Writing Myself Out of a Writing Funk

Over the last few months, I’ve started to compile an ever-growing list of essay and article ideas. About my kids. About travel. About people I’d like to interview. It’s not a long list, but it’s an eclectic one and one I’m usually excited about.

I’m just not excited about those ideas today, because today is about my blog. The ideas on my list are reserved for pitching third-party outlets, as I’d like to eventually parlay them into stories I can sell for REAL money. But in trying to come up with an idea for this blog post, my brain decided to go on strike.

Have you ever tried to think of nothing? To rid your brain of all thought? I’ve attempted this trick lots of times since I was a little kid. It’s stupid, really. You just end up thinking about trying not to think about anything.

My brain hit a dubious milestone this weekend. Without even trying, it came as close as it’s ever come to empty. Empty of inspiration, that is. And I’ve reached the conclusion that I don’t like my brain when it’s empty.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been fairly busy with client work, which makes me happy. But it’s also mentally exhausting. I am in awe of writers who are able to continuously generate engaging, well-crafted content day in and day out. I admire their drive, their organizational skills, their efficiency and their creativity, especially since the delicate balance I’ve been trying to achieve between personal and professional writing continues to elude me.

I’m not sure how to get out of this funk. Do I accept that it’s ok to give myself a short break from time to time?  Do I try to seek inspiration beyond my usual sources? Do I try, yet again, to adhere to a strict schedule that leaves room for one or two days a week of personal writing time? Do I escape to a deserted island and write about the philosophical epiphanies I experience when I swim with clownfish and watch the sun set over the turquoise sea?

While talking to my dear friend earlier today about my inability to come up with an idea for this week’s blog entry, she suggested I write about my inability to come up with an idea for this week’s blog entry. I pooh-poohed her. Yet here I am, doing exactly that.

My smart friend figured that I’m not alone in this dilemma. I’m sure she’s right – so my dear writers, what do you do when you’re in a writing funk? Do you give yourself a pass for a period of time or do you proactively try to defeat it? Where do you turn for inspiration when your go-to wells run dry?

Please share your brilliant ideas in the comments. If you’re game and I get enough responses, I’d like to compile them into a future post about how to overcome what I’ve baptized the dreaded “empty brain syndrome.” Thank you, my dear hive mind!


15 thoughts on “Writing Myself Out of a Writing Funk”

  1. I think we all get there. At some point you need to refill your well. Sounds like you’re doing that though with the list. I have a few things I rely on to help my brain get back on track:
    1) Sometimes, when I let my blog stagnate it’s because I”m holding back. There’s something I want to write, but fear readers won’t like it. This year, I’m making peace with all my quirks and putting my thoughts out there.
    2) Shake things up. The daily grind can really dampen things especially when it’s school time and all I see is my house and the same route to and from the school everyday. Go someplace you normally wouldn’t. Maybe some quirky museum, maybe a different trail, maybe the laundromat (just because it’s great fun to see what people come in and what they bring). If you can’t get out of the rut, try to focus on the people or the scenery or the sounds of a typical place. Sometimes we take our usual haunts for granted. Going with the soul purpose of observing is refreshing.
    3) Find a writer friend or writer’s conference/workshop, author reading, or even just a website about writing. Sometimes the camaraderie sparks a fire, sometimes reading about writing, particularly in an area you usually avoid, flips the “on” switch.

    Good luck!

    1. Hi, Diane! I love what you have to say, particularly your idea to shake up normal routines. I’ve also occasionally been hesitant to write about a subject out of fear of how it’d be received – and you’re right, I think it’s important not to let such insecurities get in the way of our creative processes. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response – I look forward to following your blog!

  2. Hi Jennifer,
    I find that I can either write or I can’t write. There have been many times I’ve begun a blog post, got maybe a paragraph down and realised there was nothing of value so deleted and stayed away until the Muse took pity again.
    Like life, there are ebbs and flows, inhale, exhale and over time I’ve come to recognise if I’m in tune or not. When it’s no, I go away and find something else to do, places to be etc.; The worst feeling in the world is to be bound by routine which becomes resentment for the very thing we love to do. The best part is being able to fall out with your blog sometimes for a long time (for me anyway) and then return full of gusto without the blog even realising you were missing in the first place.

    To my mind, the blog is a personal street corner and I’ll only busk when I want to.. 🙂

  3. I’ve done both. 💖 I’ve given myself permission to take a break (even though I didn’t know how long it would be). I’ve also written through it. I have a post about that and it basically says to freewrite or try something you don’t often (or ever) write like micro fiction or haiku.

  4. I know what you mean! How do I deal? Sometimes I take a break. Other times, I take a drive. Still other times, I end up eating – a lot. Then again, the treadmill is a bad idea that always turns out well LOL. Lately, its been cupcakes, a good book, and House & Home videos on YouTube to get the creative juices jump started! There are days, however, that I have to sit myself down and tell myself I’m not getting up until I write something!

    1. Hi, Audrey! I can relate – a couple of pieces of great dark chocolate, watching an episode of a new-to-me TV series (while trying desperately not to succumb to bingeing which will lead to further procrastination) or simply promising myself a reward for hunkering down for 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing…

  5. I was saying this to my hubby the other day: “I am in awe of writers who are able to continuously generate engaging, well-crafted content day in and day out.” I certainly feel that way sometimes. That’s when I know I’ve started comparing myself to others. Their proliferation doesn’t make me or you any less creative. It doesn’t make me or you any less productive. I write when I’m inspired and when I’m not ’cause life’s taken over, then I pause. I enjoy dropping in and reading your stories.

    1. That’s such a good point, Kate. Thanks. It’s important not to get caught up in the never-ending game of comparisons and that we judge ourselves on our own merits, based on our own personal goals and not on the perceived success of others.

Like What You've Read? Let me know!