Even the most passionate people find it hard to stay motivated or even move when their mental illness is knocking on the door. Being a creative person, an artist and freelance writing with depression, I have found my biggest challenge to be myself. I am diagnosed with persistent depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Out of all of these, I find that depression takes the most away from my motivation and creativity.
So, how do you freelance write and work on your own things when you struggle with an illness that stifles your passion and hides your motivation?
Finding Motivation When Freelance Writing With Depression
Depression takes away my love for life. Things that would normally give me a reason to rush out of bed in the morning don’t feel worth it. Nothing does. The days never stop though. Doctors appointments, kids to take care of, cleaning, work that needs to be done, food that needs to be bought and cooked, etc. The list is endless. The list is draining on a great day but on a bad day, it’s hard to physically move. I have spent a good part of my life depressed. I have spent my entire life being interested in art and writing. Now that I’m all grown up, I have made art and writing my career. Freelance writing with depression or owning your own business has some unique challenges. Motivation, organization, growth, and consistency all come with being your own boss. It is fair to say that I have honed some helpful skills in working while struggling.
The most important tip I can give anyone in a similar situation to mine is self-care.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is important, not only for people that struggle but for everyone. Unfortunately, this isn’t something we are taught about in school, often not at home either. It is the glue that will hold us together. Honestly, most days I am lucky to have five minutes of quiet completely to myself. Between being a full-time mom with young kids, running my own blogs, creating art, and writing for others… I am surprised I am still standing. I do make myself make time for one act of self-care a day, at the least. This can be something as simple as a proper shower or could be something a little more pampering like painting my nails or going out to do something I like. Why is self-care important? Because you can’t give more if you are running on empty. Will your car drive if it doesn’t have gas? No.
The Unique Struggles of Being A Freelance Writer
We often forget ourselves. Freelancing has made me a lot busier in recent years so, I have made it a point to make sure I fill myself up so I can keep on going. Truth is, I’ve had a rough 6 years both mentally and physically. I have only just recently felt more like myself or rather the new me. Now being older, wiser, and growing a few gray hairs along the way, I have found that wellness starts and ends with self. Another way I fuel myself is through practicing mindfulness, more specifically with a self-compassion approach. Staying in the moment, being present, and connecting to my compassionate self has aided my wellness journey greatly. It has also allowed me to incorporate these practices into my writing which in turn, has helped me improve and grow. Creative people seem to be more prone to mental health issues. Creativity is an outlet for us.
I also find that as a creative person it is beneficial for me, and for the people who employ me, to use my experiences to my advantage. Your experiences make you unique, they give you a voice and areas to explore. You can use this in both your personal writing, for example, journaling, or you can use it in work for clients. Getting your feelings, experiences out, and even helping others through freelance writing can be cathartic while aiding in wellness and providing income.
Tips For Freelance Writing With Depression
Self-discipline is one part of freelancing with depression that I have found particularly hard. I also happen to have a learning disability that makes organization difficult for me. This is something I have spent most of my life working on. With the help of others, and through my own trails I have found things that work well for me. One of the best ways to stay organized and on top of things is to use a schedule to block out the time. Make it work. There are some days I just can’t. There’s just absolutely no way I am getting anything done. I use the times when I can to write, to catch up, etc. You do what you can as you can. When you freelance, you pick what you do and when you do it. I email editors and submissions more when I am doing well and have blocked in the time to do this.
I have found bullet journaling works well for me. A planner may work well for you. They are the same thing, I just make my own and use the bullet journaling system to mark off tasks, appointments, etc. I find this fun and relaxing. Being an artist as well, this is right up my alley. If you find making your own journal too stressful, a premade planner would work well. I find writing things down instead of just using my phone makes me more productive and I am able better to remember what I need to do. Self-discipline is something I had to learn as I mentioned earlier, and it’s never been my strong suit. It takes dedication and practice. The more you work on it, the easier it gets to do it. Especially when you enjoy it.
I love to draw, read, write and create, but when I’m not doing so well with my conditions, I don’t enjoy anything. Freelance writing with depression requires simple self-care practices and blocking in time to keep me on track. When I really can’t, I don’t fall too far behind. I can pick back up once I work my way out of being overwhelmed. Writing, in its nature, is something you have to focus on while you are doing it. I find making my workspace one I enjoy helpful. I make sure I have the quiet I need, a drink, even a snack, and my notes. I take a lot of notes. I jot down ideas as they come, I keep a lot of running lists. I keep doing lists, idea lists, specific editor submission lists, things I need to look up or research, etc. This way I don’t forget when my mind is foggy or my memory isn’t so great. Keeping myself organized is incredibly effective and has been a big part of aiding in my recovery but also being a welcome symptom of being better.
I find it particularly valuable to break things up into smaller tasks. It is easier to sit there and do tasks in blocks.
For example, you could break up each step of your writing process:
- Rough draft
- Full copy
- The final piece, pictures/illustrations (if applicable)
- Submit or post
You will find what works for you on your writing journey. Freelance writing with depression came with challenges that other options didn’t, but it is a path I am happy to be on. Our paths may be similar but what works to get you along yours may be different than mine. Try what you can and stick with what works. Tweaking as you move forward. Sometimes passion isn’t enough to motivate when we are dealing with conditions abled writers aren’t. When the project is something that needs to be done, you find ways around it. You work your way back to passion, you work your way back to you.
About The Author:
Letitia Hearty is a mother to two young boys, a writer, content creator, and an artist in Toronto, Ontario. Sometimes she thinks she is funny which is when she gets the urge to write and illustrate on her own blog, Apparently a Mom.