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Random Thoughts: The Slump

I’ve written about reader’s block and reviewer’s block. But sometimes it isn’t a matter of not being in the mood right now or being in a place of fear. Sometimes it’s about being in a slump. A slump, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “a period during which a person performs slowly, inefficiently, or ineffectively…” or “a period of decline or deterioration.”

And during these periods of inefficiency and decline, the motivation for picking up those books, writing those posts, keeping up with the social has gone away. There is no feeling of passion and excitement to get lost in those stories. There is no feeling of creativity or interest in writing, formatting and crafting those posts.

When cracking the spine of an anticipated read, opening your blog’s dashboard to keep up with those daily posts and responding to the numerous Tweets, messages and emails seems not worth the bother, it may be that you’re in a slump. If it’s ennui and not excitement that you’re feeling, it may be time to take a break. Because sometimes the only thing that can get you out of a slump is time.

Slumps don’t typically have the quick fix that blocks can sometimes have. While blocks can be more permanent, many times they can be short-lived whereas slumps, by their definition, involve a period of time. You generally don’t find yourself in a slump, recognize it, and then find it has miraculously disappeared. When you’re in a slump it can last days, weeks, months or even longer.

It’s hard to work your way out of a slump. When it’s a block, it can often be fixed by a change of scenery, a different story to read or write about, a distraction. But when you’re in a slump a distraction is usually not enough to bring you out of it, setting aside the book you’re reading in favor or a new one won’t be sufficient, and hiding from the world of the social may actually make the slump last longer.

So, when a night of television isn’t enough to make that slump go away, when reducing the number of weekly posts on the blog doesn’t do the trick and when avoiding all email, Tweets, DMs, PMs and blog and Facebook comments only puts you in more of a slump, what are your options? I know of only two….

Take a Break

You can always take a break. But set a time. When you’re in a slump, a funk or a malaise, an intended short break can extend to a permanent one. Even if that was never what you thought would happen in the first place. If you decide on a week, then come back to it in a week. If you’re still feeling like you’re slumping then maybe a longer hiatus or a permanent one is really what you need. But before you throw in the towel, give yourself another week. Or make it a month. But make yourself come back and test your motivation then.

Maybe you have fallen out of love with blogging and need to fall back in love with reading to get that passion back. Maybe just knowing that you’re reading just to read is enough to bring the love back. Maybe a few reads without the guilt of not having a review can begin to break you out of that slump. Or maybe you’ll discover that you want to return to reading just for the love of it and that the work you’ve been putting into reviewing isn’t giving you enough of a reward. But you won’t know how you really feel if you give up too early.

Sometimes just tricking yourself into thinking you’ve given it all up can bring back that fire. When thinking about what your days would be like without those who share your passion obsession for books, you might come to the realize just how lonely your days would be without the chatter. When imagining not creating something just for you that gives you a feeling of accomplishment, you may decide that you couldn’t possibly exist without that sense of fulfillment that blogging brings to you. When stepping away, you may find that the void left behind is too great not to be filled with something… and what you want it to be filled with are books, authors, the bookish community and work.

Or you might just find that you miss the quiet and solitude you once had prior to starting a book blog and realize that’s the existence you long to return to.

Work Through It

Another option to try to get yourself out of a slump is to just work through it. Sometimes just making yourself do something can help to get you past a hurdle. While reading books and writing reviews may require more of an emotional connection than you are capable of when in a slump, participate in a meme, post a favorite cover, find a trailer you love or hate and discuss it. Just post something.

While it may feel like a chore right now, it might not always feel that way. It didn’t feel that way before, so that feeling doesn’t have to be a permanent one. Keeping the content on your blog fresh is an accomplishment even if you don’t feel rewarded by it. Just think, if you do eventually come out of your slump you can look back on all the effort you put in while slumping and be that much more encouraged for the future. You can say, “Hey, I did all that! Look what I accomplished when I was at an all-time blogging low, imagine what I am capable of doing now!”

Keep up the momentum and at some point there may just be a transition between being in that slump and being back in the game.

Parting Words

Whether you decide to take a break or just motor through, slumps aren’t fun. But know that you most definitely are not alone. Everyone goes through them at one time or another and chances are someone is going through one right now. I’m sure if you send out a Tweet mentioning you’re in a slump you will get an immediate response back from someone in the very same boat. And maybe that someone will be me.

What About You?

Have you been in a reading, reviewing or blogging slump before? Are you in one now? How long did it last? And how did you get past it? Did you take a break, work through it or did you find another way get out of it?

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[This random thought came to me after hearing that a few blogger friends of mine are currently going through slumps of their own. I would give them all credit here, but as I’m not sure they’d want to be called out on it I will just leave them anonymous and send them all my support.]

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