Illustration by Lili des Bellons
Mike Verbickas asked: "I wanted to reach out to you considering the hell of a year I have had thus far. I was hospitalized for depression a few months back, real mind altering stuff. I haven't been able to write since. I am still experiencing considerable problems writing. I don't have any ideas currently and need help with creative stimulation. Do you have any thoughts/suggestions? Can you describe your creative process? How do take an idea or two and flesh them out into a first draft? How many hours a week do you roughly spend writing? How long did it take you to get adjusted to such a schedule?"
That's a ton of questions, Mike, so I'll tackle them one by one. I'll do my best to give you all I have learned over the last 3 years that I've been writing and you tell me if it was helpful or if you have any more questions, okay?
Writing after depression.
I'll go back to that state I was in when I started writing after being suicidal and depressed to recall for you exactly what pulled me out and got me going. I haven't been writing before like you and I wasn't hospitalized, but when I did want to kill myself, my depression and my coming out of depression became the catalyst for me to start writing in the first place. Before it turned to creative writing I began journaling at the urge of my therapist. I think it worked for me because I've been writing diaries when I was a teen and perhaps the idea fell on fertile ground and I did it because the pen to paper in the middle of panic attacks was the only thing that made them stop and thus I could avoid pills. There was more, however. Behind this comfort was an incessant drive to remember my childhood most of which was blotted out by my ever-obliging brain and as a result most of my adolecense I was confused and plagued by darknesses that whispered to me to take my life. I contemplated it while standing on the roof of the ugly Soviet 9-story apartment buildings and looking down. "Should I jump?" I thought. "Should I not?" In the end I chickened out and didn't jump and wrote in my diary instead, even wrote some poetry. So journaling was something that I was used to. Is there a form of writing you're used to? Perhaps try starting there.
Help with creative stimulation. [read on]