04 February 2010

The Slumps

**This is not a happy-go-lucky post. I even hesitated to post it, but we all go through these times. Now you all know I really am human :) You have been warned.

Pitchers get them.

So do batters.

I grew up watching baseball so I've heard the term my whole life. "Pitching slump"; "Hitting slump". Not so fun, for players or fans.
Did you know that writers can go through "Writing slumps"?

Of course you did. They are better known as "Writer's Block" but I like putting it this way. A block is something that is immovable. It calls to mind a military blockade. I feel dumbfounded, lost, and perpetually blank.

But a slump sounds temporary. A little lull. The valley between two mountains. Not too bad, just a little down time. A little slow going. A wee slump.

I've been in a slump lately. Okay, for the past few months. It's not that I don't have anything to write about. It's more of feeling pressed for time and losing all my energy during to day to sitting. Yes, you read that correctly. I sit for eight hours a day at a desk. When I get home I am exhausted! My body was created to move. This past weekend I hauled a cedar chest upstairs by myself. I felt great! My back didn't hurt after that. Crazy but true: when I do hard work, my body rejoices! Sit me in front of a computer all day and all I want to do is sip cocoa and sleep. (Not at the same time. That could be dangerous!)

I read that taking a walk can help a slump. Getting outside is my cure all. Unfortunately, where we're living at present, there's really no where to get outside. Plus it's freezing. Oh yeah, and raining. If we had snow I'd be all eager and leaping with joy to get outside. But freezing cold thank you! Writing exercises were also recommended. Problem: if I don't have the energy to work on my own projects, where am I going to pull it from to work on some free writing prompts? Hmmm...

What to do? My life has dwindled into a catch phrase. Or rather a title of a very influential work of literature. "Catch 22". I long to write and yet my energy is gone and I'm over looking at computer screens after five. I could write by hand but thanks to working on said computer all day, I now have tennis elbow (or, more correctly, typists elbow). Grrr...I would LOVE to get outside but asphalt and concrete do not a happy soul make. Aaaahhhhh!!!

I know, I know. Suck it up. Get over it. Do it any way. Just do it!

Sage advice, but seriously: what DO you do when your in a slump? No, not a slump, THE slumps. I guess I can't truly call it a Writer's slump. More of an Energy-Need-Fresh-Air-&-Physical-Activity-I-Hate-Computers-&-Fluorescent-Lights Slumps. Maybe I just need to up my vitamin intake (read: take vitamins every day). Maybe I need more caffeine. Maybe I need a good, month long vacation. Oooh. Yeah. NOW we're talking!

***What do YOU do when you hit the slumps? Not just in writing but in life? All thoughts are appreciated and would be rewarded liberally with mountains of chocolate if only I owned Godiva.
Slumpily yours,
PS: I posted about this in an alternate light over at The Manor. Stop by if you get a chance (I promise it's not nearly as depressing.)


DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

I go through slumps all the time. In writing and in life. Times when I feel a little down. Sort of out of it. The thing that gets me through, is the knowledge that it will pass, eventually. It always does. Hang in there.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

There is nothing better than a good baseball metaphor. I LOVE baseball. Slumps are natural and we all have them. Hang in there.

I like to have my hubby take me out for dinner, WITHOUT the children. I like to read for hours in the tub with the door locked. And I like to visit all my bloggy friends who inspire me. :-)

Carla Gade said...

Jen, So sorry to hear your having a hard time of it. I'm also well acquainted with THE Slumps. The slumps usually visit me in the winter and last about as long. It's seasonal. I usually write to help me get out of them. I also read, draw, anything to escape reality. Though I know that's not helpful in truly dealing with it. I have to resist the desire to sleep. I've learned to try to put some positive things before me, happy reminders, cheerful things, inspirational quotes, my Bible. I also crave color. Might sound strange but I need to see colorful things so sometimes I just make an effort to go visit a giftshop, a florist, or look at art somewhere. Actually anything to incite the senses usually is a good remedy for me, even if it only offers a temporary reprieve. Those little respits helps break up the chain of melancholy. I also find that when I look at the big picture of how long I've been in the slumps it makes it worse, more overwhelming and discouraging, so I try to take it day by day and not count my bad days as failures. God's faithfulness is new every morning, I remind myself. I also try to give myself a little grace. Make that a lot of grace. Who says I have to be feeling "up" all the time?
I hope you will be refreshed soon. {{{ hugs!! }}}

Kristi said...

