Disenchanted with My Scribble

Disenchanted with My Scribble
Image provided by Ken Lee
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenleewrites/

It must have been before Christmas, maybe even before Thanksgiving that I became unbelievably cynical about my abilities as a writer. I suppose many writers go through this at least once during their serious endeavors in the craft, but it’s a poignant thing to experience nevertheless.

The words had been sticking in the most unfortunate places. Most of mine peeked out just before I wanted to use them, and then snap–the word literally vanished from my mind all together as I’d take my pen to paper or my fingers to the keyboard. I looked through dictionaries and thesauruses trying to recover these words. On rare occasions, I did spot them. Still, many times they continued to elude me until the wee hours of the morning. I’d be sleeping soundly when all of a sudden, I’m either looking at the wall or over my spouse into the darkness of the room with the word forefront in my brain. I insisted on getting up and writing it down every time this happened or I’d forget once again.

The summaries I wrote before burrowing into a project, sounded interesting, intriguing, even compelling. Yet, by the time I got three or four pages into the draft, my doubts had multiplied and diversified. What in the hell do I think I’m doing. This story is preposterous! The plot is senseless! The characters are wooden and fake! I’d read what I had over and over again seeing if there was something worth saving. Usually I’d save settings. I’d still be enthralled with where the story was to take place even though the storyline and the characters was worthless.

Even with all I’ve tried to salvage in the project, last November–maybe December–I felt my competence to produce anything worth reading had jilted me like a self-centered lover sneering with glee. All I could think to do that would keep me from the unfulfilling writing process was big bowls of popcorn and reruns of Sex and the City, with breaks of the repeats of Law and Order. Of course, watching Sarah Jessica Parker get drench by a puddle from the street numerous times and Chris North saving the day on a New York street for the umpteenth time had to stop sometime. Those were the times I wrote the less-than-satisfactory blog posts.

Those of you who have been unduly faithful to my blog must have noticed the steep and severe decline in the quality of my posts. I felt no gusto coming from my efforts, no matter how hard I worked at it. I felt as if I was writing to a void beyond one of the black holes in outer space. To say the least, the Christmas season was grim for me. Because I’m a firm non-believer in New Year resolutions, my slump continued on into this year, but I did start trying new tactics–starting in February–to alleviate the disgust of my passion.

Some writers say they do their best work when experiencing sleep deprivation or hunger. Maybe it’s true for them, but I need at least six hours of sleep to feel alert enough to write anything. Being hungry is not an option for me either. If I don’t eat, my brain goes in circles getting nothing done. Yet—get this—I’m not a big fan of eating, wishing I had a little door on my stomach so I could open it and shove the food in.

This last month it finally dawned on me that in addition to sleep and food, maybe I needed more liquid in my system. Way long ago before the issue of age crept into my life, the only medicine I took was over-the-counter for the occasional run-of-the-mill illnesses and a prescription once in a great while for those nagging more serious illnesses. Now I’m taking four medications daily so I don’t die of a heart attack or anxiety. Three of them can and will dehydrate me. I used to think two huge mugs of coffee and two huge mugs of tea per day was enough liquid unless I actually felt thirsty. No, I was wrong. Recently I’ve started drinking two or three liter bottles of water each day in addition to the coffee and tea. It’s amazing how the hydrated body can improved a person’s mood and productivity.

I’ve always been one to do moderate exercise, but because of that age issue and having a broken kneecap a few years ago, in addition to the mobility problems I’ve had for so long, my limited abilities to exercise have increased. There was a time when I could go for somewhat exhilarating walks or do a half-hour on an exercycle. Now, because the gate of my walk is so odd, these activities can’t be done effectively. I used to do mat exercises but it’s getting more difficult for me to get down on or up from a mat. This isn’t stopping me though. Not long ago I was introduced to “half squats”. This is a marvelous exercise. I sit in a straight chair, stand up, and then sit down again. It gets my heart pumping after doing a mere 30 of them. This takes less than five minutes to do. Pressed for time but still want the exercise? Do “half squats”.

Early last week I noticed a slight improvement in my writing. Is the writing slump over? I don’t know yet. The words are coming to me like a trickle of water flows in a creek after a long summer. I’ve gotten past the first two scenes in a story. My writing sessions are back up to two hours or longer. It’s a “wait and see” game right now.

Being disappointed in oneself is dreadful beyond what words could ever say. I’m sure it isn’t just writers who go through this. Not by a long shot, right?

§

What are your slumps like? What do you do to get out of them?

