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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Staying Mentally Fit: Writers and Depression

I've posted this before, and it was published by Spirit Led Writer, but I've reposted it since I've heard several friends saying they feel blue lately.

Writers seem to live in states of anticipation and dejection, interspersed with small moments of happiness. It’s the whole submit, rejection or acceptance cycle the publishing world casts on us and we accept, along with the title of “writer” and the reality of such a solitary pursuit.

It’s normal to be down for a day or two after a rejection or a hard-drive crash, but what about the writers who don’t seem to bounce back? Who lose their creative edge? Who just want to sleep? There are many aspects of mental health, but I want to focus on depression because it is so common and seems to affect so many of us. Depression is considered a “stress related disease” and varies from mild cases of “the blues” to full-blown, clinical depression. I was amazed at the number of writers who responded to my questions about their experiences. Both Christian and non-Christian writers responded, reminding me that Christians are as subject to bouts of sadness as anyone else. Just because we have hope, we don’t necessarily have happiness.

“Sadness is a big part of life and an integral part of joy. The Scriptures deal much more with the concept of joy than of happiness. Joy encompasses everything on our journey - the good and the bad. Joy is being one with Christ, experiencing his sufferings and participating in his glory and goodness.” --JL Young

Depression affects writers and their creativity in a variety of ways. I was surprised by the number of writers who revealed that negative feelings actually had a positive impact on their writing. E.A. Blackwell reports: “Maybe this is strange, but I actually find that being depressed or upset usually fuels my writing. There is, however, a line between ‘depressed and writing well’ and ‘depressed and wanting to throw oneself off a bridge.’ The latter is obviously counterproductive.” Other writers explain that some of their best scenes come from feelings of angst or despair, and the writing becomes therapeutic.

But for every writer who uses their discomfort to aid their work, there are two who feel apathetic, uninterested in working during these times. They find themselves unable to write, or if they do the work lacks emotion. Every project feels like a “mammoth task” looming on the horizon, and their prayer life suffers as well.

If you are experiencing blue feelings or ‘bouts of funk,’ as one writer described, home relaxation and pampering techniques might work. Try a new form of exercise, spend time outdoors, watch your diet, get a massage, get more sleep, visit a new church, pray in a new place, read something new, take up golf or martial arts, try aromatherapy –anything to add interest to your regular routine.

Writer Kevin Hill recommends the following:
“Learn to be thankful to God. At first force yourself to thank God out loud for at least 10 things everyday. Read the uplifting psalms out loud (Faith comes from hearing and hearing the word of God!) and when you need to "Encourage your soul." There may be time when there is no one else to encourage you. Force your self to pray and focus totally on Jesus Christ, not your problems.

Go and find someone more depressed than you and pray for them, encourage them and help them. This is hard to do but well worth it. God often sorts you out as you minister to another person. Get rid of the fairy tale notion that being a Christian is all wonderful and a bed of roses. There will be pains and troubles but don’t lose heart because Jesus has overcome the world!”

What if These Things Don’t Work?

So how does one know when it’s time to worry and seek help? If you lose interest in socializing and isolate yourself, if your sleeping patterns change or you wake early for no reason, you lose your ability to concentrate or focus, you experience feelings of hopelessness or feel a need to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, it’s time to seek help. Some writers put off treatment over fears that they will lose their creativity, especially if medication is recommended. Unfortunately they often become more depressed and don’t write anyway.

So please, if you believe you are facing more than ‘the blues,’ seek help and seek God—don’t suffer in silence.

Nikki Hootman summed it up well: ”How do I get over it? I don't. It's reality. What I do is learn to trust in God. I don't know everything, and I'm not big enough that I will ever understand the whys of the world. But as God asked Job, was he there when the world began? Was I? No. I turn to the bible and I take comfort in the fact that others have asked the same hard questions. . . Then when I get frustrated and depressed I can think, ‘Maybe I can't save the world, but I've done what I can. And I know the person who CAN save the world-- and already has.’”

The symptoms
 Can't make decisions
 Waking in the early morning
 Wanting to cry
 Lack of energy
 Loss of appetite
 Drinking too much
 Eating too much
 Loss of interest in sex
 Not caring about your appearance
 Becoming withdrawn
 Feeling you can't be bothered
 Suffering from poor self esteem
 Can't concentrate
 Lack of self confidence
 Feeling isolated or lonely
 Lacking purpose in your life

Links of Interest:

Writers and Depression:

Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression (Hardcover)
by Nell Casey (Editor)

IVillageDepression & Bipolar Center|hco|tdepression|em|PPC5B9C|s&OVRAW=writers%20and%20depression&OVKEY=and%20depression&OVMTC=advanced&OVADID=4971998511&OVKWID=21604395511

Creativity and Depression

Famous Writers with Bipolar Disorders

writers and Depression

Understanding depression and its many causes

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Theology Boot Camp

Attention! [pronounced Ahhh-Tennn-Shun] The upcoming Boot Camp is all about being grounded in the major training topics of the Christian faith. This is done in one day on Saturday, July 31st from 9am-3pm. We promise you will learn things you wish you would have known 10 years ago. Boot Camp is geared for both teenagers new to the faith and seasoned citizens who have faithfully read the Bible every day for decades. Both will be enriched as we open up the Scriptures, learning about the foundations of the faith. If you have a pulse this event is for you. You will have a great time while your heart and mind are stretched to the glory of God.

