Besides writing, Ran works in the mental health field, so discussing mental health and how it affects writers was a natural. We also discuss how writers can take care of their mental health to continue writing.
Ran: Are you working on your author career but struggling to get that first book published? Does the goal of being an author seem too lofty, or thoughts of having multiple books and making a full-time living are as fantastical as living in Cinderella’s Castle? Welcome to Discovered Wordsmiths, a podcast.
Where aspiring authors can be heard. Join Steven Schneider as he finds and talks to authors you may not know, but authors that have gotten their foot on the author career path, hear what they’ve done to get there and where they want to go. Now settle back. It’s time for a bit of inspiration and advice.
Come listen to today’s discovered wordsmith.
Stephen: Well ran. Welcome back, uh, part two, our writerly discussion. Now, um, before we get started on our topic, some, what are some things that you have learned about writing and you, you said you helped work on your grandfather’s memoirs and now you’re working on your own stuff. So what are some things you’ve learned about writing and publishing that you’re doing different or that you now realize you should have done different from the beginning?
Ran: The, I think the thing that I’ve learned most recent, um, is to write fast and write lots. So I used to be very deliberate. So I, I had five different people in my head, uh, yelling at me as I was trying to type out a story. Um, you know, I had, uh, I had me was trying to like, you know, write a plot, write a, a character.
Then I had the editor going in and saying, oh, you better put in some more description, or, no, that’s the. Crappy word, you gotta find a different verb. I had someone else who go, well, that would never happen. I had someone else go, you know, well that completely throws off your plot, so you better not include that.
You know? So if I, like, if I put out 200 words in a particular session, I’d count myself like, that was a good day for me. You know? And it, I mean, it’s not about word count, but like it was. It was tough, like I, you know, shadow boxing with every, every time I sat down to write and what I’ve learned, um, Recently, what I’m doing differently is I just, you know, thanks everybody.
Go have a seat in the waiting room and I’ll bring you in when I need you. Right. So I just, I just like, I just take off, you know, it’s like a movie. I don’t know what’s gonna happen or I have a vague idea. Right. Um, and I just go, go, go. And then when I get that first, even if it’s just like a first scene or a protagonist, then I might invite the plot person, right?
The plot person come back in, okay, help me work out what’s gonna happen. Like, what is this story about? How are we gonna get the. The conflict in there and the, the, the important choice that the protagonist is gonna make. Okay, good. Thank you very much. Go back to the waiting room. I’m gonna go back to writing.
Right. Compartmentalizing that and not getting in my own way when I’m trying to write.
Stephen: I’ve kind of been doing the same thing. Let me ask, um, when you sit down and then you just write and write and write and write, do you then go back and you just said you bring in others, uh, you, you go back and edit. How much revision do you find that you’re doing?
Ran: depends on the story, honestly. It depends on the story. Like some stories come out and they’re just, Fully formed, like they’re fully formed beings. And I might like, I might do revision, like, um, oh, I don’t like the name. You know, I might change the, the names like, but I’m not really doing any, uh, any plotting.
Um, I’m not, I’m just trying to like, bring it a little bit more to life cuz it’s a little bit too much of a sketch. Right. Um, other. Yeah, others. Um, it’s very different where others it’s, it’s like, you know what, this was actually a backstory and I’m not even gonna include it. You know, this was just so that I got to know the character and I still have a whole book to write about it.
You know, so it really, really depends on the project. And it depends. Okay. So yeah, I think it also depends on where I’m at, right? Like, if I’m tired, I tend to have to do a lot more revision. Like if I’m tired writing that first, um, draft or, or setting the armature down, then I find I have to do more revision later.
Um, if I’m bright and shiny and I’ve, I’m on vacation, um, and I get to do it the whole day, um, then it tends to need less revision.
Stephen: So how, how much outlining do you tend to do before you start your writing?
Ran: Again, it depends on the project. Um, okay. It really does. Um, I’m still finding my way around with that.
So I, here’s, here’s a short answer. Um, the longer the project, the more outlining I do. So if it’s a novel, um, and I have a couple of them, I pretty much have. Um, everything outlined, or at least I would say three quar. Like I’ll have an ending that I want and I’ll have a beginning that I want. And the middle might be a little bit fuzzy around the details, but I have, I have a lot of it mapped out.
Um, if I’m doing a short story, um, I might have, um, a protagonist, a conflict, a choice, go, you know, and then I just, Go through it. So very little outlining in that, in that way.
