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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#IWSG: Doldrums

It's the first Wednesday of a new year.  It's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group, whose mission is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! IWSG is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh Thanks, Alex, for starting this group and keeping it going. And thanks to this month's awesome hosts:  Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend



Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

You may recognize the above from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In maritime terms, the doldrums refer to calm periods when the wind disappears. The doldrums also refer to listlessness, inactivity, stagnation. Since before Christmas, I’ve been in the doldrums with my writing. I’ve written the blogs I’m committed to, but the work on my WIP is in a holding pattern.

First, I blamed it on the six weeks I spent in Arizona, visiting my son and his family. Hubs says I have a permanent crick in my arm from holding Baby Girl so much. He might be right on that. I took every chance I got to hold her, especially since we won’t see her again until August. She called more to me than my WIP. Then I blamed it on jet lag from returning home and all that being gone for so long entails. Whatever, the doldrums have me in their grasp.

I may have mentioned before that my writing chapter (Mid-Michigan RWA) promotes our own version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Each month we publicize our goal for the month then encourage each other on progress. This month I said I needed some butt-kicking to get my WIP back on track. Our organizer, Alyssa Alexander, gave me the first kick. But after two days, I still haven’t even opened the file.

I can support others, kick others, encourage them, but what can I do to get myself going?


Click here to find others on the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. Or go to IWSG on Facebook to see who’s blogging today.

68 comments:

  1. I've been feeling the doldrums myself, Diane. I think you will get back to writing when you feel ready. Maybe you still need a little more time to recover. If not, there is always the option of guilting yourself into writing:) Best of luck.

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    1. Thanks for the great advice, Murees. Guilt myself into writing. LOL Good one!

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  2. I've had a bit of problems with the doldrums myself. I need to write new poems for my next poetry book, work on doing a print version of the old poetry book, and work on a novel. But lately it seems all I can do is blog. Sometimes. I have managed a couple of short poems lately but that is about it.
    Perhaps you should set short goals: Just write one line. Just one. You can do that. (And once you've done that, you might find you can't stop at just one.)
    My blog: http://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks for the great advice, Nissa. One line. Yep, I can do that.

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  3. I have been feeling a big bout of doldrums, Daine. Need to get back to writing and reading. Looks like you enjoyed spending time with your son's baby girl. You must be missing her.

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    1. I am missing her. LOTS. Reading does help. It's refilling the well. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  4. It seems, from the above comments, that most of us go through the doldrums. I used to feel guilty about not writing. I don't any more. When I'm on a writing jag I'm pretty prolific. If you want to move back into writing, get a timer, set it for five minutes and write whatever comes to mind, stream of conscious stuff. Or pick an object in your house and describe it as if you were trying to tell a blind person what it looks like. Little writing prompts are sometimes all it takes to become re-inspired. Even so, don't beat yourself up too much about "making excuses." Perhaps your muse needs a vacation too.

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    1. Thanks, Bish. I think my muse has had enough vacation. LOL Good idea about the timer. I'll try that.

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  5. So much to be said for routine, eh? Sounds like your Arizona trip threw it off an you are having trouble finding it again? I, likewise, have had some trouble with this... so lets get to it!

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    1. Yes, the routine is off. I need to get back to it.

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  6. Those babies are too hard to resist! I like the suggestion of writing prompts. Those do help me when I've felt I've lost my mojo. You'll find your groove again! :)

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    1. Thanks, Christine. Yep, babies are so much more fun than work. LOL

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  7. I've been there with the doldrums. My worst enemy is when I start asking myself if the time spent writing is worth it when I could be doing more important things like cleaning or spending time with family. Those sort of thoughts depress me and send me right to the doldrums zone. Now, when I am just busy and give myself a "vacation" without the negative spin, I am always eager to hurry back to the key board.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Elizabeth. I'll pass on the cleaning but time with family IS more important.

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  8. Hi Diane, here's my two shillings of an idea - and what seems to be working for me. Obviously, there is something "stopping" you from the WIP, but I'm sure you miss the actual event of writing. Why not pick a subject you've always wanted to write about (or something you love) and see is muse wants to come out and play? You never know what may happen.

    Best wishes and "break a pencil" :)

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    1. Thanks, Mark. Great idea. Break a pencil??? Good one!

