How to Write When You’re Depressed

This hack might help.

Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

I have struggled a lot with depression over the last few months. I don’t know what the root cause is. I was watching a very interesting TED talk on the causes of depression. According to the talk, depression can be a signal that your life isn’t the way you would like it—the way it should be.

My life definitely isn’t the way I would like. I wasn’t a depressed person before. There’s a list of things I don’t like about my life:

  • The murder of my son (Read More…  )
  • I am currently unemployed. I don’t have a ton of money.
  • My wife is living in Rome
  • My family is living in The Philippines

I have recently started writing again. I rather like writing on Medium. I am still fairly new to the platform. I’ve seen many different methods on “success” with the platform. There are many different methods to succeed. Usually, this is measured in dollars earned. They all agree that success requires a high number of followers.

The #1 way listed to get followers is to post daily.

But what if you struggle with depression and/or anxiety?

If you have never experienced depression and/or anxiety, you will not understand. If you have experienced depression/anxiety, this will be very familiar to you.

You know exactly what you should be doing, but you can’t make yourself do it. You feel horribly sad or unworthy. An invisible force is keeping you “stuck.” The thought of doing anything feels unsurmountable.

What’s the point?

Sometimes it can be enough to keep a person bed-bound. Even basic cleanliness can fall by the wayside. This can be a vicious feedback loop. The more you don’t do, the worse you feel about yourself. The worse you feel about yourself, the less you do.

Of course, this is an extreme example—the worst of the bad days. I have them from time to time. They are getting less, but they still happen. They happen a lot when I am too tired, but that’s a bunny trail for another time.

So how am I supposed to post daily?

Yes, I have down days, but I have many more “good” days. On a good day, I am full of energy and productivity. I can finish two or more articles. I am confident that I can “make this work.”

If every day were a “good” day, I would have no problem writing daily.

Most days are in the middle. I can write one good article and do some self-maintenance. I’ll take it. They sure beat a “down” day.

I am blessed that the last couple of weeks have only had two down days. On balance, I’ve had more middle to good days than I have had down days.

The trick, for me, is the leverage the power of the “good” or “up” days.

The writing hack of super-productivity

When I have an “up” day, the words are flying out of my fingers. One article? That’s a breeze! Two articles? No sweat! Three articles? We’ll see what we can do, but I’m up for the challenge!

After finishing the first article, I post it immediately. I a writing calendar. It has a topic that I write about each day. This keeps me interested and attracts a wider audience. I brainstorm a list of possible articles and make a list to fertilize my imagination.

When the first article is finished, I check my calendar of writing topics. I see what’s “on deck” for tomorrow and write about that. When this article is ready to go, I load it into my own blog. I do not publish it immediately. I set it to publish tomorrow.

This is easy to do from a WordPress blog. Look on the right section next to the word “Publish.” There is a link that reads “Immediately.” Click the link to pick a different date (see screenshot, below).

Personal Screenshot. M. W. McCabe

When tomorrow comes, the article will automatically post to my personal blog. The only thing I need to do is import the article to Medium. To import and article, go to the “Stories” section of your profile. Click the button  “Import a story” button to pull in an article.

This is a pretty small thing to do. So far, I have enough willpower to make myself do one thing on a bad day. I make that one thing be importing an article on Medium.

Bam! We have the illusion of daily consistency. I have insurance that I will post every day, even if tomorrow totally sucks. It might. I hope not, but the reality is that it might.

I can also use this method to post an article on Sunday. I don’t like to work on Sunday, so I will get that article ready to go on Saturday.

It’s even better if I have a super up day where I can write three articles in a day. When that happens, I can get two days ahead. If I continue to have good days, it would be cool to get very ahead. Then I can start submitting to publications. Bigger Medium publications can take up to two weeks to get back to you. I want to maintain my personal daily reputation. I also want to submit articles for publications. I want to do both while working with my recurring depression.

This is my current system. It works for me.


Over time, the reasons for my depression will lift. My wife will be able to come to America at some point. The rest of the family will come eventually. I will get a job, or make more money from my writing. As time passes from the murder of my son, the memory gets softer. I can remember him with a smile.

I was blessed to have him for the time that I had him.

Being able to “handle” at least one thing (my writing) is a boost to my self-confidence. This is another shield to my depression. The more I like myself, the more I can resist the lies of depression. I am worth something. I do deserve happiness.

The depressed thoughts can jump in a lake. They are lies.

One thought on “How to Write When You’re Depressed

  1. This is so good. One of the reasons I have held back from writing, music and art as a lifestyle, is exactly this. I can’t count on me to be steady. This is good material, and helpful. Not just a writing hack, but a life hack. For years now, I notice when I’m up and capable, it’s important to do things a little extra. Keep the laundry up, even if there’s not too much this week. Make larger portions of food and save the left overs, etc. God has a plan for every day, and fresh new mercies, no matter what. And He’s a hood time manager. He knows exactly when those extra bits of energy are hoing to come in handy.

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