Stephen: A And do you find that your process of doing that has changed as you’ve written more?
Ran: A hundred percent. A hundred
Stephen: percent. Okay. And I ask, cuz I’ve discovered about myself, kind of the same thing that I was so worried about, oh my gosh, is this sentence, uh, the best it could be?
Is it structured right? Should I add this word or change this? And I was bogged down and I would lose track of the story. Yeah. And what I’m doing now more often is just sitting down and writing mm-hmm. And getting the story out. But it’s. Like you said, it’s almost a set piece. It’s like clunky, you know?
Yeah. He walked over here, grabbed the door handle. Yeah. Turned it, you know, stuff that I don’t need. Um, and, and when I go back and reread it and revise it and edit it, I don’t have to worry about the story. It’s already there. I can just focus on what this character’s saying, or let’s take this sentence out or rewrite it this way.
And it makes the story much more elegant, even though the. Basic story is already
Ran: there. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And I, I think, I mean it’s, you know, it’s kind of like self-growth, right? You’re never really done. Um, cuz you, you, you, uh, your, my, you know, my voice has changed the more I write, like it’s changing.
Um, the, the, I used to like obsessively plot everything until I realized that. Plotting was the way that I was dealing with my insecurity, right? As long as I was plotting, I was working on the book and not writing it, which is what I was really terrified of doing, right? Um, and so once I learned, uh, about, you know, the mental gymnastics that I was going through, I thought, well, why don’t you just relax on that a little bit?
Right? And so to have that sort of, That waiting room where it was like, I’ve got my plotter, I’ve got my internal editor, I’ve got my inner critic, you know, they’re waiting in the background. Um, you know, I, I find that those voices kind of get more quiet because I, I, I will call on you, you know, you will have your appointment with the story, so just sit there for a little bit.
But that’s something that I. You know that I didn’t, I didn’t come with, right. That’s something that developed over time, and the more I write, the more confident I become, and. And the more you internalize some of those tools that you learn, right? So I used to not have any conflict, you know, or not have any choice in my stories.
Like there was no plot. It was just a person kinda moving throughout the day, right? And then once I started reading up on that and learning about that, now it’s almost like stories, cons. Sometimes come almost fully formed, because as I’m coming up with the story, I’ve already internalized some of those things.
I’ve got a pace that’s my own. Um, you know, so, so yeah. So, and I think that’ll continue to change, right? It’ll continue. I’ll have some systems that maybe I use longer term, but. Um, I think, you know, the important thing for me is to be responsive to that change, right? To be responsive to my own growth, to allow that to happen.
Stephen: And I think that’s great. And because we wanted to talk about mental health, uh, and writers, and that is kind of like a tactic you’ve started to use to help your mental health so you don’t go crazy wanting to write and things piling up. Uh, And, and I kind of have done the same thing. So you said you worked in a mental health facility.
What aspects of mental health and writing, uh, do you have you found of interest or that you, you’re focused on?
Ran: So, um, so as someone with lived experience, right? Like I, I’ve, um, I’ve had my, my, you know, depression is kind of a, an old friend, right? It’s, it’s a family friend that has been around that comes and goes and that’s, uh, that’s been there for a while and I used to hate it and I used to, you know, wrestle with it and resist it.
And, and so some of it is, is lived experience and some of it is that there’s this study. This fascinated me. So there was this study that was done, um, on, uh, occupations and, and depression and how many, like what, what professions had the highest incidents of people, uh, with depression, and you would expect.
And it, and it bore out, um, that people like first responders, right? Like high stress, a lot of trauma, a lot of, uh, you know, uh, difficult situations that they get into have a very high incidence of, of depression. But the surprise to me, and really it shouldn’t have been a surprise, is that the, the most depressed occupation, um, are actually artists.
So more artists struggle with depression than, than any other, um, occupation. At least in this study and they broke it down. So O of artists writers at their most depression and then of writers. Oh, poets. Yeah, poets. Now, you know, looking at it backwards, you’re like, well, duh. Right. Like, it, it like having, you know, sort of the, the image of the tortured genius artist is, it’s, I mean, it’s a stereotype, right?
It’s there. Um, but the reason that that helped me is because I thought, you know, we have this internalized stigma and shame. Around, um, what our, our mental health challenges do to us, right? So if I can’t get up out of bed for a week, um, or longer, right? We all have different, different forms of, of how this manifests for us.
