Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Writer's Blah by Shashauna P. Thomas

Shashauna P Thomas. 
You've finished all the other crap you had to do and finally it's that time of day you've set aside for writing. Your mind has been a buzz all day with story ideas, plot lines that make your heart race just thinking about them, and memorable characters practically screaming at you to write their tale. There is so much to do you can't wait to get started. You sit down at your computer, open word, put your fingers on the keyboard, and…and nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. You write one sentence and immediately delete it. Then you re-write that sentence only to once again delete it. You repeat this cycle over and over again. You find that you're easily distracted; much more than usual. It takes an hour to finally write something that normally would only take you a few minutes and you aren't even sure if what you managed to write is any good. Despite knowing what you want to write and exactly where you as the author want your work in process to go there is still something preventing you from writing? Yourself. And I'm sorry to tell you this, but I believe you're suffering from a case of Writer's Blah.
As a new writer I thought there was something wrong with me whenever this happened. I'd sit down to work on my writing and all of a sudden feel zapped of energy. Like I needed to take a break or a nap despite the fact I'd just sat down to work. I couldn't concentrate the way I usually do. I found myself needing to check my e-mail numerous times. Or I'd begin singing along to the music I play as background noise as if it were my favorite song of all time. Right in the middle of working on my manuscript. And worst of all the words that usually come so naturally to my brain, almost as if the characters were standing right beside me and telling me what to write, didn't seem to flow. I tried forcing myself to write and just work through it, but that didn't work. I either was completely unproductive or whatever I did manage to write needed a lot of work or if I were being completely honest with myself needed to be trashed completely.
I feared I might be on the verge of burning myself out so I'd take a day or two off from writing, but that too didn't work. When I wasn't writing it seemed as if my mind was on creative overload. I'd be in the middle of something else and all of a sudden a new idea would pop into my head. Like watching a TV commercial would inspire me to write a brand new story. I'd see it as clear as day then, but get me back in front of the computer and I'm once again having trouble transferring my ideas to paper. Almost as if adding insult to injury I'd feel completely guilty every time I took time off from writing. With so many story ideas yet to be written I felt as if I couldn't afford the time wasted not writing. I was in a funk and I didn't know why or how I got there or most importantly how to get out of it.
When I tried explaining the problem to friends they automatically thought I was suffering from Writer's Block or I was somehow overworking myself and was beginning to burn out. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it wasn't either of those. It wasn't 'til recently when a fellow author in one of my writer's group, Rose B. Thorny, brought up the topic of Writer's Blah for discussion did I finally realize what was going on with me. Listening to her description of Writer's Blah, a wonderful term she coined, and the responses of other writers in the group I quickly realized two very important things. One, she was describing what I'd been going through to a tee. And two, that it wasn't just me. There were other authors out there going through the same thing. That knowledge alone helped relieve some of the anxiety and stress I was having. And one of the main points I learned from the group's discussion was that for many of us stress was the main trigger for Writer's Blah.
Deck the Halls
All types of stress can affect your writing. Stress at home; stress at work; stress with family, friends, or loved ones; financial stress; writing stress; and of course my personal favorite future stress. When you worry and stress out about something that hasn't even happened yet. I learned a long time ago that stress kills creativity, but everyone has stress. They just learn to block it out or work around it. And that is what I thought I did, but apparently I wasn't as successful as I thought. I asked myself, 'if the stress that I have are the same ones people deal with every day then what was my problem?' and that's when it clicked. They dealt with their stress. They didn't block it out or work around it; they worked through it. And once they began working through it they realized something very important, that a lot of it is out of their control.
Once they realize what isn't in their control they can begin to focus on what is. We can't control how our family and friends act, but we can control how we react to them. If the company we work for is downsizing we can't control who they decided to keep and who they decided to let go, but we can continue to work hard and make sure the company sees us as invaluable. We can't control if our manuscripts are accepted or rejected, but we can make sure what we submit is great. And we can remind ourselves that we can resubmit our rejected manuscripts somewhere else. Often times we don't have control on how quickly money comes in each month, but we can make sure we do what we can with the money that does come in; especially in this fickle economy. No one knows what the future may hold, but we do what we can to make sure we're prepared for whatever may come.
Making sure to keep a clear perspective on my stress helped me to deal with Writer's Blah when I had it. Realizing I'm not the only author who has had Writer's Blah and talking about it with other authors helps me to know how to deal with it in the future and it helps me to become a better author. And As Rose B. Thorny did to our writer's group I pose this question to you all. Have you ever experienced Writer's Blah? And if so how did you snap yourself out of it? What triggered it for you? Are you suffering from Writer's Blah now? If you are, don't worry you're not alone.
Christmas Do Over
Info about the Author:
            Shashauna P. Thomas graduated from Cornell University and SUNY Stony Brook with two BAs' before returning to the Bronx where she was born and raised. It wasn't until after college that she first began writing erotic romances for open call submissions. That is when she discovered that writing was her true passion and she's been crafting the vivid tales she sees in her head ever since. With the love and support of family, friends, and her sorority sisters the D.I.V.A.S. of Lambda Fe Usöñ Sorority Inc. she has had a number of her erotic stories published. One of her greatest hopes is that her stories inspire her readers to be open-minded and to not be afraid to try new things. And most importantly to follow their hearts no matter where it leads them.
Buy Links:
Deck the Halls:
Christmas Do-Over:
Bondage by the Bay – Tales of BDSM in San Francisco:


  1. Shashauna,

    I'm definitely in the throes of Writer's Blah at the moment. And I like your suggestions a lot.

    Thank you!

  2. Hi, Shashauna,

    I'm still in throes of Writer's Blah, since I coined and posted that phrase, and thanks so much for doing such a bang-up job of blogging about the condition. I've started so many flashers and short stories in the past few months and finished practically nothing because that "blah" feeling just seems to overtake me after the first few steps (which can be equal to a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand words...sometimes more. I feel like I'm running a foot race and get out of the gate, but rght after that first burst of speed, Writer's Blah is galloping up behind me on Secretariat. Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa.

    You're right of course, about the control thing. There is so much that isn't controllable, but our responses to all that stuff is. Sometimes, just two or three good nights' sleep in a row is enough to turn things around for a spell. You know... that darned day job puts a damper on everything, but the bank account craves it.

    An excellent post, Shashauna. Lots to think about.

    Rose ;-)

    1. Hey Rose,
      Thank you for bringing the topic up for discussion and putting a name to it. Like I said before I'm still considered a new author and I didn't know what was wrong with me when I had it. And I don't think it is something that comes and goes so easily. It is something we have to deal with on more than one occasion. One more hurdle we have to learn to overcome. I really started doubting my ability to be a professional writer until I made the realization that I was letting things out of my control effect me so much. And I don't want any other authors to ever do the same. Self doubt in one's abilities to create can be the worse.

  3. Have been there so long it was starting to feel like home. This is helpful info.

    1. No matter how long you've been there you can still get out. Don't give up.

    2. I've done a lot of things differently and it's made a difference. I've started writing again. It feels wonderful. Took me a long time, but I have broken the ice.

  4. Wow! I have three books started and can't seem to finish any. I'll have to think about this. Thanks so much.