Writing–Everything is Flat

English: Sprite cans from China. From left to ...

I go through periods in which I think everything is flat. Like Sprite that’s lost its fizz, my ideas, my stories, my everything has no life.

If I get an idea during this period (and that’s a pretty big if), it’s not very good. It’s just a little sliver of something that could be good, but I feel no buzz for it, no drive to put it down on paper. It’s something, but it’s more like nothing.

Any words I put down on paper are lackluster. The stories have no sparkle. It all just lays there on the page, flat as a day old flounder on newspaper. The entire act of writing is just going through the motions. Sure the story gets written, but it’s nothing more than a yawn on paper.

If I’m doing story revisions/rewrites, I can nail all of the grammar and spelling problems, but I can’t fix the story. I’m not “inspired” enough to see what changes I need to make to best serve the story.

It’s a funny feeling, going through a flat phase like that. It’s like I’ve got nothing, not even fumes in the tank. I look around at every project I’ve got going and I feel absolutely overwhelmed by the boredom of it all. Nothing is good, nothing is interesting, nothing is exciting.

The thing about this feeling is that it’s all inside and has nothing to do with the work. The work doesn’t change, but my perception of it does. And there’s no real reason for my perception to change, it just does.

I suppose it’s like sailors hitting the doldrums. One day, they’re just sailing along. The next day, they’re going nowhere, everything is so calm and so still and so STATIONARY.

I realize I’m whipping out a lot of metaphors and similes to explain this feeling, but that’s only because I’m having trouble capturing it in words. It’s a hard feeling to explain, but you know if you’ve had it. It’s an unmistakable feeling of flatness.

I just went through another stretch of flatness. For a couple of weeks I looked at my white board, at my writing projects to do list, and thought, “meh”. When I looked at the board then, I saw nothing worth mentioning, just the same old routine.

Then one day I woke up and proceeded to go through the motions of writing and found that the flatness wasn’t there anymore. The bubbles came back and with them came ideas worth writing down and going through with. The words I put on the paper had a little more spice. The problems that plagued my stories suddenly had solutions that had been there the whole time, I’m sure.

When the flatness leaves, when it fills out to become something round and whole again, it’s like a rush of air into a balloon. Suddenly I’m very full of everything I’d been lacking for the days or weeks before. And it makes me wonder how I ever survived being flat, how I could ever bear that happening.

I guess it’s because I don’t know it’s happening. Like a balloon, it slowly leaks out. Like a soda left to sit, the bubbles slowly leave until there’s nothing left but flatness.

Thankfully, it’s only temporary.

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