This article is part of VocaLady Magazine’s ongoing series on mental health for Mental Health Awareness Month which takes place in May.
Even on a good day, writing can be hard. There are many distractions that keep you from accomplishing your goals. It’s easy to procrastinate when you have internet access, chores to do, or people to talk to. However, distractions are not the only thing that can impact your ability to write. The state of your mental health alone can make or break your productivity.
As a writer, there are days when it’s harder for me to writer than others, sometimes due to writer’s block and other times, because I am simply unable. I often joke around and say that “I lost my mojo” but in all honesty, it’s really quite frustrating. I typically have the urge to write and be productive, but then I find myself staring at a blank document, unable to write anything.
I have come to realize that mental health really comes into play here. If you experience anxiety or depressive symptoms your ability to write might be hindered. Depression often causes you to lose interest in things you normally enjoy, or it makes you lose the motivation to partake in those activities. For example, if my mental state is low, the odds are that my productivity will also be low.
Often, I find myself with the urge or need to write but I’ll have no energy to focus on writing. For me, writing requires some semblance of focus and in order to focus I need to have a decent amount of energy. However, if my mental state is low, I will have no energy to focus on being creative — it’s a domino effect. So, when I’m in these low mental states, I find myself doing activities that do not require a specific amount of energy or focus (such as YouTube, watching TV/Netflix, playing low-effort video games, etc.). With those activities, I can keep myself occupied without having to pay attention or overexert myself.
Non-writers or people who don’t experience anxiety or depression will tell people to “stop procrastinating”, “be productive”, or “just write”. These are phrases that are frustrating because it is really not that simple. People procrastinate because they can’t focus. People can’t focus because of distractions or the inability to write (whatever the reason). Perhaps those distracting the writers should stop bothering them. If you keep telling a writer what they should be doing, they can’t focus on writing because they’re focusing on what you’re telling them.
Sometimes people say they’re waiting for inspiration before they write. People often critique writers for saying this but hey, it’s hard. Sometimes you can’t get inspired due to a low mental state.
Here are some tips to help you get back into writing:
Take a long bath if possible, or a hot shower, and ponder on your thoughts. The water will allow you to relax. I use this time to clear my mind of stressors and try to focus on anything I want to write about.
- Listen to music
Sometimes listening to music will get me into the “zone.” If there’s a certain emotion I want to feel or a certain type of energy I want to have, I’ll listen to music until I am able to emulate that feeling in writing. I find that video game soundtracks often work best.
If there’s a specific genre you want to write for, read other books in that genre. You don’t need to emulate a specific author’s style in order to successfully write your theme/genre of choice.
Getting back into writing isn’t as easy as 1, 2, 3 but it can be done with a little TLC.