How Do You Beat the Writer’s Blues?

Here they come again, unbidden.

The blues.

The writer's blues.

You're working on your novel and you realize what a piece of crap it is.  Unsalvageable.  Horrible.  You tried to make progress on an essay and started crying because it was just so, so bad.  You opened your email inbox and got excited to see a response from an agent–only to open it and find another rejection.

Whatever variation of the above happened, now you're stuck in the writer's blues.  And it ain't a good place to be.  Uh-uh.  Because when you're stuck in the writer's blues, it feels like you'll never get unstuck.  It feels like the end of the world.  You might even imagine that you'll never write again.  Ever.  We so closely ally ourselves with our writing, that when its not going well, the result can be shattering.

What to do?  Following are some suggestions gleaned from years of dealing with said blues.  Try one, some, or all of them until you get one that works for you.

1. Remember that its all part of the creative cycle.  What goes up, must come down, and so forth.  The blues are the opposite of the elation you'll no doubt soon feel after a great writing session.  One can't exist without the other.

2. Cry.  Yes, really.  Quit resisting the blues and go full bore into them.  Too often in this culture we try a bit too hard to make ourselves feel better.  And then we start to think that we're supposed to be happy and joyful all the time.  Not so.  It's much healthier to allow yourself to feel whatever you're feeling.

3. Call a writing friend.  Note the emphasis on the writing part.  Yeah, your spouse is supportive, your daughter a huge fan of your work.  But nobody but another writer can understand what you're feeling right now.  If you don't have any in-person writing friends, reach out on the internet.  Visit a blog and leave a comment.  Drop into a writing forum.

4.  Read.  Inhale more words.  Sometimes we get dried up, having put too many words on the page, and need a refill.  Words in, words out.  Top yourself off with some reading.  Of course, that can also have the opposite effect, and make you feel you'll never be as good as the author.  In that case, proceed to the next suggestion.

5. Drink.  Pour yourself a nice glass of red.  Nothing like the nectar of the Gods to cheer a person up.  In truth, wine has a grounding effect on us, and when we're upset, we're often out of ourselves, out of our bodies.  Or, if you're an abstainer, you might try…

6. Create a ritual.  You might want to light a candle and meditate for a bit.  Or walk a labyrinth.  Talk to God, or the goddess, or whomever.  Do something that will shift the burden from yourself.

7.  Go outside.  Ah, the healing balm of nature.  Try getting your hands in the dirt, or going for a walk or a run.  Rent a kayak, take a swim.  So often we sit at our desks in misery when what we really need to do is get out there and do something.

8.  Take a daycay.  I just made that word up.  It means a day trip.  I've done several of them this year and I never fail to come home refreshed, with a new outlook on life.  Visit a nearby town, go on a mini roadtrip, or simply park your car in a different part of town and see what you discover.

9.  Treat yourself.  I'm not much of a shopper these days, but I still love nothing better than to spend time in a bookstore.  Peruse the new titles, and check out the bestsellers.  Look at journals and read magazines.  I love me some magazines.

10.  Write.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  But more often than not, getting back on the proverbial horse is the best cure for the writer's blues.  Just convince yourself to write one word.  One teensy little word.  There, see?  Now write another.  Now write a sentence.  Oops, what's that I see?  You're writing, by God!

Those are my suggestions.  What do you do when the writer's blues hit?  How do you pull yourself out of them?

**If you've got the blues over your writing and can't seem to get over them, check out my Labor Day Coaching Sale–10% off on my coaching packages.  You can buy one or several, use it now or later, your choice.  But the discount ends on Monday, September 3rd, at midnight!

Image by kaliko.