Well, you can add my name to the list. I've been in that boat all year, and I'm just as clueless about my "meh"-ness as you are. It's as if the power has short-circuited in the creative part of my brain, and since I don't know which fuse has blown out, I can't fix it. Know what I mean? I just keep thinking, What gives, man?! I'm a writer. Words are supposed to just--ya know, appear--in my head, right? Right?
So. What to do? I've been thinking about it all week, and recently I came to an interesting conclusion. In my humble opinion, the act of writing is similar in many ways to a long-term relationship. The longer you do it, the easier it is to get into a routine, and although it's good to have some structure, too much can kill your Muse the same way it can kill a marriage. When that happens, some of the same suggestions relationship experts give to couples can help you regain your passion for writing. Bear with me; this analogy is a good one.
- Remember why you fell in love (with writing) in the first place. I'm reminded of the movie Brown Sugar, a romantic comedy starring Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan. The two of them play best friends who realize they're also soulmates, mainly due to their mutual love of Hip-hop music. Music plays an integral role during the ups and downs of their relationship, and in the end, it is what brings them back together after a falling-out. It should be that way for writers as well. Remember what it was like to fall in love with words--the power of that moment--and write about that feeling.
- Listen (to your inner writing voice). This idea applies primarily to your characters. You know that moment in the writing process when your characters seem to jump off the page? That's not you going crazy--it's the magic coming out. Listen to it, even when it doesn't make sense. More importantly, learn what your unique writing voice sounds like. We each have one, and even if it tells you to write something silly or impractical, do it anyway. Drowning it out with logic it is the first step toward permanent writer's block, and besides, you never know where that weird little voice might lead you.
- Try something new. Are you a stickler for composing at the computer? Try writing longhand for a few weeks. Work exclusively in your home office? Take a field trip to your nearest library or park. Sometimes a simple change of scenery or writing medium is all it takes to get the creative juices flowing again.
- Enjoy the little things. Like most careers, writing is a job that emphasizes the big accomplishments--publication, bestseller status, a three-book deal with a six-figure advance. We all want those things, but let's not forget about all of the wonderful little milestones we encounter along the way. Finishing a novel, for instance, is a remarkable achievement, and it's something millions of people will never do. Celebrating the little victories will keep you energized on your way to the big ones.
- It's about the journey, not the destination. It's easy for us writers to get so caught up in the goal of publication that we forget to enjoy the process of writing itself. We rush through everything, cranking out stories the way Kraft cranks out mediocre slices of cheese. Then, we wake up one day and find we've lost touch with our characters, themes and the voice that brings our stories to life. We may want to publish our work, but first and foremost, we are storytellers. As long as we remember that, our Muse--whatever form it takes--will never be far away.