There is no simple answer to this question. There is a rich history of famous writers who have struggled with depression, and a good many other writers have less well known, but just as harrowing stories. William Styron’s memoir, Darkness Visible, provides a gripping account of his inner struggles and near suicide. In his book, Styron recounts an incident of becoming blocked when trying to compose a suicide note. As a result he didn’t follow through with his plan, so this particular block was quite fortunate.
A normally happy writer may develop a depression during a protracated dry spell. Depression impacts energy level, concentration, memoryand confidence, and can easily shut a writer down, and make the blocks worse. Interestingly, I have seen many blocked writers report a boost in their mood when they start writing again. For some, this worked better than taking Zoloft. Writing itself can be healing, but how do you write when you can’t get yourself to write?
There are as many answers to this question as their are writers. Sometimes a depressed writer needs to seek treatment first, to even get to a place where they can begin to engage in their writing again. Sometimes the depressed blocked writer is able to take some beginning steps back into their writing, with or without treatment, and feel better as a result.
Depression is a common feature in the blocked writer’s profile. It is challenging to address, and may take time, but help is out there and many writers have found their way through the darkness and back to their work.