I'm a huge baseball fan so I'm loving the comparison and the photo. Even a photo of the slumps is actually making me happy.

I too go in and out of the slumps and unfortunately a nice brisk walk outdoors with the hubby, dogs and toddler cure most of my stress and lack of energy. But alas, that doesn't seem like it will happen.

Chocolate and popcorn are just good mood lifters for whatever ails you. Oohhh...and shopping! Shopping is always nice. Do you have a treadmill? Maybe an indoor exercise would help in the meantime.

Whatever you do - hang in there and don't be too hard on yourself! Sometimes just taking a break is all you need to come out of the slump!

Brian Miller said...

put on your rally cap! go out there and connect...dont swing for the fences, just put it in play...

at least that is what my coaches taught me in little league...

The Blonde Duck said...

I dance!

Erin Kuhns said...

Oh, do I know about slumps! People have offered all kinds of great ideas. I'd add onto them by reminding you to really celebrate the small victories. You wrote a blog post today. Two of them, in fact. That's fantastic!

I also try to OD on Vitamin D capsules - they seem to be working for me this year. And magically, I am more drawn to going outside for walks than I have been in past winters (and it's pure winter up here, in Quebec).

Anyway, I really appreciate that you've shared your struggles. I think it's important we writers stay honest and true to ourselves and with others. Keeps us genuine and real...and that keeps our writing growing.

I hope you feel a tad better tomorrow.


Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey, Friend. I'm sorry you're struggling. I know the place you're in too well. And I'm afraid I don't have answers other than the little things... read a good book, eat something super tasty, laugh really hard with friends, and hold on to the good moments with everything you have. I know you will get out of the slump. I pray it's soon.

Lin said...

I go through this a lot too--thank goodness for Hobbes. :) He always provides me a post when all else fails.

I write at work all day--I produce the company newsletter, so at deadline time, I'm fried on writing and I don't have an extra line to spare. I find I turn to old photos that inspire some words--any words, as lame as they may be.

I'm pushing myself to stretch a bit, to get out of the kitties so much and to move onto more stories of other parts of my life--like I used to blog about. Hobbes is my crutch and I've been leaning too much on him lately. Even if the crowd seems to like it.

Michelle Gregory said...

so many good pieces of advice for the slumps. be glad you have writing friends who can encourage you. when i first started this crazy path down the writing road, i had my husband and one other writer to cheer me on. good, but not as good as all the encouragers i have now.

Tamika: said...

Most of my slumps come from exhaustion. Not having adequate rest is a major factor in my creativity.

Inspiration in Italy said...

I definitely understand what you are talking about. I felt like that probably 90 % of the time when I worked in an office. I was never happy in the corporate world and moving to Italy was my answer....hopefully it will lead to a permanent solution and my way out of the 9-5 but we will see. :) I do hope that you find your inspiration too, and some way to feel the sunshine through the dark days!

What you have written on my last post, I soooo relate to. It was as if you were speaking straight from my heart - I completely feel as though music is always constantly lurking in the background the desire to sing again will always be there. My life has taken so many turns and the direction has brought me to an amazing place, but far far from music and singing, which makes me sad in a way. Though, it will always be there and hopefully time will allow me to revisit again. Thanks also for your kind words!


Sandi Delia said...

Hi Jen,

I try to feed my heart when I'm in a slump. But to be honest, that's really hard to do when your life energy is sucked dry in a job. I totally relate to your experience, as you know!

