Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Is Writing Depressing?

Sympathy is obviously in order to Mirian Keyes, who has admitted to suffering from a depression so severe that she no longer feels able to write. One hopes she gets better soon. It prompts an interesting question, however. Is writing an intrinsically depressing profession?

There is certainly quite a wealth of scientific evidence to suggest that they might. And there are certainly plenty of anecdotal examples of writers who have been through periods of mental illness.

It is not that hard to understand why.

Writers are by their nature introverts. You have to be to do the job.

It is solitary. You inevitably have to spend a lot of time by yourself in front of a screen.

It is intensely personal. You have to put a lot of yourself into the work. And everything you do is subject to constant criticism.

It is insecure and pressurised.

None of those are recipes for a healthy mental state.

That doesn't mean that all writers suffer from depression. But I'm sure if we are being honest we will admit that we all have quite a few down days. And you need to be pretty resilient to do the job.

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