But we, we can tend to get really d we’re a burden on other people. We’re not productive. What is wrong with me? Um, and it’s one of the reasons we hide it so much, right? And so, right, to recognize that I’m an exalted company, right? Like to recognize that, to recognize that, you know, it’s not just me. Um, and it’s not, uh, it’s not just.
You know, uh, uh, uh, people on the fringes. It’s actually like some really great minds. People that I admire, people that I look up to have also had the same struggle. And so that helps me to get over a little bit of my shame, right? Like it has helped me kind of engage with it and kind of go, okay, so. If we’re gonna be roommates, right?
If you’re gonna be a a, a repeat visitor in my life, then I’m gonna learn to live with you. Like, what is it that, um, as a writer, um, as a, as a wife, as a, you know, as a human being, as a friend, as a coworker, how are we gonna live together? And so that started me on my, on my journey. And I think, I don’t think I’m alone in this.
I think a lot of us writers, uh, experience this. And so, so yeah. That’s why I thought I would choose that.
Stephen: Yeah, absolutely. Um, and I think it’s interesting, the, the I characteristic of creative in writing seems to be some sort of mental health or mm-hmm. Depression and that, I mean, you, you know, why do you think, uh, an artist would cut off their ear, you know, Yeah.
Um, and, and I know for me, uh, the beginning of the year has traditionally been kind of a low point. Uh, I really enjoy the holidays. I like being with my family. I like doing all the things at the holidays. Yes. And then the new year would come and I’d always feel like I didn’t do enough or get, get enough holiday in or, and, and maybe I could have been happier.
You know, just all those things that pile up in your head. Yeah. So, I’ve learned, uh, from that and also going through a really rough divorce. I’ve learned little tricks to help myself. Yes. And one of them is now in January, we made it Star Wars month cause I love Star Wars, so it gives me something to look forward to.
I, I have all the Star Wars movies and books and games to play and Yes. And I’m like, oh, even though the holidays are over, oh boy, I’m going to spend my next month. Uh, doing Star Wars stuff. Yes. And that helps.
Ran: Yes. And um, many of your listeners will not know, but your, the wallpaper behind you, every time I see you on camera, the Star Wars paper and I love it.
I love it.
Stephen: I’ve got a couple posters I need to get up right above that. I just, I don’t wanna ruin the posters, so I want to get some like, uh, painter’s tape that will hold it, but won’t, uh, rip the paper up if I pull it off or something. Um, one of the other things, and I know. A lot of writers get down and, oh, my stuff’s not good.
It’s not mm-hmm. Stuff. And I have found if I just sit down and write and just start typing and letting it out, that by the end it’s like, I don’t wanna stop and I feel better. Yes. And I, I, I think that would be the, the thing I, you know, I’ve heard others say it. I’m not the only one. You know, it’s like just, right.
Even if you don’t feel like it, even if you just get a couple words in.
Ran: Yes. Yeah. And I would add to that, um, if, if I don’t know what to write about, right? Because sometimes, uh, depression can manifest for me as just like, I have nothing in my brain, like I feel numb, right? And there’s nothing in my brain.
I’ve got no ideas. I suck. Right? And, um, a, a trick that I do is describe what you’re feeling right now. Like, describe it, like if your feeling was a tree, if your feeling was a, you know, if, if it was a character, if it was a whatever it, like, describe in minute detail what it feels like for you right now.
And that can sometimes just get over that block, right? Of like, staring at a block, at a, at a blank page. And, and even to, you know, I started, um, late last year. Um, enough of screens, right? I spent my life on a screen and, but I don’t wanna give up the writing, and I just thought I’m gonna do it longhand just to see, right?
Like, just to see what that’s like. So I started a journal and I just write longhand, like, don’t, like if you are a writer in your soul, don’t let anything stop you from writing.
Stephen: I, I agree. And that’s, You know when, when, well, why do you write, you know, I even asked that question. You know, what made you start that?
Right? And, and the best answer, and if this doesn’t feel like you, maybe there’s other pursuits you should look at, but I if, if you write because you have to, there’s just no other option. Yeah. Then that definitely makes you a writer. Yeah. And I think people are afraid. Sometimes to write because oh my gosh, if I write, then I’ll get it done.
And that means other people have to read it and then they get afraid of that and it holds ’em back. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. But, uh, you know, we’re both in the same mastermind group and other people have read our stuff and we get feedback and it’s not always, this was great. I loved it. It’s like, yeah, this kind of sucked, you know?
