March 30


Writing Cycles, Writing Funks

One of the funny things about writing a blog is that you see, on the screen in front of you, plain evidence of the upswings and downswings of your time, inspiration, and urge to write. You know when you haven’t posted much in a while.

It’s a very odd thing, however, how little the conscious mind seems aware of these flows of energy and strength. I might detect, consciously, no reason why I can’t sit down and write another paragraph of a story, or draft that little essay on Paco di Lucia that I had planned, and yet once I’ve been sitting at my desk for a time, and been unable to write much, it suddenly occurs to me that I’ve been away from home three weekends in a row. Simply speaking, I’ve exhausted myself and need to take a break.

My artistic well–which resides somewhere in the brain far deeper than consciousness, which seems fed by a strange and unstable mixture of rest, routine, books and conversation, competition, and deadlines–had run (temporarily) dry.

I’m sure that everyone who does creative work is familiar with these bouts of high energy and low. Emerson wrote, in the essay “Circles:”

Our moods do not believe in each other. To-day I am full of thoughts, and can write what I please. I see no reason why I should not have the same thought, the same power of expression, to-morrow. What I write, whilst I write it, seems the most natural thing in the world; but yesterday I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see so much; and a month hence, I doubt not, I shall wonder who he was that wrote so many continuous pages.

Yet still, it would be nice to be able to track the level of that well of artistic energy, and know in advance when it was getting low, or know confidently what action to take to quickly restore it. But when I find myself thinking like that, I’m reminded of something very wise once told to me in a London cafe. This was a couple of years ago now, when I was jotting down ideas in a notebook, and I got the strong impression that the woman sitting at a nearby table was a writer. She was, in fact, Michelene Wandor, the author of a major study of the creative writing industry, The Author Is Not Dead, Merely Somewhere Else. We started talking, and I mentioned these sort of thoughts.

She replied (and I’m repeating this from memory, so it may not quite be accurate) that writing is supposed to be a social activity. It’s supposed to have a social function, too–a wider purpose. When we forget this, and instead treat writing as something purely personal, then we naturally become a little manic about it. We treat the capacity to write as proof that we have a soul, and so we make “writer’s block” a terrible condition. But writing is supposed to be like everything else, with a rhythm and a flow. It’s supposed to interact with life as well as, at times, require a retreat from it. No one is supposed to write all the time, she said. And so my three recent weekends away were not, in this sense, weekends away from writing–they were part of my life, just as the writing is.

Thinking about this idea, today, I am also reminded that, actually, I have written a great deal lately. I’ve just completed the first big section of a new novel, 150 pages, which I’m about to show to classmates, and, possibly, my agent. I’ve got a fair idea, too, how to move forward with the second section–it’s very exciting. So perhaps my conscious mind is bad, also, at knowing when I’ve been writing “enough.” Perhaps that well of mine is wiser than I am, keeping my reserves fresh for the big, on-going project.

What’s your experience of this? Are you, regardless of the points made above, a firm believer in daily writing?

**I’m very grateful to WordPress for choosing this post to be Freshly Pressed! Hello, new visitors! Take a seat, get comfortable, look around ๐Ÿ™‚ **





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  • Peregrine says:

    Why not put the writing aside and do something else? You will return to it with new eyes, new viewpoint. I do that with paintings. I recently started working on a portrait I had set aside and viewed it with new interest and knowledge. I think we get a mental fatigue and our brains need a rest and a new way of looking at our project. Try an art project such as drawing, painting, silk screening, etching, gardening, etc. Let your brain do something else for awhile.

    • I miss making leather bags. The repetitive act of hammering the holes was soothing in the manner you describe. Unfortunately, it’s a very loud pastime, so I’ve never really had a space where I could comfortably hammer away.

  • Definitely hit those low-points and upswings. I’m like The Little Engine The Could on those bad days/weeks/months… Just puffing along saying “I think I can… I think I can… I think I can…”

    • That’s the other option! To keep pushing away. The advantage is that it keeps you in the chair, maintains your routine.

  • It’s funny, writing is naturally a very personal art form. Ironically, I worry about people I know reading what I write, yet I seek the feedback of strangers on my writing. I often forget I have an audience.

