Depression and Writing

The leader of an online writing group I belong to recently asked the question: What technique(s) do you use to get out of a depressed state?

If you’re a writer who has to deal with frequent depression, you are in good company: Mark Twain, Stephen King, Ann Rice, and J.K. Rowling to name a few.

I think most people would agree that it’s difficult to write, or for that matter do much of anything, when you’re depressed. We all get depressed from time to time. Life has a way of throwing  a curve ball guaranteed to get you down. So what gets you depressed? Your job, your family, other people in general, your mother-in-law?

I can tell you that one thing guaranteed to get me depressed is finishing a writing project which I did several days ago. Sounds strange maybe, but it’s true. It’s a big letdown for me similar to the elation and then depression I experienced after finishing final exams in college.


Yesterday my wife and I went hiking with some friends at our local nature center for Earth Day which was the last thing I felt like doing, but I went anyway. It was a tough hike with some very steep hills to climb and I was sweating and out of breath at times from the exertion. So the end result for me was — depression? what depression? It’s only been 24 hours since finishing my writing project and I’m already feeling the urge to tackle the next one. I couldn’t think of two more wonderful addictions in my life to have than writing and exercise. I can’t do one without the other. I mean that in the most literal sense. If I don’t exercise my writing suffers.

I’ve heard people say that they absolutely love exercising or writers express how much they love the writing process. I’d like to say that I’m that person but the truth is I’m not. I don’t actually like exercising. It’s just something I feel compelled to do because I know I should do it. And writing? The process of writing is work for me and I don’t particularly like working. I’d rather be playing a game, watching a movie or reading a good book.

But what I do like is the end result of doing both of these things. That’s the part that I find really gratifying. Exercise keeps my life in balance and allows me to do the things I enjoy and be better at them than I would be sitting around collecting dust while slouched on a couch. And looking back on having written a satisfying story that has an interesting premise, builds suspense and resolves in a unique way — for me, there’s nothing more pleasing and downright intoxicating than that.

What’s the writing project that I wrapped up? It should be published in about two weeks so I’ll let you know then.

So here’s the question: What’s the first thing you turn to that gets you out of depression?



About Richard Murray

I've been interested in astrophotography for some time now and more recently began writing science fiction. Half a million words plus later, I continue to write every day. I share some of the things I learned along the way as well as some of my writing, plus an occasional astrophoto I’ve taken just for fun on my blog site Fictional Astronomer at .
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2 Responses to Depression and Writing

  1. Annie says:

    Riding my bicycle or taking a walk in the woods. I can feel an almost instant mood change for the better.

  2. Hey, that’s great. My mood change isn’t so instant but it works and that’s the main thing.

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