Writing With Mental Illness: How to Keep Creativity Up During Low Times


About a week ago, I got this ask  about how to stay creative when you have mental illness and fall into periods of low energy.  I gave a short answer then, but some time has passed and I wanted to dedicate some more attention to the issue.  

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I have depression and anxiety. I’ve gotten a lot better and both are at a manageable state now, but I still suffer from periods of low energy…but I’m also a writer, so how does that work out?  

These are some of the tips and tricks that work for me.  They might not work for you. That’s okay.  Everyone’s mental health and personal work style are different. 

1. Take Some Time Off

I know.  It sounds counterproductive to take time off from writing, but really, you call off work/school when you’re sick.  Writing is the one job you have where you are self-employed and your own boss.  If your brain is too sick one day to get any writing done, just take the day off.  You’re allowed to do that.  

That “real writers write everyday” mantra is a lie.  Everyone takes time off.  If you don’t feel well, the quality of your writing isn’t going to be to your regular standard and that might end up making you feel worse.  Not to mention that trying to force an already exhausted brain to do more work when you can be giving it a break could just make matters worse.  So take a deep breath and walk away for a little bit. 

2.  Are You Taking Care Of Yourself? 

I know this is a ridiculous question, but honestly, have you been taking care of yourself?  Are you making sure to take your medicines and vitamins? Going to therapy?  Are you getting enough sleep?  Eating well? Exercising?  Look at some of the things in your life from the past week and see if maybe something small like that could be negatively affecting you now.   If you realize that maybe you’ve been eating too much junk food or going to bed at irregular hours, try eating in and regulating your sleep schedule.  I know that sounds like lame NT advice, but small things like that can really trigger mental health episodes.  Take care of yourself before your OCs, yeah? 

3. Work On Something Else

Maybe your main WIP is just too much right now.  Find something to distract yourself with.  Maybe you want to do more art instead of writing. Maybe you want to try a silly AU or do some prompts.  Do you like to write music? Go write some music. Play with your cat. Build a birdhouse.  Bake some delicious cookies.  Just take a step away and do something that makes you happy. You can return to your WIP once you’ve given your brain a little break. 

4. Ease Back Into It

Maybe you’ve done everything above already and you feel better but you’ve gotten out of the habit of writing and you’re frustrated.  Don’t be.  You can’t go from writing 2k words a day to zero and back to 2k. That’s like a marathon runner taking a month off from running and trying to run a marathon again. It won’t work.  You have to ease back into it. So start off with a few hundred words and work your way back up.  I know it’s annoying not to be at where you before you lost your energy, but you’ll build yourself up faster this way and you won’t feel as frustrated with yourself. 

I hope some of this helped.  If there are points you want clarified or if you have tricks that work for you, send me an ask! Take care of yourselves, writeblr. 

I remember seeing a bunch of twitter posts by published authors mocking the “real writers write everyday” thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.