The Writing Doldrums

I’ve hit that part of the writing process that every author* fears: the doldrums.

This is not a matter of not knowing where the story should go. For the past several weeks, I’ve had the basics of the story outlined. I don’t just know more or less where the story is going; I know exactly where it’s headed and it’s something I’ve been anticipating for months. It’s a very good direction for the novel and all the major storylines are resolved (minus a few that I like to leave open-ended because I’m annoying that way).

But I can’t write it.

For that matter, I can’t write anything. I’ve been trying to keep up the craft with some short stories, but those aren’t working out, either. Sure, I can put words on the page. That’s an easy task. And these words can say something, advance the plot in some way or another, but 150 words in, and I realize they are so vile that there is no point in continuing and I delete the whole thing, so no one else can see and I can forget they ever existed in the first place.

THAT is bad. And oh look, double-emphasis. I’m sure that’s some sort of sin that I should repent of later, but for now, I’ll leave it be. It’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever done.

But no, nothing is coming. This applies to other creative pursuits, too. The podcast takes up a lot of time, and even that has been sort of autopilot lately. Yes, I enjoy it, and I don’t want to stop any time in the next, oh, five years or so. But it’s become sort of an automatic thing.

And other creative projects I have? Forget it. They’re not happening. I don’t have the energy to do them in the end.

That’s one of the reasons the blog has been silent despite wanting to post something to it.

For the past six to eight weeks, whenever I get back from work, my creative energy is spent. I’ve not been good for a whole lot more than staring blankly at the wall or tablet or the dog or whatever happens to be right in front of my eyes, and I just don’t really want to think.

And right now, I’m not sure how to escape it. A career change is definitely in my future, but it is not in the immediate future for reasons I don’t want to go into right now. It could be the environment here, which as you are undoubtedly aware I am not a fan of. It could be any number of things.

What’s your advice on how to break it? I ask other writers, especially. How have you escaped it?

What can I do? My solution so far has been to force myself to write every day (except for the past three weeks where I can’t bring myself to do anything at all), but usually all that happens is I pull off a few hundred words and can’t keep a consistent tone or style. How might I break out of this?

*I have not spoken with every author, but I have confidence what I say is true.

4 thoughts on “The Writing Doldrums

  1. “In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?” Gabrielle Roth

    …Not sure if that quote was appropriate our not. I am curious what you’ve been reading lately, and if you’ve been able to visit museums our green spaces.

    If you’re surrounded by sources of inspiration and still stuck, you’re doing what I’ve been told to do…keep writing.

    • As a matter of fact, I went to one of the local museums just the other day! It was a good experience, and I intend to return. When it comes to green space, I live right beside a sizable green area–and in fact, if I didn’t have that, I’d go even more crazy.

      Reading is varied as always.

  2. I like DdC’s advice in some ways, Levi. In fact, the place that you live must have, I am sure, some green and quiet places in which to go. Something that I found to be of great help (though I have been shirking my own advice lately) is to go to the gym and just work out. Get sweaty and feel your heart pound with the exertion. There is some kind of biological release that I find triggers my own creativity afterwards (unfortunately accompanied by muscle soreness).
    Another thing is to go back to some lost hobby, or get back into the habit of calling up old friends and revisiting old memories. That helps me too. Which reminds me… I probably owe you, Robin, and Potoroo a phone call!

    • Now that you mention it, I’ve been wanting to restart my old coin collecting hobby.

      Exercise is something that happens daily, although I’ve slowed down some in this heat until I can get used to it.

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