July 26, 2013

How I Maintain a Writing Career with Bipolar Disorder

By Vicki M. Taylor

When I was asked to guest post for Southern Writers, I pondered the topic I would write about for a few days. Then it came to me. What’s more near and dear to my heart than writing? Living with Bipolar Disorder. So I put the two of them together and managed an article about how I maintain my writing career with Bipolar Disorder. I hope that you find something in it that inspires you.

I have Bipolar Disorder. But it doesn’t “have” me. I am an award winning author and blogger. I create stories for a living. I love what I do. Some days the writing comes easy and the words flow effortlessly from fingers to keyboard. However, there are times when I’m struggling with a bipolar episode that the route from mind to fingers is blocked and detours run rampant through my mind.

It’s like that in my head. I have roads that lead straight from thought to fingertips and then when a Bipolar episode occurs, whether it be mania or depression all kinds of detours occur in my thought patterns and I don’t know if I can make out the writing thoughts I want to express or if I’m even going to get a clear, coherent thought out.

But, I persevere. I won’t let the Bipolar get me down. Ever. I write anyway. I write because I have to. I write to get the characters’ voices out of my head and give them a life of their own. I write to keep me stable.

Living with Bipolar and writing requires a lot of planning ahead of time so that I have something to work on during my down cycles. Editing is easier during those times when the writing doesn’t come as easily. I find that I remain much more stable when I get an opportunity to write every day. It’s my release. It’s cathartic.

During up or manic times I can write like a fiend. The ideas and words flow so fast sometimes it’s hard to keep up with it all. I have filled three four-inch binders with ideas about stories I want to write. I do this just to get the ideas out of my head. I’ll see an article in the newspaper, or hear some snippet of conversation, or even have a dream that needs to be told and every one of those ideas go into the binders.

Writing has been a part of my life forever. I learned to read and write at age four and have been telling stories ever since. I love to journal. It keeps me sane. I can get out all the thoughts be they negative or positive about how I feel in my head and life. I think it’s a good idea for all writers to have a journal. You can keep your writing skills up and capture ideas and snippets of stories. I know a few people who journal on line, but I like the book and pen approach. It keeps my writing skills current and I like the privacy. What’s in my journal stays in my journal. It’s that most private part of me where I can totally be myself.

Having vivid dreams for me is a part of having Bipolar Disorder. I have a love/hate relationship with my dreams. I either love them because they jumpstart stories for me or hate them because I dream up a great story and then by morning, I’ve forgotten most of it. There are times, though, when I’ve been able to stay in the dream/wake stage and capture every word of a wonderful dream. In doing so, I have the entire plot and storyline for a great book. This has happened several times and for two of the books, that have been published: TRUST IN THE WIND and OUT FORJUSTICE.  I love that part of my bipolar and how it works intricately with my writing. So much positive work can come out of having a mental illness. I just have to know how to harness it correctly.

So, that’s what I do, every day. Work on harnessing the positive out of having Bipolar Disorder. It helps that I maintain a Wellness Recovery Action Plan and use it every day to determine my mood level, track triggers and follow the action plan to stay stable every day.

Stability is important for me as a writer. It means I can keep up with my promotion, work on new books, and stay active in my social media platform. It means I can write. And, I take advantage of doing that every day, whether I’m writing on the next book or keeping up with my blogs. I maintain my personal blog at and a writing coach blog at so that I can stay an active writer.

For those writers out there who struggle with the written word, I applaud you. For those who struggle with mental illness and still maintain a writing career I give you a standing ovation. You are my hero.
Award winning author, Vicki M. Taylor writes dramatic fiction with strong, unforgettable, real women characters involved in real life situations. Vicki M. Taylor attacks the hard issues and brings them to the forefront with a deftness that outshines most other authors. Her ability to sink her teeth into these headline issues and pull the reader into the story makes her one of the best authors of this new century. No issue is too controversial for Vicki. Murder, teenage suicide, domestic violence and more, you'll find Vicki M. Taylor's stories not only give you the harsh realities of the character's life but she wraps you up in their private emotional lives as well - daring you to not care, not feel, not read. She lives in Florida with her husband, their American Eskimo dog, and Sun Conure parrot.
Personal Page: Twitter:@VMTwriter

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