The Psych Writer: What Next?

Since we took a break for a few weeks from The Psych Writer after a seven-part series on grief, I’ve noticed that TPW is actually pretty popular. So because I love the subject, and I love to write, and I love to have people read, I was thinking of reaching out to all of you by opening up comments.

What kinds of things would you like to read about next, in the context of writing/creating a convincing character with a mental health issue? There are so many I can write about, including the ones I find are most misunderstood and abused by laypeople who watch far too much television and think that Sherlock Holmes is actually a psychopath (WRONG!) because the writers are ableist twats.

I’ll open the comments up to you, or you can comment via Facebook or Twitter.

What would you like to see next for TPW? Below are a few choices, but you’re welcome to come up with your own.

  • PTSD
  • Major Depressive Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder
  • Bipolar I, II, and Cyclothymic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • OCD and OCPD

Now I’ll probably work on all of these and more, but I’m reaching out to you, my fine and beautiful reader, for what you’d like to see next.

In the meantime, happy writing, and try not to tear up my inbox too much. *wink*


While I was doing all of this, I was getting a book ready for publishing. If you’re up for a journey through Perdition and back, hop in your car and head for the sign that says Now Entering Silver Hollow. It’s available on several eBook platforms, and in print through CreateSpace and Amazon.

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Who is a writer? Jen Jones on the Full-Time Writer

When I recently read an article by Jen Jones called Writing Is My Job, her voice resonated with me. As a full-time writer and editor, I know those struggles. Of people belittling and demeaning your work because you don’t have a standard 9-to-5.

Well, for the holidays, I took a temp job in October for three months so I could make extra money. So currently I do this second job, come home, write, sleep, and start over all over again the next day. For me, it’s a second job that might last six months instead of three, but we’ll see. My writing comes first.

For those of you who are writers, I just wanted to let you know that it’s okay to consider your current 9-to-5 as your second job. Because that’s what it is. You may not make enough to quit the second job and devote full-time to writing, or you may not be able to stretch the budget to get used to being paid quarterly.

It doesn’t matter. Your reasons are private and what you make is no one’s business.

And for those of you who don’t write and look down on those who do say they’re writers, sit your judgmental asses on the side for a second and listen up: if someone tells you they’re a writer, don’t make your first question “are you published?” It may seem like an innocent enough question and seem like you’re just inquiring where to buy their work, but to a writer who is struggling to publish or finish a manuscript, it can be a painful question. Plus I know some people do it to be dinks and belittle the person’s profession or make them feel small. That’s not any of my readers, though, I’m sure.

Just because they aren’t published yet doesn’t make them any less of a writer. I’ve published 5200 articles–all of them ghost-written. I’ve published a short story in an anthology, and I’ve published a one-shot short story on Amazon. I have a full composite novel coming out just in time for Halloween. Yes, I’m a writer. Even before I published my first short story.

Be nice to us indie authors. We’re just here to tell stories and be entertaining.

So what do you ask, then? A better question is, “what are you working on?” Okay, while it’s a grammatically incorrect question, it gives the writer a chance to tell you about their newest project or something they have already published. It increases your likelihood that you won’t be killed off in their next chapter, too. So side benefit.

“What are you working on?” is the question that a writer asks another writer, unless we’re being dicks on purpose. Sometimes I’ll ask, “where are you at with publishing?” because I want to be helpful. It’s a different question than “are you published” because I don’t presuppose that you have to be published to be a writer. It also gives the other writer a chance to brag about their new deal with Random House, or tell me they’re braving the waters of self-publishing and are in need of an editor.

Whether you’re a full-time writer or you have a second job to support your writing career, if you work hard day in and day out writing on your manuscript and you know what it means when I say the phrase “elevator pitch” without using Google, then congratulations, you’re a writer.


My name is Anne, and I write stuff. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I also answer questions on Quora.

The Editor’s Corner – The Rough Draft

As you know, last week we just finished up a section on grief in The Psych Writer Series. So this week I wanted to take a break and head to The Editor’s Corner. After all, we’re writers, not psychologists. (For those of you enjoying TPW, we’ll get back to it soon!)

I have a little online writing group and as a freelance editor, I give writing tips and tricks to the youngsters on how to improve their writing (they are ages 13-20). But I don’t care to be all high-and-mighty. I write, too.

And my rough drafts are hellacious.

Everyone’s are. But I put them up in the group, anyway.

There is a reason that I post my rough drafts for their critique. I want to show them that even an editor who picks apart everything about a novel from start to finish to help them make a better piece of writing also has crappy rough drafts. We all have our quirks and problems in our first draft.