Yeah. Um, but that’s actually better. I, I. I have a problem in today’s world with the way par a lot of parents raise kids. Mm-hmm. Um, and they, you know, they, they call it the helicopter parenting where the parent’s like always there. Yeah. You know, keeping Johnny from scraping their knee, keeping Johnny from, uh, getting upset, keeping, uh, little Susie from having to deal with any problems in life, you know?
Right. The kid gets a bad grade nowadays. Well, you know, before a kid would get a bad grade come home and dad would cuff him upside the head and say, you better buckle down and do better. Oh my God. Now I’m afraid of dad. I better work hard. Right. Well, not now. Kids get a bad grade and the parents go running the school and yell at the teacher.
Why’d you give him a bad grade? Well, cause they earned a bad grade, so. You know, and kids go to field day or sports and everybody gets a participation ribbon, well then who cares about competing and trying. Yeah. And I think there’s a lot of anxiety in our culture because of that.
Ran: Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, the, the, the things that have helped me with that is the idea of, um, you know, most improved.
Right. The idea of it’s not about me, uh, necessarily being the best. It’s about can I be better than I was yesterday? Right? Absolutely. It’s story better than the story I wrote a year ago. Am I better? And so, and, and the other thing that I really, um, that I really appreciate about receiving feedback is, um, first of all, you develop that thicker skin, right?
It’s just words. It’s just words. Nobody’s saying that you suck. You know, your story might suck, but they’re not saying that you suck. And so how do
Stephen: we, and if you have the right. If you have the right people, that’s what you want because you want to get better.
Ran: Yes. Yes. Exactly. Exactly. And you, you, how do you know, um, what can be improved?
Until you have that. So, um, for, for my story that, you know, that I thought was, was brilliant that I, that I talked about, that I wrote for, um, for the anthology, I felt really confident about it. I didn’t think it was brilliant necessarily, but I was really confident about it. It was like, this is the best thing I’ve written, right.
I’m really happy with this. And I, and I gave it to some friends to, to kind of do a beta read and they pointed something out and they. They pointed the same thing out. And I thought, isn’t that interesting? Because if I really deeply soul searched, that was bugging me too. So the way I looked at it, I mean, don’t get me wrong, okay, so you listeners out there, don’t get me wrong, um, it took me a couple of days.
To get my, to pull my socks back up. Right? Like I was a little bit like, you mean it’s not perfect? Like it was, it was tough, but I’m very like, I’m very sensitive. So for you, highly sensitive people out there, like you are not alone. You can still do this. But what, you know, I got back up on my feet first of all.
I’m kind of diverging here, but I picked people who, who love me and believe in me as a writer, right? So that right away I had something that I kept reminding myself of, they’re just helping you, like, make that story even better because they believe in you. They wanted to read it, right? They were interested in reading it, and you trust them.
You trust their judgment, right? So I picked those people very carefully. So that’s number one. Um, but then I also, uh, I also. When I was really honest with myself, I was like, you know, that was bugging me too. And that means that deep down inside myself, I was thinking in the right direction, right? Like I, there was something that was bothering me too.
I could see that as well. And sometimes we need each other to bring that out in us, you know?
Stephen: Yes. And one of the biggest things that helps with the fear and mm-hmm. With the, the hopeless feeling of I’m no good and all that, is that confidence that, you know, you can do it. And the it and a lot of people peop friends and family good, Nate good, you know, they mean well.
That they’ll read your story and say, wow, this was really good. I liked it. But that doesn’t help you as a writer, that doesn’t help you grow and without growing your self-confidence in your writing is not going to get better. No. You actually need somebody like Jay, uh, to read your stuff and say, okay, here’s how it, it needs to improve.
Here’s what it needs better. You know, Jay is not. Being mean or attacking you or talking down to you as a person. He is like, I really like you and I want to help you. Yeah. That’s why I’m telling you this isn’t good enough. And I think a lot of writers miss that. So when someone tells, you know, and what happens is they write something, throw it up on Amazon for sale, and then they get like 21 star reviews and they’re like, oh man, I suck.
And they get more depressed. So yeah, you know, you, you have to do that. It’s the same. With the kids. I, I, my thing is, I say that kids nowadays don’t climb enough trees. Right? Uh, when my kids were growing up, they had friends that would come over that were afraid to climb a tree because they’d never done it.
And they were afraid they’d get hurt or whatever, and they didn’t do it. And I’m like, I, if kids climb more trees, then when it’s time to drive, they can do that. When it’s time to, uh, go to a, an interview for a job, they can do that, you know, it no longer scares them. Um, I think, you know,
Ran: yeah. I, I think the, the key to that to make it successful, you know, if you’re thinking to yourself, well, how do I foster.
