Lying fallow

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jdroth
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Lying fallow

Postby jdroth » Thu May 03, 2007 4:34 pm

Does anyone else experience "fallow" periods? In general, I think I'm a positive, productive guy. I'm creative, and I get a charge out of writing. There are periods (like last Monday, the 23rd of April) where I'm a positive dynamo. On that day, I churned out a week of weblog entries for <i>all</i> my sites. The problem? Since then, I've been in a non-productive mode. It's not really that I have writer's block. That feels different. Instead, I just feel like there's nothing there to tap. It's a struggle to come up with entries for any of my sites! (If there are not posts this weekend at GRS, you know why...)

How do you cope with these fallow periods? Mostly I've begun to accept that they come and go. There are times where I'm productive, and there are times when I'm not. I wish every day could be productive, but my mood changes.

The hilarious thing (to me) is that my attitude can change in an instant. I've seen it happen so many times. I'll go through a dull stretch like this, and then something will trigger inside me and I'll churn out three or four fantastic pieces in an evening. It's nice to know this, because now I don't worry that the well has run dry. I know that in time there'll be more there to draw upon.

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Postby brad » Thu May 03, 2007 5:29 pm

Fallow periods are normal and healthy, I think, and help prevent burnout. You need to take time to "take in" as well as "put out." If you're always putting out and don't leave time to take in, you end up with nothing to say and no inspiration.

You can observe this pattern with professional musicians, especially singer-songwriters. When I lived near Boston in the 1980s I watched the careers of Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin, John Gorka, Suzanne Vega, and Nanci Griffith develop from the start. (Tracy Chapman started out as a street singer; I used to hang out on the street in Harvard Square to listen to her. John Gorka was an opening act for Nanci Griffith, and eventually people started going to her concerts so they could hear him first) Their first albums were big hits, because they had spent years living, writing, revising, throwing out the bad, keeping and improving the good, and so on. But once they had record contracts and had to churn out albums year after year, the quality of their material (mostly) went down. They didn't have time to live life and build up material between albums. Many novelists have the same problem, with the exception of Joyce Carol Oates, I don't know how she writes so many books without burning out.

One of the reasons I've never wanted to have a blog of my own is because I need time to live, digest things, and think them over before I write about them. If I had a blog I'd probably only have one entry every two or three months. It's easier for me to just leave comments on other people's blogs ;-)

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Postby RJ » Thu May 03, 2007 6:28 pm

Yes, sometimes I get a little burned out or otherwise uninspired....like now, at the end of the semester! Sometimes it's okay to take a day or a few and recoup, have an experience, and then report back on it and mine it for the lessons it can impart. A good way to do this is just to do something very different, perhaps even low on the tech scale and low on the financial applicability scale. My way of fighting weariness and burnout at semester's end is to exercise a little more, take walks outdoors, forge ahead on a neglected project, and cook! Tonight's treat was pan-fried trout! Maybe I can get through final exams, after all....

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Postby jdroth » Thu May 03, 2007 7:12 pm

once they had record contracts and had to churn out albums year after year, the quality of their material (mostly) went down


I think it was Suzanne Vega's <i>fourth</i> album, though, that I think is absolutely amazing. A wonderful piece of work. <i>Nine Objects of Desire</i>, I think it's called. A perrennial favorite.

RJ, our ideas for coping with burnout make a lot of sense, and I've found what you say to be true. The last time I felt uninspired, I was completely re-invigorated by a night of roller-skating, of all things. It was one of the true highlights of my life, this conversion from a state of mental agitation to a physical catharsis. Exhilerating.

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Postby sandycheeks » Fri May 04, 2007 5:40 am

Yep, we all go through it in one way or another. Luckily for me, I don't have people checking in on me daily, like with a blog, so no one really notices but me.

One thing I'd suggest for the blogs, if there is no new material, just link to other interesting things. I get bummed when I see several bloggers writing about the same topic on the same day or few days. Perhaps unfairly, I assume they didn't have much to say on their own and just bit off someone else's topic. I'd rather read a link than a warmed over version of someone elses stuff. I don't think I've noticed you do this, but I've noticed it elsewhere and it's sort of irritating.

oasn: roller skating is great fun. Did they play roller skating music. You know what I'm talking about. Couples only = Air Supply. Ice skating in the summer is also a good pick-me-up.

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Postby plonkee » Fri May 04, 2007 5:51 am

I find that I lack energy / inclination to write after having written what I think is a really good post. I don't know whether the solution is to go with the flow, or make myself write daily. At the moment I do a bit of both, but the stack of previously written posts is starting to dry up and I could do with a really creative period.

I think its certainly the case that you need plenty of space to be in order to have the desire to create.
In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them. John von Neumann

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Postby tinyhands » Fri May 04, 2007 9:03 am

sandycheeks wrote:Luckily for me, I don't have people checking in on me daily, like with a blog, so no one really notices but me.

Fortunately the readers of my personal blog have low expectations of me to begin with. :)
Read my 'fiscal fitness' financial disclosures <a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=176">here</a>.

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Postby jdroth » Sun May 06, 2007 11:12 am

Good news, at least for me: my fallow period seems to be over. I'm now bursting with ideas, and the trouble is actually getting them all down. It's strange how these things go in boom-or-bust cycles...

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Postby consultantjournal » Sun May 06, 2007 3:29 pm

Take a breather when you can't think of topics. When you're full of energy, comes up with ideas for series of posts and sub-branches of those. That's what works for me. In the past month, I have not only written content for the present but I've written content up till August 1st, plus weekly posts through to the end of November. This is because I am planning a maternity leave for the fall and I want to get way ahead. (I'll still be posting some fresh material, but some things are timeless.) So I'm currently writing 1-2 weeks of material at a time, on top of my other consulting work. If I didn't come up with topics in advance, I'd really be struggling. On the days where I can't think of anything, I take a break.
Andrea Coutu
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