The Myth of Writer’s Depression

Speaking from experience (several bouts of clinical depression), I can guarantee that depression beyond the very mildest level (which makes you just miserable enough to stay home and finish the book rather than go out and have fun) destroys creativity–and that treating depression enhances it. Why? Well, depression doesn’t just make you miserable. When you’re depressed, you have no energy–and writing books takes hard work, which takes energy. When you’re depressed, you find it hard to start new things (like books, chapters, the day’s work), and hard to make decisions (like which book, or which character, or even which way Albert will turn when he leaves the throne room…) When you’re depressed, everything seems futile–you are sure the book will be lousy even if you do write it. When you’re depressed, you have less courage, less resilience, less ability to handle ordinary stressors. So…you can’t summon the energy or the courage to write…every little comment throws you back into your misery…and the next thing you know you’re in the midst of a full-fledged writer’s block.

–Elizabeth Moon, “The Writer and Depression” and author of notable science fiction/fantasy books

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