  • I think daily writing is a good thing but posting daily in a blog might be overkill.

    • segmation: I agree: I’ve never been able to blog daily. But I have for long periods of time written fiction everyday. During periods of novel drafting, I still try to work without many days off.

  • For me, I tend to spend far too much energy kicking myself for not being more productive, when really I could be putting my time to better use by avoiding the guilt and actually relaxing or recharging. Maybe I need a regular writing/creative routine. Then I’d feel like I was accomplishing something (anything) on a regular basis and spend less time with the self-recrimination…

    • allsorts: the “kicking myself” that you speak of has made me very unhappy over the years. Often the best days are the ones when I know I have only an hour or so to write before work begins.

  • I find it bothersome when I can’t seem to put words on paper, and everything I do write down seems awkward and terrible. Honestly, sometimes it makes me feel like I’ll never finish anything, and that I should write every day until I can get it done. But, I know that sometimes that’s not possible, that you need a brain break. I’ve done less novel and blog writing (and novel-reading!) lately than usual, but I’ve started a small vegetable garden and done more gaming and watching videos than I ever have (which historically has been relatively little). It is a nice brain break, and it does make new connections form that bring me back to my writing in retrospect. This is a great post to examine that.

  • Teaching-Annie says:

    Writing is a paradoxical art; especially if one uses this art form in pursuance of a full time career. Those of us who make the deadlines become unhappy with the formation of our art. We notice our passion has dwindled, but continue in search of the next payment. No I decided I could no longer write each day. Iโ€™d rather write in the natural way; the way of inspiration and passion of and for the subject.

    • Teaching-Annie: Great comment, and it leaves me curious… what types of jobs did you have when you were writing full time for a paycheck? If you no longer do that, what type of writing do you do now (blog, books), and do you have any sort of income stream from this? To what degree do you feel that you have to choose one: passion or profit? (I’ve been considering doing some writing of my own, but I think I’m being realistic about “keeping my day job” for a paycheck.)

      • Teaching-Annie says:

        Dear Cindy,
        I always wanted to be a writer since I won my first writing contest in the third grade. I thought the life of a fiction writer would fill my dreams. However, I learned early that I couldnโ€™t write fiction to save my life. I learned this from a well-meaning fiction writer, who happen to be teaching a class at the local college called โ€œHow to Write a Book and Sell It.โ€ She was (at the time I thought a harsh woman) who explained to me that I had talent as a tech writer. She said โ€œwrite about what you know and your passion shows in your writing.โ€ I loved computers and still do, so I became a tech writer. I only lasted a few months as a full time tech-writer, and they paid me 500.00 โ€“ 800.00 per article. I learned sitting in a little room writing all day (even though I truly loved my subject) wasnโ€™t what made me a great tech writer. What gave me the ability to write about technology was teaching others about technology. Just before I jumped off โ€œmy day jobโ€ I realized it was because of my day job, I wrote with such clarity and passion. You come to a point, when writing for a company or editor, you will be asked to produce faster and more product; just like any business. I usually wrote on a monthly basis for Pinnacle publishing for about 10 years. After ten years however, I grew tired of meeting deadlines, and writing about the subjects they wanted me to write about. The passion was gone. I needed the money as my children were young, and I will tell you, it was a great income. In order to stay in the business, you learn how to negotiate pay with editors. My first article of 400 words, I accepted the pay of $190.00. However, with each article, I asked for more pay. Then once again in 2005, I became a full-time ghost writer for a company doing Search Engine Optimization. I wrote about all different subjects, and again I was able to obtain $600.00 per article. I did this for a year. This company then pushed me to write more and more, and the subject material became more boring with each article. Now I write for me. I started writing the book about Annie, and in one day, I wrote 18,000 words. That is how I like to write! I will self-publish this book on Kindle, and my goal is to have it finished by October of this year!
        Just as in that comment, I was on contract as a subject matter expert, and the last job I did for them; they paid $50.00 per hour. However, my contract (never write without a contract) failed to state I would be writing test questions, and I did not know there was a premium pay for โ€œhot test questionsโ€ something I detest and do not believe is right, so I turned them down, and did not renew my contract.

