What To Do?

What can you do when you lose all confidence in your own writing?

Write a post about my inability to write anything, I suppose.

It has been a real struggle for the last six months or so. It would be easy to blame Covid and lockdowns, and they might have played their part, but it goes deeper than that. I could blame some health issues I have, but that’s not the whole story. Every time I sit down to write, I feel stale and uninspired. Even when I have a day that seems to go well, when I read back what I have written later it seems contrived or forced. Uninteresting. I feel I have nothing worth saying; nothing anyone else would want to read.

I try to paint. I have ideas I want to try out, but it just won’t come. No sooner do I pick up a brush or a pencil than I feel I can’t be bothered with it all.

I know what part of the problem is: I want to go travelling. Travelling has always given me the opportunity to press the reset. I travel light. I write. Whether I go on a long walk or a trek, or just visit a place, it gives me the chance to reconnect with the world around me.

I was out for a walk this morning. Autumn has been here for a good six weeks or more, but it isn’t progressing very rapidly yet. Clearly, it is in no hurry. Although there are plenty of berries on the trees, the leaves seem reluctant to turn or to fall. On the other side of the wood I could see the hills towards the south, bluey-green in the distance. I always find this view really evocative, and it makes me want to grab my rucksack and disappear off for a few weeks. And that immediately makes me think of mountains. In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo says to Gandalf: ‘I want to see mountains again, Gandalf – mountains‘. He feels stale and tired of the familiar environment where he lives. (There’s more to it than just that in Bilbo’s case, of course.)

Well, that’s me.

Somewhere like this, perhaps!

Perhaps I’ll have a go at writing a few travel posts again. It has been quite a while since the last one. And before that I might re-post one or two of my earlier ones. Just to set the scene, as it were.

This way!

42 thoughts on “What To Do?

  1. Hi Mick. I’m sorry you’re feeling so ‘stuck’ at the moment. I know that feeling only too well as I’ve been stuck in a rut of not feeling or being very inspired for nearly three years now! I do keep trying from time to time, but alas, nothing materialises at all. It’s all very frustrating, isn’t it?

    I do love your photography – you certainly do have some lovely views where you are (and on your travels too, of course). I particularly like the photo of the footpath (entitled ‘This way’). Is that near you?

    Hope inspiration strikes for you soon, and in the meantime, try not to be too hard on yourself. Ellie xx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Ellie. Thank you for your comments – as always! It’s always good to hear from you.

      It’s very frustrating, certainly, but I think I’m beginning to feel my way out of it. It was on this morning’s walk that I realised how much my desire to travel again was affecting me. Having altered the focus of my reading and writing quite a bit over the last year or so (‘reinventing myself’, so to speak), I feel I’m attempting to write things that don’t come naturally to me, while deliberately overlooking those that do. For that reason, I’m going to re-write a couple of my earlier travel posts and then write some new ones. And having made that decision, I feel strongly it’s the right one; I feel much more optimistic.

      But three years is a long time, Ellie. I don’t know whether the same idea might work for you? Revisit some of your favourite writing and re-work it? I wish I could come up with an answer, but I can only sympathise and send you best wishes.

      The footpath? A couple of miles away. It’s a neat sign! Perhaps we all need some clear guidance like that at times!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi Mick, I know exactly how you feel. My discontent and irritation is more with my everyday job which seems to be the same day after day after 18 months of working from home. You need a change. Couldn’t you go somewhere interesting in the UK for a few days. I have a list of places I want to visit in the UK as long as my body.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Robbie. The everyday job point is an interesting one, as I’ve been wondering whether any of this staleness and stuckness might be a consequence of my retirement. I always said I would never be bored when I retired, that I would always have something to do, and that’s true. I’ve loads of things, including the writing and painting. But I wondered whether the lack of structure that work forces upon one might affect me.

      But I don’t think it’s that. I’ve always made my own structure when I write. I know that wasn’t your point, that it is your job that is the source of dissatisfaction, but I’m guessing (and tell me if I’m wrong!) that your writing is actually a relief from that structure.

