Being in a funk comes with the writing territory.
Because writers are already of the sensitive, angsty type, we are the first to fall into a depressive funk. At best, these funks slow us down and sap our motivation. At their worst, the blues can paralyze your creativity completely. You could be so down you pick up self-destructive behaviors. (Don’t do that! Addiction is never flattering!) I know I’ve sat down with my word count and my work-in-progress looming wanted it to go away.
What should you do instead if you’re feeling a little down?
Take a self care inventory. Are you getting enough sleep? Have you eaten well? Do you have any symptoms that need to be remedied medically? Are you well hydrated. Sometimes all we need is a little personal TLC to chase the blues away.
Determine the cause of the funk. I’m writing this post in the middle of a funk. I thought that the reason I was down was because I didn’t see the results I wanted in something I tried. But I think now that I’m emotionally exhausted from making three major decisions in the course of a week. No wonder I’m blue. I don’t have any emotional energy.
Pick up a pencil. There’s value in being creative while you’re feeling down. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, you’ll feel better if you’ve accomplished a little toward your dreams. After the timer goes off, you may feel your spirit lightened. You may even want to write more.
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Vent. Often just finding an appropriate adult to talk to about matters is the best medicine. Find someone trustworty with whom you could get your frustrations off your chest.
Be honest with your emotions. Sometimes we feel down because we aren’t owning up to what’s really bothering us. I’m also kind of upset that someone in my life is way too anxious about the future. Maybe I’ll talk to them about that. Maybe I won’t. Either way, I need to at least be honest with myself.
“Depression on my left, Loneliness on my right. They don’t need to show me thier badges. I know these guys very well.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert
Count your blessings. A sure fire way to beat the blues is to list, literally or figuratively, all of the things that are going right in your world. Maybe spend 10 minutes on gratitude before you start your creative work. I’m sure your mood will shift a little.
Give yourself room to fail. I know that when I fail to meet my own expectations, I’m down for a while. How better it would be if I would give myself a little grace. I need to stop connecting my value to my achievements and accomplishments and be content at times.
“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.”
― Dodie Smith
Yoga, breathing and meditation. It isn’t hard to stop and breathe deeply for ten minutes. Your body has a way of resetting itself with deep breaths. Think about your gratitude list, or affirm yourself for a few minutes. Stop and stretch and relax all your muscles. You will feel better when you seek a bit of physical peace.
Seek professional help. This is the most important item on this list. A professional mental health worker can give advice that a writers blog never should. I know that seeing a therapist regularly made a huge difference in my life. Most insurance covers this cost. Make the call and don’t hesitate.
“I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.”
― John Keats
I also asked my friends on my Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists, what they would do. Here are their answers:
Rebecca Williams Waters I walk. A little exercise gets me feeling better and my mind refreshed.
Jane Lebak I find some kind of word count tracker, that way I am forced to “feed the ticker” every day.
Sheri Williams All the time. I read when it gets to bad. Or listen to really loud music.
Sara Marschand I find a buddy who’s working and they help focus me, if it’s not too bad, but sometimes I bingewatch my anxiety away.
“I have deep feelings of depression… What can I do about this?’
‘Snap out of it! Five cents, please.”
― Charles M. Schulz
Erin Phillips Oh am I feeling that right now! It’s awful how outside things can effect our motivation to write, but for me journalling about the problems I’m feeling gives me some release before I try to do anything else. Otherwise, I find my current upset-ness infiltrates my writing more than I’d like.
Leya A Brown I journal for a little to unload the junk.
Christine Hennebury I write a bit about what is bothering me and then I ‘put it away’ for short periods of time.i.e. I set a timer for 10 minutes and write about something else. Then I go back to the writing about the issue. Then I take a break.
Pam Humphrey If I don’t go read or watch Netflix, I will sometimes pick a scene in my WIP I like and read for a bit. It helps pull me into my own story.
Michele Mathews I’m in a winter funk, too. We haven’t seen the sun in a few days. Sometimes reading or watching TV helps, but the best thing for me is to go to Starbucks. I get a task or two I want to get done while I’m there. Getting out of the house gives me different scenery and being away from the house makes me focus on my writing. I can’t get up and do anything else and get sidetracked.
Tanya Miranda Find a prompt online. Sometimes, I’ll find a really nice art piece and try to write something to go with it.
We all have down days.
You don’t want your blues to control too much of your life. You surely don’t want a dark day to sap your creativity. Try these suggestions to life yourself out of that writing funk.