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  9. You're here doing IWSG - that will get you going! :)

    I know you already stopped by my blog and read my Fizzle post so you already know all about the great advice the IWSG-ers left over there. Good luck to you! We can do this! :)

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  10. Hi,
    Wow, that's a hard question. When I get into such places, I write in my journal. Normally, the reason why I am in the doldrums comes up and I am able to deal with it effectively. So, I would say go inside of yourself and ask yourself what happening.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

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  11. Don't kick yourself too hard, Diane. I used to do that or get someone to do the kicking but it can prove detrimental to the cause. If I lose interest in a WIP then I let it rest and do something else instead that excites me. If I've not been writing for a while and I need a burst of inspiration, I write openers for stories - short sharp, grab the edge of your seat types of things. They might not transpire into anything but they get my creative juices flowing again. Don't be too down on yourself. You deserve a break and family is so important. Never feel guilty about putting family first. Wishing you a more productive February.

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    1. Wow, Nicola. Thanks so much. Your comment is what I need to hear.

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  12. It's safe to say we all go through this. We just have to be patient and realize it's not our fault and not to blame ourselves. We all get back to our writing when it's the right time for us. Don't rush or kick yourself. You've got this!

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    1. Thanks, Chrys. I can always depend on you to set me straight. :)

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  13. I hear you! On so many levels. Sometimes it is sheer will. Open the document, shut off wifi, and stare at the screen or your words to revise and just do it. Other times I've gotten out a notebook and hand write in the character's voice to get ideas rolling. That works well and I am not sure why I don't do it every day.

    I'm writing about social media overload today with a few resource links on how to better focus your efforts: My IWSG post: Stephanie Scott

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    1. Even though I know my main characters well--3rd book in a series--I don't know the new ones well enough. You've given me a great idea, Stephanie. Thanks.

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  14. I think once we come out of our writing routines, it's very difficult to get back into them again. I know; I'm just trying to get back into mine. The best advice I can offer is force yourself to write, even if it's just a couple of lines. The next time you write, it might be a couple of paragraphs. Before you know it you'll be back to your old routine :)

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    1. Routines are so important, aren't they? Thanks for the advice, Laura.

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  15. I've been a victim of the doldrums lately too, I think it happens to everyone at some point! Don't stress about it - I find that stress tends to make the not-writing problem so much worse! I'm a firm believer that once your brain is ready, it'll fire off the ideas/be easier to start writing again, but if you absolutely HAVE to start writing, maybe just try a couple of sentences/paragraphs to begin with? Or work on something fresh and new for a while? Good luck!

    Rachel Pattinson
    February IWSG Co-host
    rachelpattinson.com

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    1. You are so right about stress, Rachel. Thanks for c-hosting this month.

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  16. Julianna Haygert blogged last year about writing 300 words a day. I tried it and quickly went from hardly a thousand words to over ten thousand with a problem WIP. It is on break now for more urgent projects but I'm so happy with what it has become. Maybe trying short 300 word bursts a day might get your motor running again Diane.

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    1. Great idea, Sheena-kay. 300 words aren't too many.

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  17. Ah...the doldrums. I know them well. I wish I had some sage advice to offer you, but I struggle finding wind for my sails too. Although, I suspect blogging about it as part of ISWG will provide some spark for you. All the best for getting out of the doldrums and off sailing again soon.

    Cheers - Ellen | thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Ellen. Everyone has such great advice. I'm sure something will work.

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  18. If you're not feeling your current project, I'd try looking at a previous piece (or even an idea you haven't written yet) to get the ball going. Also, sometimes when I really *REALLY* don't want to write, I force myself to sit down and just do it. It's a struggle for the first fifteen to twenty minutes, but then it kind of all comes together.
    And as odd as it seems, those are the nights I do my best work.

    Stick with it. You'll find the spark again.

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  19. I think winter has something to do with it. I just like to hibernate aka not get anything done.

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    1. Maybe that's it, Melanie. Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. I've been in a similar place. Other things are calling to me right now. I think it's fine. The writing will be there...

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I should take the advice I gave you. LOL

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  21. Oh, gosh, your post rings a bell. Too many bells, in fact. I too have been in the doldrums since before Christmas. I have some ideas, but putting them out, typing them seems impossible. I hope you could get out of your doldrums. Maybe your example will inspire me.

