Last week, I wrote about post-publication depression, then received feedback from several authors who have indeed faced something that feels like depression after they finished writing their books or published them. This week, I offer an alternative view, a reframing of what this experience, these feelings, may be.
What if the sensations that some authors experience after publication (or after any major milestone in a passion project)—low energy, trouble concentrating, decreased self-esteem, increased anxieties—what if these indications that highly resemble depression are actually something entirely different? Can you consider for a moment that they are completely normal? And, indeed, should be expected at this stage of the creative process? Best of all, what if there are simple things that can be done about them?
We invest time—weeks, months, years—in our passion projects. Often we invest our money too. Most surely, we invest our emotions. When we create, when we write, we are, in effect, giving birth, playing creator. God-like, we build worlds, develop people we call characters, share intimate and detailed stories of our lives, attempt to parse out some meaning from it all. What we create and write is a piece of us and when it is done, something within us can seem missing. After the act of creating, we can feel as though something vital has been lopped off or that everything we had in us has now been poured out of us and into that project. Our well of creativity is drained dry.
During massive periods of productivity, we empty our souls. So the feelings characterized as “depression” in last week’s blog article could simply be our creative well needing to be refilled. The tiredness, lack of focus, increased self-doubt, and other emotions and thoughts that result after intense creative periods often can be alleviated by a simple refilling of the well.
How do we refill our creative wells?
While the exact prescription is different for every artist and writer, the remedy can be found in what inspires us. Those feelings that resemble depression are an invitation to reignite our souls. Consider them as no-holds-barred permission to do what inspires you and brings you joy. Go to a movie, see a ballet, read the novel that’s been sitting on your nightstand for months while you were writing yours, fingerpaint with your grandkids, go sailing with your spouse, decorate your den, put on your rollerskates, go for a hike in the woods or take a leisurely stroll down the beach—find something, anything, that gives you joy and do it. Because . . .
When we re-engage with the things that light our creative fire, there is little room for the rest.
What do you do to refill your creative well? Please share in the comments below.
Please recognize that I am in no way a medical or mental health expert, and this information is not intended to diagnose or to recommend any type of treatment. If you believe you suffer from depression, please seek assistance from a qualified professional.
Gina Edwards is a retreat leader, a certified creativity coach, and a book editor. She is also a writer, so she’s intimately familiar with the challenges and elation that come with being one.
She supports all writers—published and aspiring—who want to write as an act of courageous and necessary self-expression.
Walking the writer’s path hand-in-hand with her clients and students, she helps them establish a writing practice and define a creative life on their own terms.