      Yes, I need a change. We are going away for a few days, which will certainly help, but I’m dreaming now of long trips to Nepal, or Europe; real adventures. And they won’t happen anytime soon. But just having identified what I think is the main problem makes me feel a lot better and gives me hope I can get on top of it soon.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi Mick, I’m glad you’ve made plans for a short trip away. I have done a few short local trips over the past 18 months and we’ve visited some excellent places, but I too long for the bigger change of an overseas trip. We have restless spirits, you and I. My writing follows its own routine and structure but it is more flexible than work. I think working from home day after day, facing the same issues and frustrations which seem compounded by working from home i.e. trying to explain a complex structure on-line seems to take three times longer than if you get in a room together and discuss it, is just wearing and monotonous. I plan to start going into the office once a week from this week to see if that helps. Have a good week, Mick.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Robbie. In the case of working from home, when it’s not something you did before the pandemic, there might be a bit of an issue over workspace and home environment clashing. My wife was still working for the first six months of the pandemic and had to work from home, and she said it was really essential to keep the two apart. She wouldn’t, for example, work on the living room sofa because that was where we relaxed. It was almost as if it might get contaminated.

          Hope that works out okay for you.

          Yes, a long trip would be good. Maybe next year!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think it’s a wise decision not to “contaminate” the sofa (nice image) with work energy.
            Your post was a nice read, so I think that more musings on this topic would be welcome.
            Perhaps focusing on the actual stuckness may be just as interesting right now as getting unstuck 😛
            I’m also fascinated with the topic of boredom and the things that sometimes go with it – addiction, depression, etc., but sometimes also inspiration and new beginnings. That was one of the most interesting themes in Elementary (Johnny Lee Miller’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes).

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I do rather feel I’ve had to focus on the stuckness for a bit too long, now! Rather it’s been a case of drawing back and trying to see the bigger picture, looking for something a bit out of kilter at the moment. That brought me to travel.

              And boredom? What’s that…?

              Like

    1. I think it’s more a case of returning to genres I’ve been most comfortable with in the past. I’m not very good at those exercises that get you to write pieces in genres you wouldn’t ordinarily read or write, because there’s a good reason I don’t go there: I don’t like them.

      And by extension, I miss not writing the things I’m best at (or so I think, anyway!).

      Should I get out of my comfort zone? Supposedly, yes. But I don’t think now is the time. I’m going to rework a few familiar ideas and see what happens.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Same here! Just a short trip, soon, but hopefully something bigger before too long.

      I’m good at travelling in my memories, too, which is one reason I’ve put up so many travel posts in the past. I shall return there for a while, if only for my own peace of mind.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I feel for you Mick. I have no foolproof way out but perhaps a suggestion. Thy not try to write something different. You have travelled and know the way of walking. During your time you must have observed many comedic moments, many of those strange moments when two people first meet, especially when one of them is the local law, many of those face down in the dinner awkward moments. Why not your own mini Lord of thee Rings comedy. I never got to write my third Barsetshire Diary book to complete a story or my second much fun (for me) Queen’s Envoy book and I shall forever regret this. But you could bring a freshness to humour because of your memories, though the change of genre might test you at first.
    Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s an interesting idea, David.

      I’ve had one go at writing a humorous book, which is still unfinished although I return to it every now and again and do a little more. This one, though, is set in Tudor times and features a street-wise thief-taker set in a town I used to live in, although under a (rather obvious) pseudonym.

      I don’t know about doing that with travel writing. I’ve written a few blog posts on that line (including, by coincidence, my own take on the Lord of the Rings), but doubt my ability to sustain that even for the length of a short book. Perhaps also because a lot of the memorable events I’ve already worked into stories or poems, and lots of the others would seem a little bit insensitive to poke fun at.

      But I do think that I need to return to travel writing in some form, if only to put up some more blog posts. Part of my inability to write this year has extended to blog posts, so that would be a good place to start.

      Hugs, as always, back!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That sounds good Mick an then I can perhaps get you to ghost write my two to a finish so I never have to worry about writing ever again. On the other hand I hope you get whatever it is you want and make us all the richer for it. Be it the completion if your humorous book or travel so you can add to your experiences.
        Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks, David. I think the ghost writing may have to wait for a while…

          …but I’m sure something will come out of all this. It’s a new day, today, and I still feel my intention to revisit and re-write a couple of posts, then put up one or two new travel ones is the right one.