Online and onsite seating available.

C. Michael Patton, Th.M. and Tim Kimberley, Th.M. will be our teachers for this Boot Camp.

Major Training Topics include: the Trinity; Scripture; the Person of Christ and Mankind

Find out more Enroll here:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Real Goal


July 28, 2010

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 3:14

The way to walk a tightrope is to keep one's sight on the goal, looking neither down to the ground nor over our shoulder at what is behind. The way to walk with Jesus is to keep our eye on the goal, his victory waiting for us when he returns, not on the ground (our
failures) and not what is behind (our accomplishments). The goal of the Christian walk is to keep walking toward Jesus until we walk with him in heaven.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gotta Have It?

When his publisher offered me a copy of "Gotta Have It!" I felt it sounded like an interesting read. Dr. Jantz's new book has the subtitle, "Freedom from Wanting Everything, Right Here, Right Now." Readers will discover why they crave excessities, learn how to judge their importance and how God can help let go of them. With exercises and Biblical advice, it's a guide I recommend for living in the 21st century.

From the book--

"His timing can be perplexing and even arbitrary. If I understand, feel and experience my need to be so immediate, I can be left to wonder, why doesn't God?"

"When you wait on an excessity, there is no benefit. When you wait on God, however, you realize a host of benefits."

From Publishers Weekly
Jantz (Hope, Help, and Healing for Eating Disorders), founder of the Center for Counseling and Health Resources in Seattle, tackles a topic that deals with an inner impulse that every man, woman, and child will understand and relate to. Jantz skillfully handles addictions nd, abuses of every type as he challenges readers to admit they spend far too much time trying to get what they want so that they have no energy left for what they need. The author dissects the power of wants by closely examining deepest human needs for comfort, reassurance, security, validation, and control; he contrasts the human "gotta have it" impulse with the gifts God provides: patience, endurance, contentment, wisdom, hope, help, and even sometimes answers, noting how these things truly satisfy the soul. Strong on biblical principles for handling life's challenges, Jantz offers an insightful and encouraging resource for any person of faith with any sort of tendency toward excess, which could mean just about anyone. This is a timely and nerve-exposing primer of American life today.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the book:
Gotta Have It! is every grown-up’s guide for taming the inner two-year-old. Too many people spend so much time trying to get what they want that they have no energy left to get what they need. Dr. Gregg Jantz calls this phenomenon excessity—when excess becomes a “necessity.” Excessities—whether they are activities, behaviors, or objects—promise protection in a difficult world. Yet they never satisfy.
In Gotta Have It!, readers are invited to discover the truth about themselves that is hiding behind their secret desires. With real-life stories and guided sections for self-reflection, Gotta Have It will help readers see life as never before—and delight in the way God longs to fulfill true needs.

From the author's site:

Twenty-five years ago, eating disorder specialist Dr. Gregg Jantz had a vision of Hope. Trained in counseling, he looked at the treatment options available and realized something was missing. In all areas of need – from eating disorders to depression – hurting people went to a doctor, a psychiatrist, a counselor, and a pastor, going from place to place looking for Hope, help and healing from their pain. At each junction, they received help for a piece of the puzzle, but that puzzle often remained unsolved.
Instead of settling for fractured care, Dr. Jantz created The Center, known as "a place of hope". – leaders in whole-person care where people find comprehensive, coordinated care from a treatment team using a whole-person model “inspired healthcare” –addressing medical, physical, psychological, emotional, nutritional, fitness and spiritual factors involved in recovery.

Available now from David C. Cook.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Exciting New Contest!

Great new giveaway going on at The Romance Reviews!

Are Editors Evil?

There's a great post today over at the Writer Beware! Blog----here's an excerpt--

Friday, July 16, 2010
The Myth of the Evil Editor
Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Recently, in an online conversation touching on self-publishing, a self-published writer commented on how happy she is that her books are truly her own--published exactly as she intended them, not mutilated or adulterated by some big publishing house editor whose main goal is to turn out cookie-cutter authors. When I replied that I've worked with three editors at five large publishers over the course of seven novels, and have never had my work mutilated or adulterated, much less transformed into a cookie, she told me that I was "very lucky," for she knew of many writers who'd had the opposite experience.

I didn't ask her who those writers were. If I had, I suspect I would have gotten a vague response about a friend of a friend, or an article she'd seen at some point, or some other form of non-first-hand information. Like the fear of theft, the idea that the main function of publishing house editors is to turn books into clones, and that authors who publish "traditionally" can expect to have their manuscripts slashed and burned in callous disregard of their original voices and intents, is largely unfounded. Nevertheless, it's quite common. I've often seen it used to justify a choice to self-publish ("I want my book to remain MY BOOK!"), or presented as one of the reasons why self-publishing is superior.