This is why I present them a rough draft, so they can see that.

Why?

Because the first time a person gets their manuscript back with line-by-line changes and more “red ink” on it than black, it’s effing discouraging and makes people want to throw their work out the window and into a bonfire.

But I assure them: if you get something back that marked up, it means you have potential. An editor will not waste time on a work if they don’t think it can grow.

So if they or you ever ask me for my professional feedback and you get it, even if some of it’s difficult to take, know that me spending time on your work means something. It means I think it has potential, and that’s the highest compliment an editor can pay to a writer.

In a letter to 19-year-old Arnold Samuelson, Ernest Hemingway once wrote the following:

“Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is sh*t. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.”

This is what an editor helps people do. We don’t function as writers in that moment. What we do is massage the work into a shape that will leave the reader euphoric, devastated, or otherwise moved. They will incorporate your story into the tapestry of their lives.

This is why I share my rough drafts with my group. To show them that the work is always, without exception, in need of more refinement.

So when you share a work with a professional and it’s a rough draft, expect a lot of feedback. A lot of it. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or it’s crap. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Happy writing!


I am Anne Hogue-Boucher. I write stuff and then I edit it, and then edit it some more. I also get it edited. If you’d like to read some of my work, pick up a copy of Exit 1042. There’s more on the way. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

The Psych Writer: Grief – Phase Seven: Acceptance

This is the final installment of the grief section in The Psych Writer series. Last week, we took a look at The Depression Phase. But now we can take a nice, deep breath and look at how far we’ve come. All the way to acceptance.

These phases are organized for the benefit of the clinician. They are not set in stone and the patient will likely not feel these things in order, or one at a time. They might, but they might not. Grief is individualized. There is also fluidity in acceptance. It can fluctuate, just like the other phases.

Oh, acceptance, this phase is so lovely, right? Happy bluebirds sing all around you as you realize you fully accept that x loss has happened and sunbeams arch from your head in a golden halo of enlightenment.

NO.

Acceptance isn’t pretty. It’s not always peaceful. It’s not often a loving, gentle tutor that allows us to smile once again. No. It’s part of the process, and sometimes, perhaps most of the time, it’s ugly before it is fine. The experience varies from person to person.

What acceptance is can be anything from a bitter resignation to one’s fate, to a calm recognition of this is how the way things are, and everything in between. This is the moment where a person says, “my mother is dead. Nothing can change that,” or “I lost my job and there’s no going back.”

Acceptance is the first step to putting one foot in front of the other and rebuilding life without whatever was lost.

Acceptance from the Patient’s POV
The patient feels the loss, though often less acutely than in the other stages. The grief has been replaced with the ability to function without the target of their loss. There may be lingering feelings of sadness, anger, and those feelings may resurge from time to time, but there is a sense in the person that they need to move forward. Acceptance of a non-lethal event, such as job loss or divorce, a spark of interest in other activities may arise. The person may have found a new love interest, or a new job may have them ready to move on from the old one.

Acceptance from the Therapist’s POV
While this is often a good sign that the patient is ready to make significant leaps into moving forward, it is important to check in with them to see how they feel about their newly found acceptance. Is there resignation? Optimism? Pessimism? Fear of moving forward? It will be up to the therapist to help the patient work through those retentive feelings so that the patient can move toward healthy and more helpful feelings.

What this Means for You, The Writer
Getting to acceptance might be a good starting point for your character, and however they get there will be far more interesting than the feelings themselves. Does your character need revenge in order to accept something that was taken from them? Will it help? Will they regret what they’ve done, or will they accept it and move on to better things? Starting a character in the acceptance phase might be interesting if you can flip the acceptance on its ear. What comes next after they’ve accepted their fate? These are all questions you may wish to answer for your character.

If you came here looking for psychological assistance, please contact your local crisis line. Dial 2-1-1 in the US for the United Way, or contact the Samaritans in the UK. For a list of international crisis lines, click here.

Breathe easy, we’ve gotten through this together. Now go write.


Now that we’ve done this in-depth examination of grief, let’s move onto some other topics. I take requests (you can ask via Facebook or Twitter). Next week I’ll do some fluffy topics or post a picture of my cat. Maybe. Or I might drag you further into the abyss. Who knows with me? If you’re in need of some lighthearted diversions, check out my Facebook and Twitter. Or for some entertaining fiction that touches on grief and loss, grab a copy of Exit 1042.