I saw a number of posts last month about writing and depression, or writing your way out of bad places even if you weren’t actually depressed.  Lots of comments about friends who’d lost their jobs and thrown themselves into crafts and so on.

That’s been my experience too.  I was very grateful for your support last September when I confessed about my depression (which is still being held at bay, surprisingly, given a stack of things going on at present), but I was talking to someone about writing and whether I still painted, and I said no.

I used to paint when I was on holiday.  Paint and read.  My favourite thing was to take my pastels and go off somewhere and paint the scenery.  I didn’t have a camera at the time, so maybe it was my way of doing souvenirs. Certainly I have (or had, since I cleared some out when I moved) a range of scenes of foreign parts (and other parts of the UK), some of which are framed and hang on my walls.  One job I had, I lived in a bedsit during the week and came home at weekends; it wasn’t the easiest place to work and I have a few quite good pieces I did in the evenings to help me let off steam.  The focus on a creative project really helps the mind relax, and restore one’s sense of self, I think.

I knew I wasn’t the only one, since our art society was full of people who had retired, voluntarily or not – and most of the younger ones were in the ‘not’ category and might be just looking for another opportunity but up against the age barriers. jemima-paperbacks I remember one guy in particular who really threw himself into his artwork, and he was fabulous, really wonderful creations.  He said he’d never done anything like it until he’d been made redundant, and it helped him keep his sanity.  I have one of his pieces, and examples by the many friends I made through that club, in my room behind me now – in case you ever wonder about the group of paintings in some of my ‘at the computer’ photos.

So why don’t I paint now?  I haven’t got time.  I think the writing has taken the place of painting as my creative outlet.  Maybe, like my painting, I’m kidding myself as to whether it’s any good.  In fact, as with my painting, some of the early writing is probably perfectly okay, very nice, then it becomes more experimental, and sometimes it might turn out to be rubbish, but maybe if I keep at it long enough it’ll turn out well.  Thinking that through some more, maybe I ought to put more time between writing something and publishing it, even on the blog.  Or does the immediacy of the flash fiction forgive the pieces that don’t work?  Does it help me learn?

Musing on this issue made me wonder whether I’m currently in a spell of writing as an antidote to the other things going on in my/the world over which I have no control.  Well, if it staves off depression, I’d better just keep writing.  And learn from the process instead of expecting it to be perfect every time.  Although I found it impossible to write creatively when in the first stages of grieving this weekend.  I think I’m moving forward with that, though.

Whatever you find helps you to be creative – keep doing it!

Now find out what the rest of the Support Group is doing – click here!

PS  If you remember a few months ago I was upset that some trolls had given me 1 star on all my Goodreads books – well, I’m delighted to see they’ve mostly disappeared (the 1 star ratings from trolls, that is).  Relief!

Next month’s IWSG will be in the A to Z Challenge.  Not sure how I’ll incorporate it, but I’ll try.

#IWSG – Creativity and trauma
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22 thoughts on “#IWSG – Creativity and trauma

  • 2 March, 2016 at 7:48 am

    I wish I had your talent for writing Jemima. It must be very satisfying to see your books lining up.
    If it helps you have peace of mind too, even better.
    Ignore the trolls, they are jealous because they are unable to write a book. ☺

    • 2 March, 2016 at 10:49 am

      Thanks, Julie. I think it’s persistence rather than talent, or that 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration thing! But yes, it’s amazing to see the books listed on my author pages, and even better to see them on my shelves now I do them all in paperback. Of course, it would be better if I got them out to bookshops’ shelves, but that’s another step to take.

  • 2 March, 2016 at 8:14 am

    I’m so glad to hear you have a way to avoid the depression that can sometimes catch you on the back foot. With all that can happen in the world, and frequently does.it’s great if you have some kind of creative urge that can take over for a while. Judging by the sea picture you have in the post you’re a very good artist though I’m able to say that about your writing to except that doesn’t need a canvas.
    I hope you bear up well during this week and can enjoy a happy weekend.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • 2 March, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Thanks, David. Thanks to my doc suggesting Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which is akin to a technique I learnt about when I was a training manager, I am more aware of the triggers, and I’m holding them at the front of my mind instead of denying them. So I can allow myself to feel bad about things, instead of ignoring it and wondering why I feel bad, if you see what I mean.

      I’m also starting to delete all the Facebook messages/posts about Trump and Brexit. Things to be genuinely scared/depressed about. Those I really should ignore!

  • 2 March, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    I think you are very level-headed about all this (including your above comment about deleting political stuff!). You set me to thing about why I seldom do any painting now, and I think it’s much the same (except that your painting is about a hundred times better than mine). But I also have read enough that suggests it’s good to do creative things for which you have no expectations to think I should play with it more.

    As for distance, I work a lot of it into my book process, but I think part of the point of flash fiction is speed and ephemeralness (I think I made that word up). You never put anything out that has not been carefully edited, as far as I can tell. One thing I love about flash is that I can play with genres and styles without a big commitment, and that’s worthwhile–and something I would be less likely to do if I tried to spend tons of time on it.

    • 3 March, 2016 at 11:06 am

      It’s usually only edited for typos, wrong words, and to fit into the word count. I learn a lot from fitting things into word counts 🙂

      • 3 March, 2016 at 6:28 pm

        I’m prone to use to many words, so the FF word count limits are excellent training at pruning things to the essentials. I seldom change the story much from first draft, but I do tighten and adjust and certainly clean up the prose.

  • 3 March, 2016 at 12:14 am

    I’m glad the writing keeps the depression at bay. I used to draw a lot when I was younger, but not so much any more. Like you, writing has taken the place of drawing.

    • 3 March, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Sorry to read about your toes, Patricia – take it easy for a bit, eh?

  • 3 March, 2016 at 1:46 am

    The creative arts is a good way to refresh your heart, mind and soul. And sorry about the trolls but at least they’re gone now. Guess you can say justice had been done at last.

  • 3 March, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I believe writing literally saved my life when I began journal-writing in the 1970s during an intense crisis followed by a deep depression. I agree with you that anything creative that allows us to unconsciously and/or consciously process our emotions is a good thing.

    • 3 March, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks, Karen. I’m glad you found writing. I must check out your blog.

  • 3 March, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Glad those trolls have vanished.
    Whatever keeps depression at bay, do it.
    I think creative types have more than one outlet. Painting was once yours, now it’s writing. I’m more focused on music now than writing. But it’s all right. As long as we maintain that outlet, we’ll be fine.

    • 5 March, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      You’re right, Alex – keeping making that music!!

  • 4 March, 2016 at 12:58 am

    Depression is a sneaky ailment. I’ve had it twice in my life. The first time I crawled out on my own (I was a teenager), the second time I got help. If writing works for you, great! Take your pastels if you go on vacation, Knitting helps me when I get bogged down writing. Maybe because it’s sort of mindless? Wish I had talent for painting, but I’m hopeless! Hugs from me.

    • 5 March, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      Knitting is an interesting one – it does take concentration, but in a mechanical way, so it engages the part of the brain that would otherwise engage itself on fretting, I think 🙂

  • 3 April, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    I’m holding mine at bay, too. Just wanted to say hi and to let you know I’m reading your blog.

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