Depression in Authors

Of the top ten careers that cause depression, being an author is number five. There are several reasons for this, which I will go over. More importantly, I want to help you as an author, so you won’t fall into this trap. 

Why are authors so easily depressed? It is a double-edge sword. You have been given this wonderful gift. If you are working a full-time job, which has nothing to do with being an author, then it can be a daily hell. All you think about is writing books. After a certain amount of time, you feel that your gift is being wasted. 

In all fairness, that is a true statement. It may not be totally your fault, but if you are in a career that is other than writing, it is only natural for you to be depressed. 

If you are a part-time worker and part-time author, it can be just as difficult. After all, you are not putting all your time/resources into your dream. Maybe you self-published a book, done some marketing, and researched a few agents. That is not even close to what your gift has demanded of you. 

Another problem is that authors do not make money when starting out. To be successful, you need to read, write, market, and be published. But that takes years. Meanwhile, how do you survive? 

That’s the tricky part. It’s why most authors give up. It is always why authors become depressed.

Even authors that have a career in writing, there are uncertain paydays, along with many days, months, and years of hard work, in which you are not guaranteed success. You want to be praised for your writing in a business that is filled with rejection. 

And all authors have asked this question at least once, “Is it worth it?” 

Before I depress you anymore, let me assure you that this blog will finish with an upbeat message. Nevertheless, I need all authors to be aware that it is not uncommon for you to feel down and out. In fact, 9% of authors have major episodes of depression and/or bipolar illness. Often times, authors turn to alcohol, illegal drugs, sleeping pills, and even suck down cold medicine three times a day. Prozac is a $500 million dollar a year business.   

If you are striving to earn a living as an author, then you are constantly battling the way you feel. After awhile, you come to terms with yourself that the only way you will feel good, is if you are published and selling 50,000 books a month. 

Which brings me to the major problem you face with depression. You have worked yourself (unwilling) to a position where you are at the mercy of the publishing industry. This is why “experts” warn new authors that rejections from literary agents and publishers are common practice. “You shouldn’t get yourself down,” experts tell you. “Rejections are part of the process.” 

Do not listen to that advice. You should not put yourself in the position to handle rejection, but rather put yourself in the position to succeed. 

You may not want to hear this, but if you are rejected, then it is your fault. Do not blame literary agents or publishers for not giving you a chance. If you are excelling at reading, excelling at storytelling, excelling at the mechanics of writing an entertaining book, excelling at marketing, excelling at networking, excelling in knowing the rules of publishing, excelling at industry knowledge, then there is no way on God’s green earth that anyone will reject you.

What are you willing to do, in order to handle your craft and improve your gift? Get control over your emotions. How are you going to deal with the tough road of becoming a full-time author? 

Let me repeat something you may have overlooked in what I just said. “Tough road.” You already know it’s going to be hard. You already know that the payoff in the beginning will be little to nothing. You already know that your writing needs to be improved. 

Since you already know this, how will you deal with it? Take time to answer that question, because anything else I say to you, in any other blog, will not matter if you cannot deal with the hardships of becoming a full-time author. 

In your journey, understand that being depressed is common, but you will feel confident and happy, more than being dejected. When you are gloomy, think back to a time when you felt like that before. How did you handle it? You must have done something to push yourself forward. Maybe one day you woke up and felt like being an author was impossible. But here you are, still fighting. What got you through that day? Was it support from your family? Did you focus on something else? Did you change your perception of yourself? Did you realign your goals? 

Maybe you just dug your fingers into the keys of the laptop and said to yourself, “I’m not giving up. No way!” 

Ten Ways to Fight Depression 

  1. Try a different approach. If something isn’t working, then find a way to be more productive.
  2. Prepare yourself mentally each day. “Today, I am going to read for a half hour, write for a half hour, market using social media for a half hour, and study the publishing industry for a half hour.”
  3. Remember that just because three years have gone by and your dreams have not come true yet, doesn’t mean the time has been wasted. I’ll bet a nickel right now that you are a better author than you were when first starting out.
  4. Do not let agents and publishers bring you down. If you did sufficient research and found an agent that would be perfect for you, yet the agent rejected you, then decide to approach him/her again in two years. Just say to yourself, “I wasn’t good enough today, but I will blow their mind in two years.” (If two years sounds like a long time, then you are in the wrong business.)
  5. Being stuck or frustrated will force you to take new directions and come up with better ideas. Become obsessed with learning as much as possible, instead of obsessing what you do not have.
  6. Know that the publishing industry isn’t going anywhere. Millions of readers are still buying books. Your challenge is only temporary. When you are selling 50,000 books a month, you will have new challenges. Learn to deal with things now.
  7. And expect that someday that your efforts will be worth it. Your standards are set high, so do not feel guilty when those goals are not met next month. Gain a small victory today, then another small victory tomorrow.
  8. You are not perfect and never will be. Nevertheless, you must improve your craft. If you are committed to improving, then it’s hard to be committed to depression.
  9. As an author, do the most important thing each day. For example, if you have ten things on your “Author To-Do List,” then figure out what is most important to you. Some authors do a million things a day, but still feel depressed at night and think, “What did I really accomplish?” If you accomplished one really important thing today as an author, you will feel great at night.
  10. Being an author is a lonely job. You spend 90% of the time locked away from the world, creating new worlds. Just know that you can reach out and connect with thousands of other authors who are in the same boat you are. Remind yourself that you cannot write books with a room full of people giving you advice. I believe it is wonderful that you have full control over every word that is written, every story that is told, every book that you read, every person you network with, every publishing idea you learn.  

Ten Emotions Authors Should Feel 

  1. Love
  2. Appreciation
  3. Interest
  4. Excitement
  5. Determination
  6. Flexibility
  7. Confidence
  8. Patience
  9. Energy
  10. Generosity 

If you are still fighting depression as an author, then just remember that every emotion, feeling, and experience that you have, is beneficial to your books. Also remember that the dream put in your heart will not go away. 

You are an author…deal with it. 

Ron Knight  


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  1. Lea-Ellen {night owl in IL} says:

    Ron –
    What a great article! At the end of it, on the next to last sentence (“Also remember that the dream put your heart will not go away.”) – do you mean to say “…the dream put in your heart…”?

    Lea Ellen {night owl in IL}