I learned to tell myself that there is nothing wrong. Just because I'm not "happy happy joy joy" doesn't indicate I've gone terribly amiss in my journey. I read "Care of The Soul," which helped tremendously to learn to accept everything as being just fine. There is just as much value in a slump as in periods of happy blissed out productivity.

Hanging in there with you!

Chaotic Beauty said...

I need to hear these comments too, I cant seem to get out of this slump that I am in!!! What do you do when you just dont "feel" like writing?

Derrick said...

Hi Jen,

Now, if anything can shock you out of it, it will be my visit!! I have had the slumps for AGES, can never think what to write, unless inspiration strikes from a fellow blogger's work, as it did today! So stroll the blogosphere and pinch something - only not from me! I appreciate your visits even though I may not say so often enough! Enjoy the weekend.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen. I get those energy slumps and cannot explain why. Like you, I sit all day before a screen and upon arriving home, begin the domestic engineering job (kids, dinner, laundry, etc). When it's all said and done, I am too tired to write, though that desire burns hot.
For me, hand writing takes too long; I would kill (not really) to have a lap top to carry around and write while in the kitchen, or in the car (not while driving, of course), while waiting for the girls to get out of sports, etc. Perhaps I need to begin handwriting - it is a lost art and very portable!

Anastasia said...

All I do is what you've already suggested. Especially taking a walk, but I totally get not walking in freezing rain. Maybe go to a museum and walk and be inspired in a different way?

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Oh, Jen, you describe it so well! I am in the midst of a slump myself. I'm coping by clinging on to an adage that I can not recall the exact wording of, but basically says--slow is not a cause for concern ,you are still moving--just as long as you don't stop. So I just try to value any little thing I do that may be construed as progress, hoping that if I do enough of those little things, I'll eventually hit on something, anything that gives me the momentum to get out of the slump.

Two other notes:

I love your new (ish?--I've been away for a week, maybe 2?...sorry!) background. I am pretty sure it is nearly identical to the paper with which my childhood dresser was lined.

I am elated that we also have baseball in common! I adore baseball, but I never get many comments on my baseball posts :)

rosedale's 4head said...

by the time this post posts, i hope you're out of your slump - i suggest take it for what it is - and shoot for employment that opens up leisure if your writing goals are top priority. i quit working in a M-F Writing Center at a local community college because it was sapping my energy and time and the new supervisor was a bad fit all together - it stole most of my time to study literature in graduate school. as a result, i'm teaching 3 classes at the same college part-time and studying like a butterfly suckling the sweetest sweets from every willing flower...i hope you find peace and a job that feeds your heart's for energy...trying jogging in place and singing opera or rap music...either one will be a fine jolt!

love love love your blog btw.

Ratty said...

The only thing I ever do when I'm in any kind of slump is just remember that eventually it will be over. I try to occupy my time with other things, and hope maybe the activity will inspire me. I have a second blog where I write very short stories, but I haven't done so in a while because I just don't have it in me right now. I know that eventually something will come to me and I'll be able to write for it again though.

Terresa said...

I've felt the slumps slump all around me for the past month. I keep trying to shake them off but they seem to creep back.

You know I'm a chocolate girl, too. And I agree, Godiva helps. That and trying to step back and see that somehow they will end and the upside will come. It will.


Mary Aalgaard said...

Hope you're over the slumps by the time you read this. For me, I took a nap. I took a walk. Or, you might want to throw a little party, invite a few friends over for appetizer and game night. Do something that fuels you. Forgive yourself for feeling uninspired and dream about tomorrow!

deb said...

I think it might be the time of year , I wrote about being stuck.
I feel overwhelmed with so much to read, and trying to decide how to move forward with my writing, and the general lack of sun!!

I try not to think of it as a negative thing, or it makes it worse, but when the thought of running errands seems daunting, you know some change is in order:)

I booked a little getaway with my daughter to NYC, a change of routine and scenery and some inspiration.

and I started running again, as I'd gotten a little lazy around the holidays, and the endorphen rush is key.