At its best, the author-editor relationship is a partnership. The editor doesn't want to turn your book into a cookie; she wants it to be as good as it can possibly be so it will sell robustly and make money for everyone. To that end, she suggests ways in which your manuscript could be strengthened and improved, and leaves it to you to make those changes in the best way you can. You're well-advised to take her comments seriously--she's a professional, after all, and writers who believe they don't need an editorial eye are letting their egos run away with their good sense. But it is still your book, and if you disagree with your editor you're free to say so, and to make a case for keeping things as they are, or for making a different change.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Midsummer's Night


But the LORD is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him." Habakkuk 2:20

One of my favorite scents of Yankee brand candles is “Midsummer’s Night.” It is a deep indigo blue color and as for the scent, well, I wish this book had scratch –n-sniff features so you could experience it with me. On a dark, steamy July night, I burn this candle and listen to the silence outside my window. It’s a quiet month, if you ignore the crickets, as most of the outdoor concerts and carnivals that light up the evening don’t start until August. It’s then that I feel His presence. My family room becomes a temple, and I turn off the television and bask in the glow of candlelight and peace.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Extreme Home Makeover--in Baltimore

As a graduate of CND, I received this email this morning about the upcoming Home Makeover event. Contact the college if you can volunteer.

Dear Notre Dame Graduates and Friends:

By now, many of you have seen that ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has selected Boys Hope Girls Hope Baltimore (BHGH) as their latest construction project (construction started yesterday morning, Saturday, July 10 and will continue through the big reveal on Friday, July 16).

Boys Hope Girls Hope is an international organization founded in 1977 and now has 40 homes in 16 U.S. cities and 4 Latin American countries. BHGH helps academically gifted and motivated at-risk children meet their full potential by providing values-centered, family-like homes and education through college. (For more information about the program visit

What you may not know is that College of Notre Dame has been privileged to be partnered with this outstanding organization since its founding in Baltimore in 2002 as a residential program for 6 boys. Over the 8 years, our faculty, staff and students have volunteered at the Boys Home, delivered gifts at Christmas, provided summer job opportunities for the young men and offered support in many other ways.

We've always dreamed of the day when a Girls Home would be built! Earlier this year, the Baltimore program began offering non-residential support to girls selected as BHGH scholars and a site was secured to build the home for the girls. On Friday, ABC announced that the Extreme Makeover team will be in Baltimore to build their dream home!

As the Women's College in Maryland, Notre Dame is proud to partner with Boys Hope Girls Hope on this spectacular project - and many in the Notre Dame community have already signed on to help as volunteers. Here is where we need you - the build continues in shifts through Thursday, July 15 and volunteers are needed to help with the construction of the home (painting, carpentry, electrical work, etc.) and in support areas for food service and clean up.

For more information or to volunteer, visit When you sign up, please mention Notre Dame in the comments field.

On the website, you will notice that the team is also looking for donations of books, electronics and other items that will make this new house a home for these young women. A full listing is provided.

As we learn more information about the airing this fall and have updates regarding the activity surrounding the construction this week, we'll keep you informed. We are thrilled to make this dream a reality for the seven remarkable young women of Boys Hope Girls Hope.

Whether you are able to volunteer, donate or simply spread the word, thank you for your support as College of Notre Dame of Maryland helps to create an environment of learning and encouragement for this new generation of women scholars.


Mary Pat Seurkamp

Monday, July 05, 2010

Almost Forever

I couldn't put this book down. I received it in the mail a few days ago as a surprise from the publisher, and started reading because I have enjoyed other Deb Raney books. This story was compelling and based on something we can all relate to--causing others pain unintentionally. Ms. Raney took an idea that might have been too dark in another writer's hands and wrote a story brightened with hope and forgiveness. Visit Deb's site at

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Rejecting Rejection

There is a great post today on the BookEnds, LLC blog-- check out this agent's advice to a newly submitting, and newly rejected, writer.

Here's an excerpt from the writer's letter--

I’m not sure if you can answer this, but I thought maybe some of your readers could. I’m just curious if you ever get past the rejection part of the query process.

I sent my first queries recently, and I have received four rejections so far. I know that’s not a lot (yet anyway), but those four have had an overwhelming negative effect on me. I’m really surprised it affected me so negative, because I read hundreds of post that informed me prior to sending the queries that the majority will be rejections.

My dilemma is this; I seem to have lost the joy to write anything. When I was writing my novel, I was divinely engrossed in doing so. I was so eager to see what was going to happen myself that I stayed up till 4am almost every morning writing (even though I had to wake up with my 2 year old and go to work). I continuously did research on writing, querying, etc. I loved it. After I sent my queries, I was excited every time I saw the light flashing on my blackberry. Then with each passing rejection, it felt like someone was twisting a knife in my gut a little more each time. Now, I literally hate opening my e-mail

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Independence Day

Happy Birthday to our great country! It seems even more important to say it this year, with so many of our freedoms and lifestyles in jeopardy. Long Live America!