You know, um, courage, like how do I foster courage and curiosity and not, not foster fear, right? In my kid. Um, I think the, the, the thing that probably helps, and it’s helped me, um, not so much as a kid, but as an, as a grownup, as an adult, is, To recognize and to express that this comes from a loving place, right?
This comes from a place where I believe in you. Like, I love this. I think you’re talented. I think you’re awesome. All of those things are good things to repeat, but to to foster in, uh, the person a sense that. I can do this, right? I can do this and I can, uh, learn from my mistakes. I can get a mistake, fall down, and get back up and get back on the horse because I believe in myself, right?
And that’s what positive feedback can give you. Like positive in the sense of, you know, this was awesome. I love this. How about you try this next time, right? Or can you make this clearer next time? Right.
Stephen: And, and while someone reading your story and saying, yeah, that was good. I liked it. Feels good for the moment.
It doesn’t help you. You always have to go to that person. Yeah. And they’ll tell you the same thing on every story. Yeah. But when you get somebody that helps you improve, then you have more confidence and you know, it is a good story. A hundred
Ran: percent. A hundred percent. And you know, for mental health, like I have, you know, I, I, when I was starting on my journey, I would have specific people that I would go to for specific things, right?
So if I was feeling really down on myself, then I had like one or two friends that I knew were just gonna give me love. Like that’s all that, like all they were good for. That’s not what I mean. But like they were so good at that. I would talk to them and I would feel really great. And there were days when that’s all I could handle.
I just wanted to get some love and. And I would go to them for that. And then there’s other times where I felt a little bit more brave, right? I knew that there were things that I wanted to work on. I wanted to be a better human being. I wanted to learn. And for that, I needed someone to challenge me. So then I had other friends who were good at that and I knew they loved me, but they, that’s not where they excelled.
Where they excelled was pointing out the, my pain points, the points where I could improve. So I would go to them and go, keep me gentle with me, but I wanna hear it. I’m ready. I’m, I’m good. I wanna hear what can I do to improve? And that’s what I would get from them, right? And so if we can, you know, even imparting that, right?
Teaching that, um, pick your people, right? Pick your people, pick the people that, uh, that you want feedback from, and pick the people where, you know, today’s a really bad day and I just need some love. Go to somebody else, right?
Stephen: Absolutely. Working at the where you work, what other things have you seen with the populace in general that.
You would suggest maybe, uh, for people who are dealing with other mental health problems besides depression or anxiety, um, I know people that are dealing with borderline personality and they don’t even really know that their actions, you know, are hurting others in that. So do you have, without, you know, obviously getting yourself in trouble, do you have any, any suggestions for people that deal with other mental health issues?
Ran: Um, no, I do. Ok. So here’s the thing. I’m not a therapist, right. I’m not a psychotherapist that, that’s who I do work with, right?
Stephen: Like our, our, yeah. And just so everybody knows, none of this is medical advice. This is just a couple people chatting about our experiences. Exactly.
Ran: But you know, what you’re pointing out though is, is, um, Is one of the, is a serious issue.
Like it’s, it’s difficult. Um, borderline personality disorder, especially like you, you hit on one that’s really difficult. Um, because I mean, there are people who don’t even recognize it, right? And, and yet it is a real thing. They have done brain imaging. The, the, the brain scans of people with b p D are. Um, are different, um, than, than other brains.
Um, it is a real thing. It’s difficult to find someone who will diagnose you. Right. Um, but then there’s the other piece is once you have that diagnosis, there’s a stigma attached. Yes. Where some people will not work with you. If you’ve got borderline, they will not work with you because you’re labeled as being really difficult to work with.
You’re prone to anger, you’re prone to losing your mind. Right? Like you’re prone to. So there’s, and, and this is not just borderline, but it’s borderline is is a perfect example of that, of the stigma that can exist. Um, I would say, I mean the, if you’re, if you are someone who, um, who, who struggles with a mental illness, I would say keep asking for help and that maybe that means that you ask for help.
To get help, right? Maybe that means, um, I don’t have the courage to go out there and look for help. Can I speak with a, a trusted friend or a trusted family member? Can you help me find, can you come with me? Can you be on the phone with me as I try to get help? Right? Um, but help. Is available. That’s the thing, you might have to knock on several doors, especially during a pandemic.
