of the problem may stem from the nature of the job–irregular hours, isolation, lack of exposure to sunlight, little money.
How can writers cope with emotional impediments, days in which just turning on the computer seems like too much? Does the creative gift go hand in hand with emotional imbalance?
For many, like me, the act of writing helps pull us out of the “downer” times. Being able to put into words on paper the feelings coursing through me helps. Often I only figure out what I really feel once it’s written down. Indeed, journaling is a common tool psychologists use to help people to process the good and bad experiences in their lives.
Moderation and balance, along with professional help, can help to stabilize those susceptible to depression or other mental illness. Prayer, a healthy spiritual life and the encouragement of others can go a long way, too. What have you seen work in the lives of creative people to keep them balanced and emotionally healthy?
And before you write anything down, think of five things you’re grateful for.