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    1. The others have given me a lot of great advice. Maybe that will help you, too. Good luck!

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  22. Been there too often, Diane. Trips out of town interrupting my routine usually cause it. If you settle back with a good book--novel or how to-I'll bet you'll bounce back. I can't read anything without wanting to write!! 😀

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    1. Thanks, Jess. I've been reading a LOT. I know that helps.

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  23. When I get like that I find opening the file is the hardest step. Once it's open, I'm good to go--I might be slow at first, but the more often I open that file and fight those doldrums, the easier it becomes, and the faster I work.

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    1. You're right, Lynda. I opened the file today and actually felt like writing.

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  24. I've had more than one dry spell where I apparently needed to rest. You'll get back to it better than ever when you are ready. Don't panic yet. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Thanks, Anna. I'm not panicking...yet. LOL

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  25. I've had times where I was in the doldrums too. The only thing that helped was to let myself off the hook and do a ton of free writing with no expectations. Sometimes just moving my hand across the page can get me back in the writing mindset.

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    1. Great idea, Elizabeth. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  26. I think sometimes when we're in the doldrums, it means there's a shift and change in our writing. That's been true for me, at least. Enjoy the rest without guilt. You'll know when it's time to resume.

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  27. Hope you find a fresh wind to sail you out of the doldrums soon!

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    1. Thanks, Sandra. I think that wind blew through last night thanks to all the IWSG'ers.

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  28. I've been blaming my doldrums - both blogging and writing - on all the traveling. I have hotel room time though, so maybe I should kick my butt into gear.

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    1. Part of my problem with routine was living at my son's house. (Such a problem with a wonderful DIL & Baby Girl. LOL) Finding a routine while traveling might help you, too.

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  29. How hard do you want me to kick you? What are friends for? My knees are bad but I can manage.

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    1. Hey! I felt that kick across the state. It must have done some good because I opened the file this am and started writing. Whoo-hoo!

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  30. Maybe you should try writing something else if your current WIP doesn't excite you. I'm working on a book that will include four stories and one has fallen a bit flat. So I'm focusing on the others and have an idea for a fifth that just might replace the flat one if I decide not finish it.

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    1. Good idea, Diane. I think I might have found my muse. She was back in AZ playing with Baby Girl.

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  31. Ug, the doldrums are the pits! Been there, done that, and will do it again I'm sure many times. Sometimes I think we need a break, and holding baby girl was more important anyway! I'm back to trying the same writing spot, the same time each day in order to keep pushing forward. Even if it's slow.

    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks, Charity. I agree about holding BG being more important. Routine certainly helps.

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  32. To me it's like working out, if you stop for any length of time, it is sooooo hard to get back into. But I have also noticed that it's like thirst. When you've gone long enough without a drink, or you've gone too long, you end up "dying" to get hands on that glass of water! I've also found that starting into it by reading what I last wrote is a good way to get motivated... Thanks for visiting my blog!

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    1. Great analogies, Lisa. I can really identify with the exercise comparison. I usually read what I've written (esp. if it's been a while) to get myself back into the story. It helps.

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  33. You need a bit BIC (Butt In Chair) I saw on another blog where a writer added to that anagram HOK (Hands on Keyboard) I thought that was cool. I have been hearing BIC a long time, but the added bit was new for me. Anyway... That is what you need. JUST DO IT! lol. Remember 21 days BIC will a habit create again. Too bad it only takes 24hr to through the habit out the window ROFL. Ah huh! I like to sketch sometimes to kick start my muse or find a picture that inspires me and use as a writing prompt. Happy Belated IWSG Day
    Juneta Writer's Gambit

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    1. BICHOK is excellent advice. Now if I would just use those fingers to write and not play games. :/

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  34. ooooh, some great advice here! I'm bookmarking this page and best of luck! ;-)

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  35. I agree with everyone who says don't get down on yourself. That just makes things worse. Sometimes there's so much going on it's hard to put that butt in the chair. What works for me is to turn off my internal editor and go back and start reading my story from the beginning. That always gets me back into it. But sometimes, my brain wants to work on something else, so I put that WIP away and pull out whatever's stuck in my head at the moment. It gets me started writing again.

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