Um, but keep asking cause the help is out there. Um, but there’s another, there’s another, um, uh, segment of the population that deals with mental illness that I don’t wanna forget. And that’s the people who love. People who have a mental illness. So parents of children, right? Um, spouses, uh, friends, family members of people who see their loved ones struggling, and yet what can they do about it, right?
And, and so as someone who’s both a spouse, um, and as someone with lived experience where I feel. Awful. Like when I’m, when I’m in, in a slump, it’s so difficult for me to not have the guilt of what I’m putting, you know, my spouse and my family through, right? So when you’re a family member or when you’re a spouse, um, get help and support for you.
Because there’s, there’s a, a, a thing, you know, called compassion fatigue. There’s caregiver fatigue. Those are real things. And so your own mental, uh, wellness can suffer when you have someone who’s struggling. Uh, that’s near and dear to you,
Stephen: a absolutely. And we, we chatted a bit about this before the podcast.
Mm-hmm. Um, I’ve kind of had to deal with both. I have an ex that. The pro, uh, you mentioned, uh, how hard borderline is. Yeah. And especially if you’re going through the court system. Yeah. Um, because it’s difficult to diagnose. A lot of people don’t want to diagnose it. Um, there’s no cure and there’s no drugs to take.
And most of the time the people can have a family can have a job. So as far as most of. The society is concerned, they’re fine. Mm-hmm. And that, but when you deal with them closely, day to day, you see the issues and the problems. Yes. And it’s hard to deal with that when no one really believes you. Plus people with B p D tend to not believe that they have it.
And yes, it just causes problems. Yes,
Ran: yes. It’s always someone else’s. So I. Right. So it’s, it can be, I mean, mental illness is tricky because it lies to you whether it’s depression and you feel like you’re the lowest human being and you know, people would be better off without you. That’s a lie. And it’s the same thing with B p D, where it’s everybody else’s fault and it’s, I’m not responsible for anything that’s also a lie.
Right, right, right. So it’s very, but the, there is good news for B P D. Um, there’s a treatment that’s come out called, uh, dialectical Behavior Therapy and it’s DBT for short and it is extremely, um, helpful. It’s extremely, extremely helpful. Um, and there are, uh, again, there’s. It’s difficult. It’s tricky. It’s not like just prescribing an antidepressant.
You have to, you have to play around with it for a bit. Have a really good prescribing psychiatrist who’s familiar with B p D and can help you navigate what best, uh, medications. But they’re medications that can help you during your recovery process. It may not be that you need to take it forever. Um, it may be that you do, it may be that you don’t.
Um, but it can help you during that, that. Phase where you’re learning those D B T skills that can help you kind of manage yourself, be better.
Stephen: And the problem is it’s a lot like. An alcoholic that the person has to Oh yeah. Understand they have a problem and want the help. Yeah, absolutely. Which, when I was dealing with somebody with that, they didn’t believe it.
It wasn’t them. Uh, so they’ve still never had help and it caused problems in my life for years. Yeah. Um, and there’s, it’s not a simple, you know, just, uh, Take this medicine or anything? No, it’s not. It’s not. But I, I will say, uh, because I had no other outlet that got me on my path to writing, and I have some non-fiction books, uh, dealing with that.
So I. That helped get it, get outta my system than dealing with the issues. Um, so yeah.
Ran: Liner notes too. Like you should put, you should definitely make that available. Or, or, or tell people, tell your listeners how to get ahold of that
Stephen: writing too. Okay. Uh, uh, most people don’t know, uh, about that, uh, pen name of mine.
I, I haven’t talked a whole lot about it, mostly because in the past I was afraid of. Uh, the person I know that prompted all of this coming back, you know, just being vindictive just because, yeah. Yeah. Which, which is an issue. Jumping a little bit off of this, getting, lightening it up just a bit. Uh, one of the things for writers I know.
If you’re feeling down, depressed, uh, or, you know, you just don’t feel like writing. One of the things I learned was how other things can trigger your moods. Mm-hmm. And I know Tony Robbins talks a lot about this if you listen to some of his stuff. Um, but if you associate banana bread with waking up on a Saturday morning to your mother cooking, and it always, you know, fills you with these feelings of home.
Then if you’re feeling down and you bake banana bread, it’ll help bring your mood up. Yeah. Um, for me, uh, music is a big one. I have a playlist that’s like every favorite song in my life that I won’t change the radio to. And if I’m feeling the least bit, if I feel angry or depressed at all, listening to that playlist, even just skipping around listening to a couple songs, it, it puts me in a much better mood.
