A few years ago I addressed my sporadic writing behavior in a blog post called “Getting Through The Dip“. I decided to revisit that post and see how my opinion about it has changed.
To start, I feel like calling that phenomenon “The Dip” shows the youthful optimism I had back then. If I’d have written that post today I would probably have referred to it as “burnout” or “fatigue”. There’s a sense of transience that the phrase “The Dip” brings to my mind- a passing phase, like a stalling airplane, or a bird pf prey dipping into the water to catch a fish, as opposed to the dour permanence that the word “burnout” suggests, something like a burned out candle.
Here’s what I had to say about it back then:
“It is a terrible period of time where you are out of ideas, and the vacuum is often occupied by negativity. Everything I thought about or penned down sounded too mediocre, run of the mill, overdone or just simply, “not there”…”
I think I got the definition right back then. Although I’d add to it the fact that not only are the results of writing mediocre, the only things you do seem to want to write about are mired in and centered around this negativity that has permeated your head-space.
At that time I concluded that the only way to get out of this phase is to keep writing. “The only way out of this is right through the thick of it”, I said, and I am not sure whether that was simply my naivete or my attempt at cheering myself up and getting out of the mental state that I was in.
Here’s what I think about it right now— it’s not about plowing your way through it like you’re digging a tunnel till you see the light on the other side. This is a creative process, and it requires energy and effort to create, even if it’s something you do in your free time and isn’t related to your occupation. Your mental faculties need time to rest and recuperate, and attempting to power yourself through may not end as you would want them to.
I think that one of the issues I face is the fact that the blog is always on the back of my mind. I always want to keep updating it, keep putting something out there regularly. I want to keep feeding the content machine, I want to see those bar charts rise up on my WordPress stats page. Somewhere along the way I’ve decided that being a writer is something I attach a sense of identity to, and what am I if I don’t write anything? The first thing to be done is to let go of the sense of guilt that I feel when I see that I haven’t updated in a while.
The other thing to do is to challenge myself to write in ways I haven’t written before. I’ve been trying to find other ways to express myself creatively and try and experiment with different styles of writing. I read a post on LinkedIn that said, “the way to be a better writer is to write like you talk, and learn to talk better”. That sounded like a great idea to me and thus I decided to see how I fare with public speaking. What I found was that writing affords me time to think and craft sentences in ways that speaking extemporaneously does not. Writing and crafting a couple of prepared speeches has definitely been a refreshing experience as time limit constraints and the fact that how many words you can speak in a given time is much lesser than how many you can read in the same amount of time, has given me a lot to think about in terms of brevity and structuring.
Last but not least, it’s important to find ways to relax and “let life happen”, as they say. It’s important to rejuvenate the mind, whether it be through letting go of innate compulsions, trying new things, or just taking the time to live and experience life.
To conclude, I think I got a lot of things right about this mental phase back then. I was pleasantly surprised by my optimism about it though— I guess I’d lost track of it somewhere along the way. I don’t care about things like AdSense or money anymore, though I do care about writing and wanting to give something to the world that’s worth reading. Before I set out to write this all I could think about was how I was in a state of burnout, but going back through that old blog post really helped bring some levity back into this entire circumstance.