Today we meet Eric Hanson, and hear about what inspires him to keep writing in the face of severe depression. Many thanks to Eric for passing along his wisdom. If you’ve got some inspiring advice to share, please send it in!
My name is Eric Hanson, and I’m a 27-year-old writer living in Los Angeles. I’ve been suffering from severe depression, and it has affected my personal and professional life. It most often manifests itself in a persistent and overly critical voice that ridicules every misstep I make, even in my work.
Writing is something I love as it is the one practical skill I believe I possess, so I feel very pressured to turn out quality work. This makes me write a lot. This last year I wrote a full-length novel, three feature scripts, three short scripts and two short stories, along with untold essays and blog entries that have been taking up my time.
“When you lose yourself in the story, you forget all about your self-doubt, all about the things that make you sad, and you’re just along for the ride.”
The depression affected me most last month when I started work on my second book in a planned series of four. Writing the first book was a long but very fulfilling journey as I shared an adventure with a cast of characters who captured my heart. Every page I learned more about them—what made them tick, what their hopes and desires were, everything that made them more than just constructs I conjured up, but real flesh-and-blood individuals who kept me in good company.
I had a lot of doubt that I could do it again. I had seen series start out so promising on the first entry only to crash and burn on every attempt to re-energize them that came after. I was horrified that fate awaited the characters I had fallen in love with last year. That voice came back and whispered its usual taunts: “You’re going to fail them. You’re going to let them down.”
In spite of this, I still decided to write it, if only to pass the time.
The first few sessions didn’t go very well, with a mere 1,000 or so words written each day.
Soon though, something happened. While writing, my characters pulled me back into their world, and I wasn’t at the keyboard anymore—I was getting dragged along on another adventure. What helped me get back into the spirit of writing was the same thing that captured me to begin with. I lost myself in the story. When you do that, you forget all about your self-doubt, all about the things that make you sad, and you’re just along for the ride.
The best part though was seeing what was in front of me. It was very flawed, but I could pick out the flaws and immediately got ideas how to fix them. This made me not only eager to move forward with the draft I have, but also excited at the second draft which will begin in a few months.
In the end, the thing that helped me overcome my insecurity was just to write, because when I write, I forget about my self and just immerse myself in the story, and the story is what I believe in more than anything in the world.
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And be sure to visit Eric’s blog, Never Heroes, Journey of an Aspiring Storyteller.