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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

 

When The Passion Fizzles

I wrote that blog post title and thought of the old one-liner : “SEX. Now that I have your attention…”

Sorry, people. We’re skipping sex and going straight to passion. Because whether it’s sex or art or work or writing, without passion, it’s all pretty boring.

Unfortunately, there are times when the passion ebbs. When life throws a couple serious curveballs and the last thing you feel like doing is writing a humorous essay. Or maybe the grind of day-in, day-out writing weighs you down with indifference. Or possibly the frustration of watching others succeed while you still plug away has left you drained, with a “meh” scrawled across the page.

It’s not that you’re blocked. It’s just the blahs. And if you’re not careful, the blahs can turn into a three-year detour and waking up one morning, thinking, “Didn't I want to be a writer once?”

Writer friends don’t let writer friends quit. So let’s consider a few cures for when the passion fizzles:

Permission to Take a Break

Sometimes, you just have to take a break from writing. Circumstances may come along making it impossible to find the time to write, much less tap into your creativity. The problem with taking a break is that it can s-t-r-e-t-c-h into a permanent vacation. So when you absolutely need a break, give yourself permission to take off, but also give yourself a time limit, an actual date that you will get back to writing. Even if, when you get back to writing, you have to resort to the next tactic.

Write Through It

I’ve had to write through challenging situations. But honestly, most writers will tell you the same. And I suspect they do what I do: follow the “fake it till you make it” plan. It’s stringing together one word after another and pushing on, even if the words don’t exactly sing. Chances are good that the words will still carry the tune until you get your perfect pitch back. (Or maybe you’re still falling flat. See the next step.)

Change of Scenery

I know you’re hoping I mean a change of scenery to some exotic port of call. But if I took off for Acapulco every time I faced the writing blahs, I’d be broke (or more broke than I already am). No, I’m suggesting a walk around the block. Or maybe a brisk stroll in the park. Get those endorphins pumping through your system. Not only will you feel physically better, you’ll feel more creative. Or so say the scientists who study the effects of walking.

Change of Pace

Of course, you can also rev up the endorphins with a change of writing pace. Pump up your brain cells with a stimulating challenge. If you can’t take another minute of that dry article you’ve been working on, give your mind a little break and tackle something different. I sometimes try the Saturday Evening Post limerick contest. Maybe you’d like to try the WOW!Women on Writing Spring Flash Fiction contest. The important thing here is to keep working. One of these strategies is bound to put the passion back in your writing and make those words sizzle again. As for sex…

(Seriously? You fell for that again?)

~Cathy C. Hall





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11 Comments:

Blogger Sioux said...

Cathy--Your suggestions are all good ones.

Juggling a variety of projects (not that I am submitting dozens of different pieces like Linda O'Connell) helps, so when I am stuck with one, I can switch gears and work on a different one--that helps me.

Knitting for a bit to take a break or playing ball with our tennis ball-obsessed dog gives me a break as well.

And you're right. Passion is the key. If we slobber and spray spittle over a great book, if we spit and gesticulate over an idiotic politician, if we drool and moan over...a piece of fudge (you thought I was going to say Viggo Mortensen, didn't you?), it's proof we're passionate about it, and it draws in others.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Good post, Cathy! I think your warning of how the blahs can turn into a three year detour is spot on.

Taking a break is often necessary but putting that time limit on it is essential or that detour will rear its ugly head again.

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

4:59 AM  
Blogger Lori Schafer said...

Great advice, Cathy! I particularly like the technique of changing up your style - if I get bored, I find it really helps me to write "something else" for a while.

BTW, "When the Passion Fizzles" is a fantastic title - totally caught my attention!

6:45 AM  
Blogger Cathy C. Hall said...

You can't fool me, Sioux. You were *thinking* of Viggo. :-)

And yes, Madeline, I've known some fine writers who've been derailed. Not because they didn't have good ideas but because their heart was no longer in it. Passion can fuel the perseverance needed to succeed!

Why thank you, Lori. A good title is golden, isn't it? :-)

7:39 AM  
Blogger Crystal Otto said...

Cathy,

Thank you for this post - I loved it! Without passion, things become meaningless and mundane.

~Crystal

10:06 AM  
OpenID lisaricardclaro.com said...

To channel Robert Di Niro, "You talkin' to me?" 'Cuz just a few years ago I was right there, where my break had turned from weeks to months to--gulp!--a year or so. You are the one who nudged and pushed until I started my blog which was the lighting of the fuse. It's been a very long fuse, miles and miles of fuse, and there is no big bang in my near future, but that's okay. As long as the fuse, and the passion, keep burning, I won't lose that integral part of myself. Thanks for being such a nag. :)

11:16 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

I'm still reading the comments hoping something in here is about sex. :) LOL Thanks for the reminders. What's important, in my opinion, is DON'T GIVE UP! Everyone goes through it.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Linda O'Connell said...

I happen to be in a slump, so your post has been helpful. When I walk I find inspiration and ideas. I need to go take a hike.

3:45 AM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Cathy,
Great tips! And so timely since a BIG deadline is looming. I can't not write but I don't always feel like it...
--SueBE

8:06 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

This is very well timed for me. I'm in a tough place in life and writing is just not coming for me. I think it's OK, at least for right now. I'm keeping my foot in the writing door, teaching a few things etc. But for now a wee break is in order.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

I had been in a writing slump because I had a new creative outlet/PASSION, but I think having a goal to get back on track would've helped, however, I kept feeling like it'd come back when it was good and ready... and it did!

2:28 PM  

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