        • Teaching-Annie says:

          Sorry mixed up my names, not Cindy.

        • Thanks so much for the feedback! So, 2 last questions: (1) Are you working on the book full time now (presumably living off savings or a spouse’s income), or do you still do freelance stuff on the side? (2) If you could go back and do it all over again, what would you do in terms of the type of writing and who you would work for? (Also, is the book you’re writing fiction?) Thank you!

          • Teaching-Annie says:

            Dear Carmenelise,
            Hi, the answer to question #1, I am working on a book, and the book is not fiction; it is about how I discovered methods to teach Annie. I work part-time as a computer instructor for a local college, and yes, I still free-lance on projects from time to time. We are a dual income household at this time, but for 15 years, my business supported our household of six. My husband became a stay at home dad during those times, however we made a decision when our children became teens, I would stay home; that didnโ€™t work, as I donโ€™t stay home well either. I got the job at the college. The answer to #2, I have already written two books (technical books) 1st one published by a publisher and 2nd one I self-published. I would continue with technical writing, because I am very proficient at that style, and I like that type of writing. In todayโ€™s world, the pay for technical writers has diminished due to authors being contracted now from other parts of the world. However, a new writer has more opportunity to self-publish and depending on how they use social media, the door is wide open. My 17 year old is writing a fictional novel; I am her editor. She is half-way finished, and I will help her self-publish the book on Kindle. Hmm! If I could go back and do it all over again? I would do it the same way. I had tremendous amount of fun running a consulting business, and due to writing, becoming an expert in the field. What a kick!

      • Teaching-Annie says:

        Opps, sorry got my names mixed up; not Cindy!

        • Teaching-Annie: Thanks for sharing this information. It sounds like a good amount of money per article–although, as you say, the need to produce became wearying in time.

          Best wishes finishing the book! I hope it’s coming along smoothly ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Teaching-Annie says:

            Thanks Daniel.
            Other people advised me tech writing could gather the most pay, however, that industry changes so fast, and books are obsolete in an extremely short time; thus the reason for fast production. I am having a great time with the book about Annie; looking forward to the 60,000 word mark!

  • For me, it’s when I have a new story in mind. Something that allow’s me to grow and expand new characters in a new world. My work ethics seems to get a charge of energy and away I go, I simply can’t stop until I either burn or finish. Other times like rewrites are when I get bitten by lethargy and my work ethic abandons me

    • David: I know what you mean ๐Ÿ™‚ The difficult thing, for me, was teaching myself to write in novel-writing-rhythm, where you kind of have to go on for long periods at a stretch. It took me ages to feel comfortable with the idea that, after a hard weekend’s work, I had gone from 30,000 words to 33,000 words–that I was still nowhere near complete.

  • Howdy, Daniel!

    I have only recently started writing again, and your fine piece made me feel quite a bit better about the 4-year hiatus I took from writing (save for a few scant postings to my blog).

    I wrote prolifically for many years, and even made some decent side money doing online content. Then I got the brilliant idea that I was going to write my way out of blue-collar purgatory. As you have probably guessed, I hit the wall, killed my muse, and my well ran dry.

    I had succeeded only in turning one of my true passions into yet another chore!

    Lately, my muse has risen like a Phoenix, and I write only when she compels he to do so, resisting old urged and habits involved with “keeping my name out there”. And yes, writing is indeed a social act, but by no means a compulsory one. Congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed, and I’m glad I found you; I truly needed some perspective as an artist, and your thoughtful piece provided it. Thank you!

    • Thank you! I know the urge to keep one’s name “out there.” For me, it manifests in the feeling that I have to write new short stories all the time. I’ve tried to teach that urge to be more sensible…

      Congratulations on starting writing again.

  • Stillness, and quietness are so crucial to maintaining a store of creativity. It’s great to write when the flow is there, but I think even writing a daily journal on the days where all feels stale and dry is just as important for maintaining technique.

  • I couldn’t agree more about the ebb and flow of writing, or really anything, within our lives. There is a rhythm in all things and either we flow with that rhythm or fight against it. I find that I am much more creative when I tune into that rhythm and let it take me where it may.

