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How I Get Out of a Writing Funk

For this blog chain, Elana has a question and a demand ;-)

When you're in a pool of writing funk, how do you get out?
and
I want your favorite funny and/or thing that makes you happy.
Since her definition of "writing funk" was so good, here it is:
Not sure what the Pool of Writing Funk is? Maybe you've heard of the Lake of Self-Doubt. No? The Ocean of What-the-heck-am-I-doing? Or maybe each rain drop in your life seems to whisper, "You're not good enough." These all contribute to the pool.

So...what do I do? Well, first, I use denial. Seriously. See, I don't really believe in Writer's Block. I believe there is always a project you can be working on, so there's really no excuse to not write. If I'm completely stymied by a current project, I pull out an old one and edit away. (It helps that I enjoy editing.) Plus, if I'm plagued by thoughts like "I'm not good enough" and "What was I thinking?", editing helps. After all, I'm working to make my stuff better.

Another trick: I take a break. Now, I write each and every day, for the most part, and I have for years. I always have some set-aside time at the end of the day. But once in a while I'm just too tired, or I'm feeling stressed and overworked. In those situations, I'll sometimes deliberately take a day or two off. After two days, I'm usually ready to dive back in. I believe it's important to give yourself permission from time to time to set aside even writing. I even did this during NaNoWriMo. Just don't set your work aside for more than a couple days, or you'll get out of the habit of writing. And don't take too many "vacations" from your writing because you're in a funk. A few times a month (think like 1-3) is plenty.

As for when I just feel wholly inadequate and like I'm never going to make it as a writer...well, that kind of solves itself. I never really became a writer; I just realized I was a writer. If I ever really tried to convince myself I was going to quit writing, I think I'd have a panic attack. For me writing is like breathing -- a necessary, life-sustaining act.

So while I sometimes throw myself on the proverbial floor and wallow in a funk of self-pity, I do try to limit the time I spend there. After two or three days, it's time to pick myself up and figure out what I'm going to do about the problem. I have some great books on writing, so sometimes I pull those out and learn how to be a better writer. Or maybe I gather information on local writing conferences. Or read some agents' blogs so I can better understand the publishing biz.

Sometimes it also helps to help someone else with their writing. For example, I go check out the Query Review area over on the QueryTracker.net Forum. A lot of times there's someone just starting out with a query, and I can help them see a different approach. That also reminds me that I have a lot to offer others; that is, I'm an accomplished enough writer that I believe my help is useful

I want your favorite funny and/or thing that makes you happy.

All right, you can laugh at this if you like, but the thing that always makes me happy, no matter what, is my pets. One really likes to watch TV with me, so sometimes we'll curl up with a good movie or an episode of a television show I truly adore (which pretty much means Farscape or Supernatural), and for an hour or two I'm engrossed in something else and also spending time with my pet. (Research actually shows that petting your resident furball reduces stress and even produces physiological benefits like lowered blood pressure.)

I also have some places I can go online that are pretty much guaranteed to crack me up. icanhascheezburger.com is one; failblog.org is another.


As always, be sure to check out Kate's post (before mine) and Michelle's post (after mine), as well as the other posts in the chain!

7 Comments:

  1. Sandra said...
    Great post! I agree sometimes you need to take a short break from writing to replenish the spring of inspiration.
    ElanaJ said...
    Awesome post, Archy! Love the pictures. And ever since you told me to give myself a break, that has really helped me. (demand, scoff) :)
    celticqueen said...
    Ahhh, you had me at lolcats :D That one completely cracks me up too...just the other day my daughter was trying to force our cat into her doll stroller. Poor thing :D

    I also take breaks. My problem is that my breaks last waaaaaay too long :D
    celticqueen said...
    And I love your blog's new look!!! Very shnazzy :D
    Mary Lindsey said...
    As always, your post hits home. Well done. And hey, nice new look to your blog, by the way. :)
    Kate Karyus Quinn said...
    I LOVE failblog! That is a great one that you posted, just too too funny.

    I also agree with the allowing yourself to sometimes just take a break, I did that while I was sick, but also like you mentioned since it was more like a week instead of a few days it was really hard to get myself going again when I felt better.
    H. L. Dyer said...
    You are a riot, Carolyn.

    "Denial" *snort*

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