Writer’s Meh

The other day one of the Passionate Critters said she was having trouble getting motivated to get any writing work done. She knew what she wanted to write, knew she had some edits to do, but her heart wasn’t in it. Other things were just more interesting. Six of us responded that we felt the exact same way, including me. It’s not writer’s block–which I don’t really believe in, anyway–but it is a writer’s meh, which totally exists.

I have two books in various stages of completion, and while I have a third out on submission I should be working on them. One is so close to being done it’s practically taunting me. I was a bit stuck on where I was going with it, but last week I had a brainstorming session with a friend and I realized exactly what I needed to do. But I still haven’t been able to keep my butt in the chair, and some days I can’t even get it there at all.

It’s very easy to blame writer’s meh on lack of time or  life stress–especially during tax season, which is particularly painful when one is self-employed–but that’s really just an excuse. There’s always time to write, even when life is being persnickety.

I think writer’s meh stems from a need to check out for a while. To take stock of where you are as a person, writer, mom, wife, worker, whatever. To clear the brain of cobwebs, I suppose. (I’m thinking a lot about spiders today–I found FOUR in my house this morning. *shudder*) Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure how to get rid of it. The meh, I mean, not the spiders. I’m pretty clear on how to get rid of those.

Perhaps just a little time is the answer, although a writer friend suggested a meditation exercise that might help. In any case, I think I’m close to getting the cobwebs out, to getting the brain ready to get back to work, and to pushing the writer’s meh away, at least until next time.

How about you? What do you call this weird period of non-productivity? How do you get through and out of it? All of us critters could use your suggestions. 🙂


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About Marin McGinnis

A lawyer in real life, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian era romance and mystery. She's spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She's been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and has one teen-aged son. They all live together in a drafty old house with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. While her very first book will languish under the bed, the next book, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next two books, Secret Promise and Tempting Mr. Jordan, are also available from Wild Rose Press. Marin currently serves as President of the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America and is hard at work on the next book. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

22 Responses to Writer’s Meh

  1. Beth says:

    Oh yeah! I don’t believe in writers block either. 😛 But I can get behind the Meh. And if you want to know…as far as cobwebs go, you just have to start in one corner and get cleaning. But then, in order to keep them away, you have to sorta clean regularly. 🙁 Booo.

    I think that works for writers, too. We can’t let stuff pile up. The drafts, the other obligations. When that happens, we end up without time to write, because instead of cleaning a little every day [say, half hour to do promo, two hours to write, one hour to take care of business like that book club or that Lady’s Night Out] we end up thinking about how things are piling up and then freaking out in the last minute [because of spiders] and cleaning everything at once.

    I think we just have to be persistent. That’s not to say it’s easy. And sometimes, our mental state plays a role, which is why we have to take care of ourselves! Take breaks but work every day.

    THat comment was so rambly! LOL 😀 #missPC

  2. peggy jaeger says:

    Marin- your post came at a particularly apropos time for me! I, too, am feeling the writing mehs. Two books currently being penned, two in final edits and galleys. Looking for an agent and planning to attend RT next week. PLus a dancing competition this weekend. I need to check out on writing for a few days, but fee…guilty doing so.

  3. KatieO says:

    Loved your post and can totally relate. Unfortunately, I’m also feeling this way about my day job which is not good. Fortunately I have a 2 week vacation on the near horizon and am hoping to recharge my batteries and come back ready to work and write and get stuff done. Except, of course, the dusting. I can still make an excuse not to do that, right?
    KatieO recently posted…Writing Wednesday: Taking it SeriouslyMy Profile

  4. Tammy L. Bailey says:

    Great blog. I go through this a lot. I believe what really helps me is to exercise. Run, walk, DANCE, jump rope. Good Luck on your submission and other projects.

  5. Ilona Fridl says:

    I go through that, too. What I usually do is get my mind completely off it. Sometimes when a story gets all-consuming it’s like too much of a good thing. It gets stale. When I do something else, I can get back with fresh ideas.

  6. Claire Marti says:

    I hear you! Exercise, yoga, and meditation are so helpful. You need to let your brain rest for a little bit–I like to think of it as percolating. A few weeks ago, I led the chat for TWRP all about Wellness for Writers. I’m a yoga and meditation teacher. I included links to free mini-yoga classes and meditations. One of the meditations is a visualization about creativity. Try it!

    • I was sorry to miss that chat, Claire! I really wanted to participate but I had a conflict. I do need to do more yoga–I always feel better when I do. At our local RWA chapter meeting this month our speaker did a meditation exercise for visualizing a scene to get the creative juices flowing. So helpful!

  7. Amanda Uhl says:

    Thoughtful post Marin. I’m in this state right now. I should be writing my next book but I’ve been so busy marketing my first, I can’t settle down to write. I also think there’s a lot of pressure on published authors to produce the next work and make it good. We start looking at the writing process as a “job” we’d rather not do rather than a creative process that brings us joy. Therein lies the “Meh.”

  8. Barbara Bettis says:

    Here’s another hand up for Meh! Amanda makes a good point, too. But I do find just giving myself permission to get away from it for a bit helps tremendously. Otherwise, I feel guilty and pressured.

  9. tena says:

    Usually it happens when I’m overwhelmed. At all times I usualy have a book in edits, one in first draft stage and one I am researching, visiting authors on my blog and write a weekly blog. I concentrate on my breathing for a couple minutes, do a little yoga, take the dog for a walk and put my behind back in the chair with one attainable specific goal. I can’t get up until that goal is achieved.
    tena recently posted…Fury of a Viking by Sky PuringtonMy Profile

  10. Oh yeah….I’m completely in the meh right now. Trying to get the freelance editing work going is sucking up all my extra time. And that darn full time job…jeez…they actually expect me to show up daily and work. Since I’m a little OCD about things, I try and really change it up when I hit a wall. Instead of writing in a linear fashion, I’ll just pick a random scene that is clear in my head and write it. I get stuck on how to get characters from point A to point B, so I’ll just skip to point B and write. Usually the transition will eventually come to me. Or I beat it into submission with my mallet and go from there.

    • I hear ya on the dreaded day job. Mine is crazy right now!

      I do wish I was capable of writing in a non-linear fashion, but although I can sometimes write the end and then go back, skipping scenes never works that well for me. I obsess over what I skipped and how to get to the scene I just wrote and end up scrapping the random scene. The perils of pantsing, I suppose. Perhaps I should pull out the mallet… 🙂

  11. When this happens to me, it’s usually because I have something in the way. In my case, it is often a messy desk or some paperwork thing I need to take care of before I can get back to the writing. I find that taking care of that little chore (it may only take ten minutes) really does help.

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