  • Get my personal writing in around the day jobs – which also involve writing – is what I have found difficult of late. I may have time, but I do not always have energy. And I’m not even trying to write a novel. I’m just trying to get one blog post out a week, and one story I can perform every month. (The one on Freshly Pressed this week - – is one such story) Thanks for making that process a little more social for me, Daniel.

    • Congratulations on being freshly pressed! So, do you perform / read every story you write?

      • Not every story, no – but the purpose of the blog was to give me more structure in developing stories, which I felt I needed moving back to 40 hours in the wage-slave world, and the regular deadline has been helpful. I’ve also been trying to use the blog as a platform for discussing the process of writing for performance, and to profile others who are trying to do the same. Of course “old school” storytellers will say you never write anything down. But I’m a writer first, and a performer second. The two mediums do inform each other in interesting ways. Thanks for asking! And congrats to you too.

        • That’s very interesting. I’m a page writer first. But I love presenting my work to a crowd–when I get the chance to read in public, I really go for it–and I’m sort of curious where the line is between what I do and what storytellers do.

          • There are many different opinions on that score – in the storytelling and spoken word community, at least – and it’s worth a post on its own. I’ll be sure to let you know when I do so! In the meantime, I try to run an interview of at least one storyteller a month who has won a slam, about their process, and if you check those out, you’ll get a good idea of the diversity of approaches. A lot depends on what the venue rules are. The slam i go to allows paper – other slams like The Moth (which I’ve also participated in, and managed to win once) do not.

        • Let me know if you’d like to do a guest post, here, about that line (between reading aloud and performing). Of course, I don’t usually get this many readers, but it would be great to build more of a conversation ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I will go on long jags of writing every day, but then life gets in the way and the time between gets longer and longer. I used to be critical of myself, for not being able to stick to a set schedule, until I looked at it from a different perspective. I may not be writing every day, but I am thinking about my writing and cultivating ideas that end up being put on paperโ€”just not every day. Congratulations on finishing part of your novel and I hope you get some thoughtful critiques.

    • eleharty: I do think it’s a balance. I try to work as hard as I can. But I am trying, these days, not to be annoyed with myself in the moment. Maybe the rule should be: everyday, prep to write the next day–pick a time, get a space ready, plan out a paragraph or a section of a chapter…

    • I agree – I find trying to stick to a schedule too much like a trap because I have difficulty with creativity on demand. However, like you, I do find myself thinking about my writing every day, especially if I am trying to work out a particularly sticky plot situation that just does not seem to flow.

  • It seems to me that there is as much skill knowing when not to write, as knowing what to write about. The flow will always come back.

  • This is the same situation with which I have been struggling lately. I tried to force myself to write every day in order to hopefully encourage the creative flow, but instead I find myself feeling guilty when I am not in the mood to write. “But,” I think, “I promised myself that I would write today!” Unfortunately, I have been out of practice with writing for a while and it is not as easy as getting back to many other hobbies. It takes not only commitment but ideas and creative energy to really make the writing come. I feel dry lately, but I know in my heart that the creative energies will eventually come. Actually, getting together with a friend with whom I used to make films really solidified this in my mind. When we started speaking of projects he is working on and his own creative process, I began coming up with all sorts of ideas of things that he could write about. I suppose that it is when the pressure of personal interest is alleviated that we are truly free to feel the emotions as they were meant to come to us.

    Thank you for this post. I enjoyed it and it made me feel less alone. Cheers!

    • I do think it’s hard to balance. If you want to write, you have to, at some point, wrestle with the blank page, get into a routine, set goals etc. But sometimes the failure to put words down just indicates something else needs to get settled, or fed, first. I like your method–of talking to someone else about their writing–I imagine it bypasses the ego’s self-destructive qualities…

  • As a new member of this community of writers, I appreciate posts like this that put things into perspective. It gives me hope that I may be in the right path.

  • I’m currently undergoing a self-given challenge: to write 100 short stories in 100 days. So far I’m up to day sixty and I’m succeeded. That’s not to say that all of my short stories are good or that they are longer than a micro, but they’re there. For me, setting goals and reaching them seems to work and although I may not do a daily writing challenge again for some time, it’s a good experience.