          Hugs back!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. You certainly aren’t alone. There are murmurings all around the sites I visit, ranging from mild irritation to frustration to what’s-it-all-about-Alfie moanings. In fact, I’m going to address it on my blog — just as soon as I can bestir myself!

    In the past, I have found returning to an old post is a good tonic. After all: we listen to the same favorite music repeatedly, we’re more than willing to watch a movie twice, and favorite books are read and re-read. Why should the same not be true with the writings of the bloggers we enjoy?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, that’s very well put. Returning to an old post that felt as though it came out well is going back into a comfort zone; a place where we know we felt confidence. A good place to start.

      We’ll see how that goes!

      Like

  5. I have gone through similar fallow times. They are discouraging, but they always seem to pass, and sometimes the passage brings new inspiration or new insights. I wish I had advice to offer, but only that I have learned to trust that something is readying for me, and I believe that it is for you, too, Mick. Hope you can do some of that traveling you’re yearning for.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. One lovely thing, rather two that i observed here Mick were, first of all your sharing this post was a trigger, and second you actually know what to do and even how to do it, going by reading your comments on other readers views.

    You see, a pond will stink if it won’t run, share, pass it over to fill itself more. And so are we. I guess, walk as much, see people in parks in diff surroundings, it shall refuel but not entirely reading anything. See well, more, deeply even within. 🙂

    It is an important subject certainly
    Narayan x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Narayan. Yes, for any writer it’s a huge thing, this mixture of writer’s block and confidence issues. In my case, I feel sure that returning to writing I feel was successful, about places I have been happy, is a way to regain some confidence and, certainly, some interest in writing again.

      No guarantees, but I feel better about the writing now than I have for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ll add my voice to the chorus: I know what you mean.

    In my case, the lack of confidence in my writing, leads to “stinking thinking” about self worth. I wonder, “Am I the only one who finds this interesting? Am I boring everyone else? Hell, I’m beginning to bore myself!”

    Not good.

    From reading the comments and your replies, it sounds as if you have found a pathway out of the dark. Follow those urges. Explore. Learn. Share.

    Best wishes!

    Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Maggie. I’m sure it’s something that happens to lots of us at times, although when it does it always feels as though you’re the only one who ever experiences it.

      Maybe it goes with the territory?

      I think I know the way out – my way out – certainly at the moment. I’m rehashing an old post which I’ll put up in a day or so, and then we’ll see how that goes.

      Hope you’re doing okay at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I suspect at least part of your problem, Mick, is the general malaise felt by all thinking people at present. We are living through a time of enormous change, much of it not good. Governments are generally letting down their people, the environment is changing for the worse, wildlife is under threat, rumblings of war continue to underlie our daily lives. Depression. It’s becoming a widespread issue. Perhaps all we can do to emerge from this cauldron of problematic issues is to create. It’s what we do. Even if the result fails to satisfy, the process is often cathartic and can start a return to optimism and fulfilment.
    Good luck with your future ventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Stuart. That may well be another factor. It certainly influences me at times. Whatever the balance of factors, though, I think I need to revisit some earlier posts then put up one or two new travel ones. I’ve always enjoyed those.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This pandemic has dragged on so long that I think it’s created a real weariness in us, a weariness that we’ve gotten so used to, we don’t see it for what it is. I long to travel, too – it keeps me going. The ideas have kept coming during the last year or so in spite of the lack of inspiration from travel so that’s lucky, but there is a kind of ongoing malaise that has taken root. It seems o be a long cycle! I hope things start to look up for you, one way or another. Maybe you can tweak those earlier travel posts – breathe some new life into them – and keep the creative ideas alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has dragged on, hasn’t it? That’s a part of it, I’m sure, although certainly not the whole story in my case.

      Yes, I’ll tweak a couple of earlier travel posts, and I’ve one new one to write. Hopefully that may lead to some more creativity, although I still feel quite negative about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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