Ran: It’s so funny that you mentioned that because I, I just, uh, did, did a playlist in the last couple of days and it’s, it, I call it look up and it’s just, Positive reinforcement songs like you can do it, you know, I believe in You, all that kinda stuff. Just, and I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s like, since last Thursday or, or what, what it is that I just needed.
Some of that pick me up. But they’re, they’re not all like, uh, peppy songs. Some of them are, have a really, like a slow, mellow beat, but they’re all like, the lyrics are all positive. So Absolutely. I mean, any of those things that can. Um, you know, and the, the, the reverse is also true. It, it wasn’t until someone pointed it out to me that I realized that some music that I listen to, even though I love it, gets me in a funk.
Right. Or, or heightens, yeah. Like heightens or, or lowers, um, you know, that, that funk that I might be feeling. And so I, I, you know, I try to be, Cognizant, be mindful. Be aware of, uh, what I’m surrounding myself with, you know, what I’m doing. Um, uh, and sometimes challenge myself, right? Like, push myself a little bit out of my comfort zone, some when sometimes I don’t feel like going out for a walk.
But on a sunny day, um, I need to have that light in. Right. Especially in January and February. I need to have that light. Yeah. Um, coming into my eyeballs and so, you know, so to just, even if it, and then to chunk it down, right? Like, I, I may not necessarily go for a three hour walk, right? But how about if I go outside and, and walk to the end of the road and back?
That’s already better than nothing, you know? And sometimes that’s all I can manage, but that’s okay. Right. That’s the point. That’s okay.
Stephen: And. And I think a, a lot of people dismiss the impact of your health, of getting exercise and getting moving and what you eat. Um, it, it, it becomes, you know, I’m depressed, I don’t feel good, so I’m going to.
Eat all this ice cream and well, now I’ve gained weight and now I’m more depressed. And it, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s self replicating on itself. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and I know that pe there are people immediately go jump on. Well, depression, you can’t always control that and help that. Which is why, like you said earlier, it’s important to have people that are around to, you know, love you enough to say, Hey, you have a problem.
Mm-hmm. Let’s take care of this.
Ran: Mm-hmm. And that’s true. That’s absolutely true. Um, you know, and I think, so here’s, here’s how I conceive of it, right? So, um, I don’t have control over the fact that I have, that I could sometimes suffer with depression. Um, I don’t have control over when it comes to me, um, or even what happens when it comes to me.
But I do have control over what I do with it, right? And so, so it’s like I’m gonna wrestle this thing. For even just a tiny weenie bit of control over it. Right? And it’s not gonna cure it. I mean, it’s not, you know, I’m not talking about, oh, just go for a walk. You’ll feel better. You know, chin up. Like, listen to some happy music.
No wonder you’re depressed. That’s not. What I’m talking about, right? I’m talking about, um, what can I do when I cannot get up in the morning and I cannot get up out of bed and, and I just grunt. That is the extent of my use of language is grunting. Um, can I do one thing? Can I do one thing that day? Right?
And that might be well. I’m gonna get up and make a cup of tea for my wife. That is the one thing that I can manage to, can I do that? Right? And I try and sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. That’s okay. But at least I’ve, I’ve, I haven’t given to it. Fully, completely for 24 hours, right?
Stephen: Uh, with that, one of the things I learned from Tony Robbins is you can set other triggers for yourself.
Uh, just as an example, uh, when you’re in a good mood, when you’re listening to a good song, watching a good movie, uh, whatever. If you do anything, uh, like take your thumb and tap your. Your middle finger with your thumb, both hands, right? And that starts to associate doing that motion with your mood. So then when you are in a depressed state, that when you do that, it helps put you in the mood you were in when you trained yourself, essentially.
Yeah. So I, I, I’m not saying that works for everything and everybody. But, uh, I found when I was dealing with all the sorts of issues with, uh, other people, that any of these little things, you do ’em together and they can
Ran: help. Yeah. You know, my position on this is try everything, right? Like, just become a sponge.
Read every book. Um, listen to every podcast, like, just because you never know, there might be a little bit like, so develop your own toolkit. Right. Develop your own toolbox, right? Yes. So when you’re right, when you’re, uh, feel like you’re under the throws, pop it open and try something, right? The more tools you have, um, the, the, the, the more you can advocate for yourself, uh, in those moments, right?
And, and sometimes it. Just, you know, it’s kind of like, you know, I talked to, to some friends of mine when I, when I help them through it, when I support them through it, it’s, it’s kind of like the flu sometimes, right? I know it’s coming, you know, I feel like I’m coming down with something. Oh, here it is. And down we go.
