Feature: Mental Health Awareness Month – On a Scale of One to Ten by Ceylan Scott
Each week for the month of May we have partnered with Scholastic to highlight young adult books that may help start conversations for Mental Health Awareness Month. Today we are spotlighting On a Scale of One to Ten by Ceylan Scott, which releases next Tuesday, May 14th, and is an #ownvoices fictional story featuring a character with borderline personality disorder and insight into a mental health institution. We also invited Taylor Fenner, author and fellow blogger, to talk about what it’s like to write through depression.
Check it out and come back weekly for more posts to help promote Mental Health Awareness.
Writing Through Depression
by Taylor Fenner
Writing is not easy. Anyone who says differently is lying. Writing while also dealing with depression? That can be downright impossible.
Like writing, depression can come in fits and spurts. Some can go long intervals without being too encumbered to go on with their daily lives or have long stretches where they simply do not have the energy to do the things they love.
I have been walking the fine line between depression and functional for a long time. I can write a 60,000 word novel in 30 days then be unable to write again for months. I can have a great writing day then the next day stare at an empty page for hours wondering why the words do not come.
It’s a daily struggle, juggling my need to write and my desire to write. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself. I give myself deadlines, sometimes impossible deadlines therefore setting myself up to fail. By the time I fail to meet the deadline or word count or whatever the goal may be I’m so miserable I don’t even care anymore.
But I can’t find it in myself to give up. I have so many stories yet to tell. So I made some changes. I had to remove the pressure I put on myself, stopped obsessing over how other writer friends were doing and just do my own thing. While I’m glad they can write 10k words a day, hearing that on a day when I couldn’t even get 10 words onto paper used to make me feel even worse.
I keep reminding myself, one word at a time, this book will get finished eventually.
I don’t think my struggle is unique to me, nor solely to writers with depression. I think with the social media crazed world we live in we see what our peers are doing and think we have to measure up to them and set our goals by their standards instead of what’s best for us and our health, both emotional and physical. Everyone is different, and constantly comparing the way you do things to someone else’s process or speed isn’t fair to you, and it isn’t healthy.
If you have a story inside you, just sit down and write. Forget about what others might think. Don’t push yourself to write a certain word count every day. If you can’t get to work on your project for a few days or weeks or (gasp) even months don’t beat yourself up. The story will still be there when you feel up to it. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing.
I find that keeping a journal helps me. I don’t write anything fancy in it, mostly what I did that day, dreams I might remember from the night before, what I ate that day… just normal day to day things. Who knows, maybe that weird dream I had the other night about the apocalypse could be used for a future story. Perhaps my daily encounters, the people I talk to, the weird things I see could work its way into what I’m working on.
Taylor Fenner grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. She’s been an avid reader with a vivid imagination since she was very young. Most of her childhood can be described as having her nose stuck in one book or another. She’s a strong believer in ghosts and the paranormal, which led to her interest in writing paranormal romance. Since then she has branched out into Urban Fantasy and now High Fantasy and Fairy Tale Retelling.
If you think you are depressed, you can take a free screening here and get resources.