    • That’s amazing! I love those sorts of challenges… Would you be interested in doing a guest post on the experience?

      • Hi Daniel! I’m so sorry I didn’t realise I had a reply. I’d definitely be interested on doing a guest post on the experience. You may have to walk me through it as it’ll be my first one ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Well, I’m fairly low tech with guest posts. You would email me the actual text in a word file and I’d publish it on the blog, with whatever links you wanted.

          Let me try to email you via your comment’s address…

  • I just started a blog a few days ago and I am already feeling like I need to do this every day! I created it about a month ago and it was overwhelming me.

    Your blog is was great for me to read right now. The thought of being a writer has started to seed in me. Thanks for your expression.

  • Writing helps me to take my place in the world. A day without some form of writing is a day of mental anguish. That simple act of putting the words down on the page sets me free from myself. I can move forward from this point with confidence.

  • You know I can REALLY relate to the part about feeling like when I’m not writing I’ve lost my soul. The pressure to produce something (from my friends and that nagging Voice In My Head) gets so high I take a whole month or two off (better than posting half heartedly anyway). I’m gonna share this

  • I think writing something every day is very important, but when you’re doing it on the side, it can be hard to do that. When life gets difficult or too busy, I desperately want to get my thoughts down, but sometimes I’m too tired or out of time. I try to store my ideas in my head for later. Sometimes that works. Not always! Thanks for posting!

  • Wow, writing is a social activity huh? ! I will definitely put it into consideration. Writers block has had it’s way with me. I found myself trying to relive the same emotions th starte my novel

  • I’m young and still very new to blogging. However, all my life I’ve loved writing and I always did write. It didn’t matter if it was complete rubbish or pearls and gems in the making. I wrote. I can very much relate to this post because even though I love creative writing, sometimes we do run out of things to say. Then, we’re just blank or writing nonsense. In times like those, I prefer to read or sleep or do anything else. It’s only a matter of time when the creative consciousness is revived again.
    I appreciate posts like this. It helps give other writers or fans a new outlook on things.

  • There are times when I don’t how to deal with a situation that goes much like this: I start on a big project, start losing it and find a way to get my spirits back in writing that project again, because I know I want to write this. Then I decide to do something else like cook for a while or sketch then I suddenly forget what I should write about before doing those stuff. I find it hard to recall the epic moments that I should have written that was in my head weeks ago. I can’t help get frustrated and start all over again until I recall the important stuff. The problem was, it ate a lot of my time and I needed to attend to other things create a lot of conflict in my hours of writing the supposed “big project”. It’s one of my problems that either I get through it or just don’t at all. Just sharing.

    • Something that kind of works for me, if that’s useful — I try to hook the good ideas I have, when they come, to specific moments in the story. I figure that I want to write a story that rises to an exciting crisis, so when I think of a cool idea, I imagine a spot in that line of rising tension where my new cool scene or comment will go.

  • To add though, this post made me think and see a whole new side of the situation, in which, helped me now. So, thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I get where you are coming from. Personally before I started to blog my writing ( I made sure I had a few more things written than I posted. Kind of a buffer that I can dip into to post week if I have a couple week where my well has run dry. That way I get to be somewhere else for a while and no one is the wiser. You can or write when your muse is with you and the stars aline just so after all! Love your piece.

  • When we try to overthink what to write, we mess it up. As you said, it is a part of us, moments without writing. Its like we writers never really take a break from writing we just get more and more open to new ideas, consciously or unconsciously. You have relieved the conflicts in my mind that were stinging me.

  • Two weeks now my hormone has lost taste for writing and I got to detect that after I received a notification in my mail box.Daily writing,I believe has its place. However it has its limit.

  • I doubt anyone hoping to create work worth consuming by others (let alone enjoyed) can crank out consistent excellence. I’m wary of anyone who blogs every single day (is anyone that interesting?!) I’d rather read one amazing blog a month, written after much reflection; having said that, because I write for a living and need to stay visible to search engines, I blog 3x week. Does is weaken the material? Maybe.