Right? And I know it’s gonna, it’s not gonna last forever. That’s a tool, just that notion. It’s not gonna last forever. Even though there’s a fear, there’s a fear that sets in that, oh my God, this is gonna, this is, this is it. This is the big one and I’m not gonna survive it. Right. That’s. Again, one of those lies, right?
Um, so it is any, any little thing that I can do, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and then I just go back into the toolbox and try something else. And sometimes that tool is. I’m gonna ask for a cup of tea. I’m gonna surround myself in comforters, bring my dog up onto the bed, and I’m gonna wait it out.
I’m not gonna fight it. I’m not gonna be down on myself for it. I’m just gonna give myself permission to quote, be sick unquote, you know? And then 24 hours from now, I’ll give it another go. We’ll, reexamine, where are we at? What does it look like today? Right.
Stephen: And just again, we’re, we’re writers. We’re not medical.
These are just things that have worked for us and may work for others. Um, I know, uh, it took us a long time, uh, to find a counselor. I. For, uh, one of my kids, uh, that understood some of the problems, uh, to deal with it. It’s nothing that I was able to deal with on my own. So, again, if you feel this way in that having someone help you or, or, you know, push you, uh, finding that right doctor, uh, it’s essential.
Ran: The right doctor, the right therapist,
Stephen: yeah. Uh, right. Medicine if needed or whatever. But I, but I definitely, I have seen also, you know, uh, don’t try the self re self-medication thing or, oh, these are natural herbs. They’re going to help. Uh, you know, cuz. I, I’ve argued, I’ve, I’ve, I have some people I know that they’ll say, oh, I’m taking this, that, and the other thing cuz it helps with this and that.
And I’m like, how do you know that? Because you read it on the internet. They’re like, oh, but it’s all natural, so it must be healthy. Okay, well you know what? Scorpion venom is all natural, but I don’t see you sticking yourself with that. So it’s a stupid argument. You, you know, in any of these cases, you’ve gotta use your brain and think, not just.
And get some help. You know, whatever’s someone
Ran: Yeah, like get some help. There are supportive therapies, but like, do, do it with the help of a naturopath. Right. Or, or an acupuncture. Like, like, get some help. Don’t do, don’t take on this journey by yourself. Right. Like, we’re not, we’re, we’re meant to, to do this in, in groups.
You know, we’re meant to do this in tribes. We’re meant to do this in community, not alone.
Stephen: Right, right. All right. So what was the story you wrote for Jay’s anthology?
Ran: It was called emotional baggage. Must be checked.
Stephen: That’s cool.
Ran: So it’s, um, yeah, so it’s a, actually, it’s funny that you ask because it does, um, It does tie in with, with mental health or the, the protagonist is someone who, um, who, who has, uh, so it’s kind of, Serena has a surreal bent.
So the, the, the, the, the mental blocks that they’re experiencing are actual baggage. There’s a, an actual backpack that she carries around with
Stephen: her. Oh, nice. All right. Well ran, uh, to, to wrap things up, do you have any, uh, advice for new authors?
Ran: Oh, um, keep at it. I mean, that’s the only thing that, that I can think of right now, um, is, you know, you’re, you’re on your own journey.
Your own journey doesn’t look like anybody else’s. Although there might be stretches and there might be elements that look like mine or look like Stevens or look like Jay’s or, or anyone else. Um, so we can learn from each other. Um, but, but just keep at it, you know, whenever you hit a block. Um, whether it’s in your craft, whether it’s in your story, or whether it’s within yourself that you’re just not writing and you don’t know why, um, be patient with yourself.
Right? Be patient and just. Set the intention that you’re going to keep going. Just keep going, learn from it. Ask questions. Um, get together in community with other writers and ask them how they manage, uh, what the, the challenge that you’re going through. Just don’t give up. Just keep writing. There’s a story that you need to tell that only you can tell that we all need to hear.
Stephen: Great. And it’s appreciated and I totally agree. Well, ran, it was really fun talking to you today and maybe, uh, we’ve helped some people out there. That’d be great.
Ran: That would be great.
Stephen: I, I look forward to, uh, your upcoming books and can’t wait to find out more.
Ran: Excellent. Thank you so much.
Stephen: Great. Thanks Fran. You have a great day. Bye.
Ran: Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author discuss the road they’ve traveled, and maybe sometime in the near future it might be you.