Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fall Burn Out: Uninspired Writing

I'm stuck. I don't have writer's block, but I am suffering from some pretty uninspiring writing. I volunteered to do a guest post on a pop-culture subject that I am (or at least I was) pretty excited about. And then, I sat down to write the thing. The words came, but once I got about three-quarters through, I stopped, re-read it, and hated it. It wasn't bad; it was coherent, followed the rules of standard written English, and communicated what I had intended it to say. But it was so...boring. 

I don't know what to do. It's due tomorrow and I want to send them something. But I also would like them to accept guest posts from me again in the future. Will a boring (seriously, this thing is so dry) post be worse than no post at all? Or, should I just chuck it, start again, and send off whatever I come up with (which, I have to admit, will have to be better than what I've already written). But what if it isn't? What if it's worse?

The timing of this guest post couldn't be worse. After a summer of writing, I am a week into classes starting, meaning I am absolutely exhausted. I had forgotten just how physically and mentally demanding teaching five classes (three preps) can be. Add to that the fact that I am trying to completely and radically reimagine one of my courses, well, it's not the best time for inspiring prose, even about a subject that I am excited to be writing about on a platform I am thrilled to be (potentially) a part of. 

This is rare for me, the inability to write and write halfway decently. This summer, starting in May, I've written 43 posts for this site, 11 posts for Chasing Laferrière, 5 University of Venus posts, 3 academic essays, 2 book proposals (one of them based off of my dissertation, one on my next project), and...I think that's it. This is the most writing I've done and longest sustained writing period I've had since I finished my dissertation days before my first-born showed up. So, maybe I should give myself a break if I'm a little burnt out. 

I have one more day this week of my peer-driven classes, and perhaps after I get that done, I'll be able to take a deep breath and try to write this piece again. But, I don't think I'll be doing much writing this fall (save for here and for UVenus). And, you know what? I'm really, really ok with that. I think I've earned a little break.  


  1. Get it out of the system, send it off, wait for feedback, let someone else read it and think of it as draft...

  2. Writing problems are usually task specific. Your blog is a good example: you couldn't write satisfactorily about a specific topic for a guest post, but you did write a very good piece about your frustration. Try writing about why you can't satisfy yourself with the specific topic. That may lead you into handling the topic in a way that pleases you.

    I recently did a piece about my own writing problems:

    Henry Adams

  3. Definitely sounds like you need to take a step back, reassess what's at work here and then figure out the next step.

    It happens to all of us. I know that I've finished up an invited piece, looked at it and gone 'WTF did I just write here?" If the requester has a somewhat open timeline, I'd tell them that you have a complete draft but it is too dry so you want another kick at the can and can they give you another week?

  4. Another thought: You don't like the piece you described, but perhaps readers would. Your writing always seems lively to me. Your pieces project an engaging personality that a reader would like to meet in person. Perhaps the piece would do quite well, and you just don't realize it.

    I'm never a good judge of how readers will respond to my own work.


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