There isn’t a person anywhere who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can. – Henry Ford

 

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24 Replies to “Disenchanted with My Scribble”

  1. When you get caught in the trap of not being happy with what you’ve written or your plot line it may be you’re tired or may be that you’re being a little too self critical. The best thing to do is stop writing and put the work away for a week. Return to it with fresh eyes and read what you’ve written. If you’re still unhappy then scrap it, but chances are you’ll view it differently when you come at it as a reader rather than a writer.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Like

    1. David, I know I should probably take another step back when the slump invades. I do take a step back, but it is only the one. The problem was with my writing in general. It wasn’t a particular story I was writing. As I mentioned, my posts to this were suffering too. I do think my general physical health was slipping because now that I’ve upped the exercise and liquid the flow is beginning to come back. I won’t say I’m positive about all of this yet though. I’m waiting for more proof.

      Thank you for your moral support. It’s something I find invaluable. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glynis, I love your new blog look. Plum is one of my favorite colors.
    I’ve read this post but it’s late, I’m tired, and want to re-read it tomorrow before I make a comment about your dilemma.

    Like

  3. This post seemed to flow right along Glynis. I’m not sure if you count this as writing (I do) but I enjoyed it. It’s interesting what you say about hydration. It is very important and coffee and tea don’t count. I have to remember that. I also smiled a little at the “mat exercise” part. I am supposed to do traction and some exercises on a foam roller for my neck and shoulder. It’s so hard to get down on the floor for those that I sometimes skip them.

    Good luck with breaking through the doldrums.

    Like

    1. For the first time in a long long time when I read this post (last editing effort), I liked what I wrote and like the way I wrote it even more. This felt as though it was a breakthrough. Do writers have breakthroughs?

      When I was able to do the mat exercises, I honestly and truly enjoyed doing them. The anxiety issues I have get me all tied up in knots, sometimes to the point where thinking for myself is a major struggle. All the stretching, pulling, and pushing seems to unlace many of the knots. I still do these types of exercise, just limited to the ones I can do standing or sitting. My husband has neck and shoulder problems too. He doesn’t do his exercises like he should either. Sometimes I’d like to tell him off but I won’t. Exercise is one of those things you have to decide on by yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Glynis,
    You’re not alone! All bloggers have down times, me too.
    Last week I decided to do something about it. I saw Mary Jaksch’s Blog Writer’s Bootcamp flagged up on her blog and I’ve signed up for it.
    So far I’m learning loads and feel rejuvenated ; you might like to take a look at what’s involved.
    I’m sure she’ll send you all the details.
    maryjaksch@gmail.com

    Like

    1. The slump was a long one but I think it may be over, although, because I’m superstitious, I’m still holding out for absolute proof. I’ll be re-walking through what I did on this post–figuratively that is–and see if I can nail some of what was working for me while I wrote this piece.

      I participated in a blogging boot camp three years ago. Much of what I learned doesn’t apply with what and how I write today. The mission of my blog is to find comradeship with people who are passionate about similar subjects. The stats really aren’t all that important to me anymore.

      Like

      1. I like the way you can clearly state the mission of your blog – to find comradeship and share passions. I also love your new colour scheme … you inspire me to take a fresh look at changing mine.

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        1. I wasn’t sure about using the word ‘comradeship’ but the word friendship has become such a wishy-washy term, mostly due to Facebook. The word ‘passion’ is a buzz word in the realm of writing these days and yet it can easily be applied to other areas of intense interest.

          I like this look too, at least for the time being. But Linda, when it come to design and visual art, I’m undeniably fickle. Expect changes every few months at this blog.

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  5. I hate slumps. Among other reasons why, what’s a writer to do when s/he can’t write? Me, I switch from fiction to non-fic. They’re so different, it forces me to approach the books differently which ultimately frees up my creativity. I’ve been on non-fic for about a year and just about ready to switch back.

    Like

    1. I don’t think creativity was/is my problem. The ideas are bumping around in my head anyway. It’s been more of a slump of writing skill. I have all the tools to help me with skill, yet until very recently what was showing up on paper or the screen was the equivalent of the fifth grader. My degree of knowledge about the craft wasn’t making it from my brain to my fingers. I was in a mode of degenerating. Since late last week my abilities in this field have started to return. The only question now is will it continue to improve, will it level out before I’ve reach where I used to be, or will it drop into the pit again?

