The Writer’s Funk

Sometimes all of us, writers included, get in a state of being that’s been called many things.

Some call it a funk.

Others call it the valley of dry bones. Or the valley of the shadow of death. Recently, one blogger called the dark night of the soul.

In baseball, it’s called a slump where the batter goes for days and even weeks without getting a hit. He’s using the same stance and the same swing, but every ball he hits goes directly into someone’s glove. Unless he strikes out. Then he takes that long, lonely walk back to the dugout.

So what is this funk of darkness?

It’s when the writing is hard. The words are dry and uninspiring. We type them on the screen, but they have all the excitement of dead grass. The characters are all mopey and can’t—or won’t—move on in the story.

Even our story ideas have all the zing of stale saltine crackers.

The funk has many sources. Sometimes ideas dry up and flutter away. Sometimes assignments don’t come through. Or a submission we were really hopeful about gets rejected.

And doubts increase. Have I lost the ability to write? Why keep doing this? Is it time to give up and move on? Does Walmart need more greeters?

The underlying source of the funk?

Fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of admitting I was wrong. Fear I misheard God.

Fear of change. Maybe God is calling me into something else. Maybe this season of writing is coming to an end. Can I give up something I’ve come to love? Something from which I draw a sense of purpose, a sense of who I am? He’s brought through times of change before. They weren’t always easy, but the journey was well worth it.

Then comes the fear of what’s next.

So what do I do?

I keep writing. That’s the last thing I clearly heard from him.

And I wait. I’ve learned there are no short cuts in a life of faith. I carve out times for meditation and fellowship with him. I shut up and use the silence to reconnect and recharge. To hear from him. To build up my spirit to be ready to do what he tells me to do.

And I won’t fret over how long the stillness lasts. I will stay where I am until God tells me its time to move.

He has a calling and purpose on my life. I’ll do what I can. The rest is up to him.

What do you do when you get in one of these funks?

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