A fellow Bad Girl and I recently discussed the phenomenon in a writer’s life known as The Blahs. Some call it being stuck in a rut, the doldrums, a bit of ennui. Regardless, it all presents itself with the same symptoms:
You feel like crap about your writing, mainly because you think you are crap and all you write is crap.
Here are a few fun Facts about The Blahs:
- It’s A LIE. You are not crap and your writing isn’t crap. I do think a healthy desire for improvement makes us better writers and drives us to improve our craft, but don’t go around thinking you’re really crap.
- The Blahs are a natural part of the creative process. Painters, actors, dancers, musicians – they all get the Blahs. It’s the flip side of those days when creativity and art spill forth and you’re convinced of your genius.
- Severity of symptoms may vary. First case of The Blahs might not be so bad, then a year later you’re hit with the mother of all Blahs.
- Writers at every stage of their craft and career come down with The Blahs. No one is immune. You will go through this phase more than once, but it really is a phase. It will pass.
Things that make you susceptible to The Blahs and how to avoid them:
- Getting off your writing schedule. Maybe you write a couple of k every day or maybe once a week you knock out 8k and change. It doesn’t matter. If writing is part of your usual habit, then you’ll feel out of sorts when you miss it. Stick to your schedule as best you can so you’re less likely to catch the Blahs.
- Real life. Okay, okay – we can’t avoid real life. Just be aware that there is no easier way to come down with The Blahs than when real life throws you a curve ball. LBH, sometimes it straight up nails you in the face. A family member is sick, work gets crazy, friend or family drama – you name it, any of it can quickly make you feel overwhelmed and unsure. Knowing this is the case may help you prepare for sudden Blah onset.
- The way this whole writer biz unfolds. You wanted to have that book published by now, but scheduling what it is, it’s going to be out eight months from now. You just knew the agent who requested your partial was going to be your bestie BFF Agent for life, but you haven’t heard a peep in response and it’s been 6 months. You’re under a tight deadline with no time for dawdling. The rush of getting words on the page convinces you it’s page after page of schwill. BAM! You’ve got the Blahs. It’s a crazy biz and nothing will ever change that. Accept it. Own it, live it, love it. This fact will help you endure the Blahs.
How to cure The Blahs:
- Yeeaaah, about that…You can’t. It’s like a cold or flu; it’s going to run its course, like it or not. If you have a deadline, you push yourself through BECAUSE DEADLINE. If you have some leeway, another creative endeavor may help. Read, paint, draw, dance, watch great movies or television, write some flash fiction, distract yourself with pretty things on the internet 🙂 Have fun! Don’t beat yourself up, instead find enjoyment somehow, feed the muse, and look for inspiration. The Blahs will be gone before you know it.
How do YOU deal with the Blahs? What gets you through?
Most writers will tell you, once you’ve gone through The Blahs a couple of times, it really does get easier. You recognize the signs and symptoms and you don’t wallow. Logically, you recognize your writing isn’t crap and this is merely something you must overcome. You’ll get through it AND it will build up your writer immune system for the long run. Trust me, you’re gonna need it.
Just remember: YOU and you’re writing are awesome!