    The larger challenge with blogging, for me, is trying to — hopeless — satisfy or please the variety of people who read my stuff. Yes, writing IS social. I know few of them will want to read everything, and you have to be fine with being “rejected” much of the time. I write for a living (NF and journalism) so the necessity of re-charging is very real indeed. My brain feels like, and is, an industrial production line most of the time.

    • It’s hard to summon the strength to really excel day after day. I hadn’t really blogged for a couple of weeks before I wrote this piece, and perhaps that helps account for its popularity–I came at the topic fresh. And yet, doing a PhD, I find myself having to write stuff, responses, reviews, feedback day after day, and I just push through the brain’s reluctance. It’s not always a good feeling.

  • I am just beginning to understand the ebb and flow of writing. To not take it personally. To step back when I need to step back and dive in when the pool is full. Thanks for reiterating so exquisitely.

  • “We treat the capacity to write as proof that we have a soul” – nicely stated! While I definitely agree with your analysis of highs and lows in creativity, for me they can be changed or modified by my creating opportunities to write or running to do other things. Sometimes just starting to write anything “creates” creativity I didn’t know was there.

  • I myself am in the middle of those so dreaded ‘writers block’ which is the same reason why I decided to start blogging to allow myself to write freely without the worry of a deadline or a large audience reading my writings. I love the part where you speak about the advice Wander gave you, I had never really thought about it that way, it’s fabulous!

  • I think a lot of writers tend to be very harshly self-critical – many of my blog posts are about this very subject – I guess I use my blog as a kind of self-counselling tool! As a group we need to be kinder to ourselves and listen more to what our bodies are telling us.

  • I have peaks and troughs; days when I can write constantly for hours, with a flow of amazing (in my mind) words. Other days, I can’t scramble two words together. I write when I want to, and don’t when I don’t. For my paid work, this means that there is often a huge rush to complete a deadline, but usually, it works out very well – I make up for lost time very quickly when in the right frame of mind!

  • I completely agree. I’ve described creativity (reflecting my country upbringing) as being like a catfish pond that has been over-fished. It needs some time to replenish and restock itself. Great post.

  • I went through a wonderful season of writing every day for over a year, then hit a lull I’m only now coming out of. I do whole-heartedly agree with the social aspect of writing. Though I’m an introvert, I covet the blogging buddies and writing friends I’ve made who respond to my work. Without them, it would be easy to give up.

    • Hoc est mihi says:

      When I look at my personal blog it reflects my mood at the time of writing perfectly. The lulls coincide with times when I am busy and content and have no need for introspective reflection. At any hurdle my writing is my solace and keeps me sane. My business blog however can often be a chore as I write whether I feel like it or not. I would hate to feel like that in my leisure time also.

  • Reblogged this on jerrymanuel70 and commented:
    once upon a time ,i am so full of energy to write.The whole just swirls inside of me i feel i am going to burst with so much it inside of me.i pick my pen and do the next five pages in five minutes.I do another roller coaster writing the next day and later, it is is either i have lost sequence in my writing or i have just run out of ideas which makes it impossible for me to complete the text again.

  • Making sure I can write some every day is such a part of my recovery, but some days the day job just has to take priority. Thank you for this post! Anxious to read more!

  • I think I should write every day, but I don’t (how I wish I was that disciplined!). I write when I feel inspired or make myself. What I do do is keep returning to it until it reaches a stage I’m happy with it.

  • Nice entry. I can relate.

    I’m a firm believe in daily writing, yes. I created a new blog in March, in hopes of having less pressure to write for an audience. I chose to dedicate this new blog to write about anything I want. Mostly daily rambles of school, relationships, sex, cardio and so on. Now if someone comes along and enjoys my writing or the subject at hand or could relate in any way then great! If not, well, at least, I don’t have the burden of writing for others. When I write with an audience in mind, after a while, it takes a toll on me. I can no longer write freely. I feel like my writing becomes micro-managed in some strange way. I know it’s mental.

    But aside from two of my WordPress blogs, I love to write poetry. It’s therapy and many of them are personal. But I feel, often times, my inspiration is spot on during moments of heightened emotion. For me, it’s usually some kind of suffering, anger and sadness that does the trick. So I’ve learned how to channel the dark parts of me through writing. These emotions bring my writing to greater levels than if I were happy or in some other state of bliss.

