It is bleak midwinter, the days are short and dark, and the writing woes loom large. Rejections are piled up at your door thicker than the snowdrifts, the writer’s block is larger than the pyramids of Giza, or you just realized that the last two hundred pages you wrote about pronghorns invading Macau are trash.
Whatever the writer ailment is, [and there are many], the depression has reached the point where you’re waking up at 5:00am staring at the sunless morning with dead empty eyes…
It’s time to bust out of writer’s hygge. If the Norwegians and Danes understood that the only way to beat winter is to lean into it and celebrate, then surely writer’s hygge is about celebrating writing by leaning into the pain and that accepting yes, writing is an illness, and you will use all the coping strategies you have to bloody well cope. My favorites include…
- Wallowing artistically. There’s nothing like a good healthy wallow for sweating out the brain toxins. Drape yourself artistically over the couch in a rank bathrobe and wail to the heavens. Write emo poetry in a notebook. Restrain yourself and don’t send it to agents or friends or anyone at all, because you will not have people in your life if they read it. But that’s okay. Let it all out. There, there. The page understands and does not judge.
- Instead of staring at the window, go work out at the gym where there are fewer things to look at with your dead empty eyes. You’re suffering artistically so why not add some physical suffering to the mix? As an added bonus, when you’re done you will be so high on endorphins that you’ll channel your depression into composing humble-brag tweets instead of sitting at your desk wailing loudly.
- Going outside. This should actually maybe be first on the list, but I’m trying to be realistic. Upgrading from the pixelated sky of your computer background to the real thing is difficult, I know. It requires putting on deodorant and wearing real pants. But! A few minutes of tra-la-laing in the biting cold air and running around the block while the neighbors stare will make you thoroughly grateful to be indoors and writing after five minutes.
- Starting a new [non-writing] project. According to psychologist Jonathan Haidt, happiness is about making progress on measurable goals, which is why I’ve been playing the same internet browser game for eight years. Acquiring 7 million meat on Kingdom of Loathing is a sign of a healthy well-adjusted life; not an addiction.
- Hanging out with writers. Non-writers might give you unhelpful advice like: quit writing and go into banking, or hey, you know what? AI probably will render your novel useless anyway. But writers—they’ll understand why you spend so much time banging your head against a keyboard! Plus misery loves company. Schadenfreude? Call it community bonding. You’ll realize everyone is dealing with something. If they aren’t and gibber about their glowing successes, they probably had no friends as a child.
- Hanging out with non-writers. Bust your voice singing karaoke and get carpal tunnel by playing air guitar instead of typing. Use your words by talking to your friends and getting the update on their life. When they start talking about working incognito for the CIA/convincing sleepy pandas to produce babies/working as a governess for a cranky bigamist who likes to dress up as a fortuneteller…remember how much worse your life could be. I mean, other jobs require wearing real pants/skirts.
- Start a new writing project. They say there’s no better cure for a broken heart than a new relationship and shouldn’t that go double for a writing project that’s broken your sanity? If living is suffering (according to Buddha), and writing is pain (according to Dorothy Parker), and two negatives make a positive (according to my sixth grade math teacher), then writing more will make everything better. And how could Buddha, Dorothy Parker and a sixth grade math teacher steer you wrong? Remember you signed up for this because your jam isn’t sanity and logic, but the witchcraft of words.