      Maybe it’s an issue about self-confidence or self-esteem–kind of like your fear of losing documents. O_o

      Like

  6. Your posts always flow well and are wonderful reading. I believe you are too self critical. All the negative points you mentioned, I know. Only too well. I’m editing my NaNo work and guess what. Last week I was ready to burn the whole thing, laptop included. The most difficult part is we tend to compare our work with others. Don’t. We are each unique. Only you can say what you say the way you do.
    David made a great point. If a piece feels flat, leave it for a while and go on to something else. Next time you’ll view it with new eye.
    Wish you all good things, Glynis. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Like

    1. Tess, I always try to make the posts flow well, but you must admit I’ve been missing the boat a little since November. The beginnings have started too soon and the ending have been abrupt. In between has been okay but nothing to really say is good. Howbeit, when I went over this post for editing, it sounded like me in my head, but better. It’s been ages since I’ve felt good about what I’ve written. Is my effort finally clicking? O_o

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a wonderful post. And yes–writers have breakthroughs all the time! It’s occurred to me recently that seemingly mundane things away from the keyboard (diet, exercise, rest, etc) have a serious impact on what happens AT the keyboard. Sometimes other areas of our life need to be addressed first, and everything else starts falling back into place afterward. This has been my recent experience with writing. 🙂

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    1. Nice to have the confirmation about this idea concerning ‘breakthroughs’. When I thought of using the word, visions of psychiatrists, patients suffering depression or another such illness, and the uncomfortable looking recliner in the doctor’s office came to mind. Yet what else would it be called when you suddenly have improvement in the area you want it so desperately? I tried to find a synonym for the word but all I found just didn’t say what ‘breakthrough’ says.

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  8. Glynis, I’m sorry you’re going through so much self doubt. It’s hard to do the things we love when we fear we’re failing before we complete the task at hand.
    I used to teach (art) and this is what I told my young students:
    If this project isn’t working the way you like, stop and put it aside. Don’t destroy it, just start something new, with a completely different perspective and media. For you, that might mean putting aside your current story (but SAVE it) and start writing poetry, flash fiction, a personal journal, or even letters to friends.
    Get out of your house and find something worthy to do, perhaps through your local shelter, library, or any social service opportunity that appeals to you. We had a very elderly family member who worked at Meals on Wheels even when she was eligible for the service. It gave her great satisfaction to help others and she found great company in the activity. I know of few people who can hole up at home forever and find stories worth writing about. I know you have physical limitations but many communities, often through community college extension or emeritus programs, offer exercise classes for the elderly or disabled.
    Last, and for me, most important: The spark isn’t going to ignite in a closed, angry, restricted, frightened mind. I believe that a person is most inventive, creative, perceptive, responsive, aware of the world, and capable of sharing when they are vulnerable. In other words, when they are open, even injured. It makes us sensitive to seeing the world with more compassion. Turn your doubt and disappointment into something positive and wonderful.
    In short: open your lemonade stand. Then you’ll have something to write about.

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    1. Your wisdom is taken, Sharon, and I know that there must be something I can do to broaden my every day life experience. I know that once the weather gets warmer, my opportunities will increase. If nothing else, I can fix things up outside better here at home for me so I can do some gardening. Maybe no one sees the little changes in this post from the previous ones in this blog, but I can see them and they give me great hope.

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      1. I haven’t been following you long enough to notice a change in your writing, but as noted, I certainly love your new appearance. Visual effects are immediate. Inspired by you, I’m going to see about changing my blog’s appearance as well.
        I love gardening though my garden doesn’t especially respond to my coaxing. Every time I bring home a new plant, my son says, ” Another innocent victim.” One day I’ll get a story out of that. 😀

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        1. I’m not all that good at gardening but if I get perennial starters, they’ll grow for me. Annuals don’t like me and it may be because I’m not all that fond of them. The thought of having to replant every single year is not my idea of fun. I want to plant them, water when necessary, pull the dumb weeds, and sit down and admire my work.

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  9. I so enjoyed this open, honest look at the less than happy periods in a writing life. I think many of us experience them, but usually talk about them in generalities, not the specifics you provided. Thank you for helping me realize I’m not crazy when I toss and turn at night trying to get the word of comparison I thought of while walking but can no longer remember.

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    1. I’ve always believe I wasn’t the first one to have such troubles with the exact pursuit of my passion. Yet, I have wondered if it affects others the way it does with me. All the self loathing that goes on even knowing that others go through this.

      It appears that I have come out of this downtrend, but I don’t know for how long, of course.

      Thank you for squeezing time in you day to read this post. It’s most appreciated.

      Like

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