    Have you notice what emotions heighten your writing or unleashes lengthy inspiration from your soul? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • That is some good advice. I’ve never thought it like that. I’ve been struggling a lot with writing fiction lately, mainly because of a lack in confidence and inability to think of a plot that I don’t think is entirely stupid the next day. But I think I’ll just have to keep trucking along.

    • What’s one of your plot ideas? Maybe we can give suggestions ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Daily writing seems forced you take yesterdays old ideas slather a new coat of paint on them and try pawning it off as new. The balance is something I, as a new blogger, have just started to become familiar with and accustomed too. Understanding that days of new fresh spontaneous ideas are not as common as I first thought.

  • Oh, those WordPress stats do have that cold, scientific way of demonstrating one’s droughts, don’t they?
    I’m glad I found your blog! I’m not a fiction writer, I do mostly academic nonfiction (plus my little blog), and I do find it very difficult some days to put my thoughts together enough to have something worth writing down. I know some novelists and short story writers insist you have to write a little every day, but it’s hard to do free-flowing prose just for practice when what you’re writing is supposed to be based on facts and information, I find.
    Or perhaps this is just my way of consoling myself ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for the piece and congratulations on FreshlyPressed!

  • The one time I needed to write, but my creative juices failed was my final project, research work, in the uni. There was no apparent deadline, but I knew I had to write to graduate. There were some deeper reasons why I couldn’t write anyway, but how do you explain that to a supervisor? In the end, I just had to ‘force’ myself to write. Thus, I’m of the belief that there is a time for everything. Some days you write for hours and sometimes you can’t even scribble a sentence. Nice piece.

  • I think this is an excellent article, and the question of why yesterday went so well but today seems so unpalatable? has been one I’ve often asked myself, especially when it comes to my ability to write. I do also sometimes remember that in the time of ‘yesterday’ or ‘in the moment’ of writing, it’s hard to know. In that what I wrote yesterday at the time of writing did feel just as strenuous as what I’m writing today, and that it’s only in the completion that one can truely appreciate it.

    The comment made about the author being ‘away’ as opposed to Barthes’ ‘Death of the Author’ I found an inspiring thought, as I always found his essay convincing but hard to swallow because reliquishing complete control over one’s story or writing seemed too difficult.

    Thanks for writing!

  • AMomBlogs says:

    I have weeks that are creative while others that are less creative. Motivation is also a factor.

    I’m writing AtoZ “Things My Husband Has Broken”

  • I feel guilty revealing this, but I’ve gone weeks, a couple of months even, without writing a thing. I can’t force myself to do it. It has to come on it’s own. I feel like I’m a slacker sometimes, but life can and does get in the way. For instance, the start or 2014 has been terrible for my family and me, racked with terrible illnesses, awful weather and an odd streak of really, really bad luck. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I just haven’t been in the mood to write anything, including my brooding poetry. I am still writing in my head though, and I have brainstormed or had good ideas I jotted notes on in my notepad or on my phone’s notepad. But writing? No.

  • I go through the ebb and the flow, the ups and the downs, and struggling with time constraints. But I always want to write.

    Even when I am struggling with a story, I’ll put it aside, let it percolate in the back of my mind, and return to it when inspiration hits. I’ve put stories away for months at a time only to return with newly found passion and perspective. But then, there are times when I’ll write late into the night when the words no longer make sense and are garbled in my mind, only to awaken and find that there was a little bit of magic floating in my fatigue.

    Regardless, I’m now trying to schedule time to write in order to help with the time constraints that hinder my creativity. I’ll jot down ideas when the inspiration strikes no matter where I am, and I keep my mind as open to new ideas and characters whenever possible. And when all else fails, I write nonsense and just keep the well flowing even when the water is a little muddy. In doing so, I hope to find clarity when the thoughts run clear. It’s then, that the story starts to speak to my heart and I no longer have a choice but to continue on.

    This fluidity is my favorite part about the process. But I believe writing, like anything, requires commitment and practice. I would love to write daily and I do try, in some form or another whenever possible. Writing clears my mind, opening my heart and soul. I adore the art of crafting a story with words, and with characters that do not yet exist.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog! I loved reading everyone’s thoughts on the matter.

    Wishing you the best.

    • I’ve really enjoyed this, too–seeing everyone respond, both to what I wrote and each other.

  • Isn’t writing interesting that way?I have often found I write more in my mind than on my laptop. Much more. So many well put blog posts have been written in my mind that I wished they had made it to the social world. Time for me is part of the equation as well as space of thought and life. Much luck to all us creators!

  • I’m reading your blog in the midst of one of those long, dark nights of the writerly soul. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone out here. I definitely feel a different kind of pressure with blogging than with novel-writing, but sometimes they intersect in helpful ways. I use my blog in part as a way to craft the narrative of my writing life, and so when one suffers, the other usually does as well. Your blog is well thought-out and articulate; it’s always a pleasure to find a really good one. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Those long dark nights are bad. The long dark mornings can be even worse!

      You’re not alone. I think there’s a great book to be written about writers not writing, about the years Rilke took away from poetry, for instance. Even the supremely prolific Joyce Carol Oates comments, in her Paris Review interview, “at the moment I am feeling rather melancholy, or derailed, or simply lost, because I completed a novel some weeks ago and haven’t begun another…”

      • Someone needs to write that book! Now that you mention it, I’m a bit surprised someone hasn’t already.

  • A creative flow for me does come and go. When the energy to create is at a low ebb, I do rewrites or edits of work in my simmer file. As a musician, when I started to develop a daily practice routine to keep levels of performing accomplishment, I improved and could count on an expected quality of performance. I think the same holds true with writing. Routines of taking notes on observations or striking thoughts, of sitting down and just writing anything on a regular basis, of reacting to a conversation and immediately writing down a continuing concept in tangent to the conversation. Expecting every time a writer sits down to write they are going to produce something immediately useable is unrealistic. If one is a journalist, and writes with a deadline, then a writing routine should definitely be in place. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and quotes in this blog. thanks for sharing.

  • I walk away and start a new project. In my writing or when trying to learn a song on my drums. Then when I get back to it, I have a fresh perspective.

  • While there are certain things many writers will have in common, everyone’s process is different. Personally, I take breaks. I need them, my writing needs them. This does *not* mean I wait for some magical muse to take over at the keyboard, I do believe there’s much to be said for planting my butt in the chair, but sometimes, yeah. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nice post, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
    ~Mrs F

  • I’d like to respond but my writing ‘well’ is temporarily dry. Thanks for the post. I try and write every day, but with different levels of energy and creative juice. Some days it’s better to Vodka.

  • I have yet to really figure out what “works” for me when it comes to those dry days. Sometimes I turn to a different project or catch up on some related reading, but once I deviate from my routine, it’s that much more difficult to return to it, so I don’t know! Daily targets definitely keep me on track…when I meet them. Great post!

  • Liked the non pressure approach in terns of the ebb and flow of writing. Also, nice pic of Indian dish too:)

  • My time with you was well spent. I like to write when the mood hits and fortunately for me that’s many times on a daily basis. I struggle with focus; I have lost track of the number of workbooks I have with an “in progress” post-it stuck to the front. I must admit that writing daily is a learned habit. I struggled in the beginning but when I allowed myself to write and ensured writing materials were always nearby, it came naturally. Now when I’m ‘stuck’, I cut myself some slack and when I’m goofing off, I eventually find myself playing with my muse.

    I see many return visits to your blog in the future.

  • I love this post. I don’t believe in the whole writing daily thing and get ticked off at people who try to guilt me into it. I do most of my writing outdoors and live in a state with a very short summer, so I can go for months without working on a story. To do otherwise would be, as I call it, muse abuse.

    My guess is that most of us do not support ourselves with writing but with a full-time day job. Let’s stop being so hard on each other. Life happens. Write when you can. Work when you must. Rest and let the well refill when necessary.

  • Reblogged this on Chesapeake Films and commented:
    What do you do when you hit writer’s block? Do you step aside and do something else? Do you stick to the same routine like Stephen King, Brian Helgeland and Woody Allen suggest?

  • Amazing! Its actually amazing piece of writing, I have got much clear idea regarding from
    this post.

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