Cures for the not-so-common Blah

I thought I’d be happy when I finished writing Innerscape. Hell, I thought I’d be ecstatic!

– No more getting up at dawn to squeeze in a few hours of writing before the working day began.

– No more dreaming of storylines – and yes, most mornings I wake feeling as if I’ve spent the whole night writing because that’s what my brain has been doing while the rest of me slept.

– No more hitting myself over the head when I can’t get the plot to work.

– No more worrying about not being able to write/finish – and yes, that is the counterpoint to this. 😦

In short, I really believed that once I wrote ‘The End’, I’d leap into real life again with gusto. Not so. In one of those feats of human contrariness, I’m facing the coming weeks of enforced rest* with trepidation. In fact, I feel blah.

For those unaware of the finer points of language, ‘blah’ is a technical term for not knowing what to do with oneself, and feeling miserable as a result. You must remember this :

Okay, the relevance of that video clip is a bit of stretch, but ‘you must remember’ how it felt when you were a teen, and the end of year exams were suddenly over? After all that furious studying there was suddenly – nothing. Part of you still felt as if you had things to do, urgent, important things, but the energy to do them had no outlet.

Well, I’m feeling much the same now, except that this misery is a kind of double-blah because unlike exams, I actually do enjoy writing.

I know the blah will fade as the habit fades, but the paradox is that I’m equally scared of that eventuality – I know what writer’s block feels like, and that misery is even worse than this one. So in an attempt to keep my hand in – without going back to Innerscape – I’ve decided to re-read the very first story I ever wrote. This mammoth, unfinished masterpiece -cough- took up two years of my life, and I still have a four drawer filing cabinet crammed full of research material.

A decade on, I’d like to think I’ll be pleasantly surprised but …I have a six-pack of tissues close at hand just in case. Remember, this is the story I wrote straight after my last technical manual. Yes, I thought you’d understand.

I fully expect to spend the next few days either crying or laughing hysterically. When I emerge, however, I’ll need some more coping mechanisms, so please share your cures for the blah in comments!

Thanks in advance,


*I think it was Stephen King who recommended throwing your newly finished manuscript into a drawer for six months before starting to edit. The idea is that time and distance from the story will allow you to see the manuscript with fresh eyes – i.e. see what you actually wrote instead of what you think you wrote. This technique does work, I know it does, but it’s hellishly hard to switch off from a story and characters that have consumed your life for months on end.



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

20 responses to “Cures for the not-so-common Blah

  • advokati beograd imenik

    I could nnot resist commenting. Very well written!


  • Stephanie Allen Crist

    The blah feeling is “normal” for me after finishing a major project. That’s one of the reasons I keep so many projects going concurrently–there’s always something new to pour my energies into. I give myself a day to feel the completion (and loss) of one project. But the next day there’s a new project.


    • acflory

      lol – I wish I had your self discipline. I last a week and a half before caving and going back to the story. The time away probably wasn’t long enough but I’m telling myself I’m only catching obvious plot holes and typos, then I’ll start sending out to betas. And THEN I really won’t be able to touch it for a while. πŸ™‚

      Luckily, I have had a new project thrust upon me so no will power needed there either. I’ve been asked to put together a proposal for some new classes to teach. Exciting but scary as well.



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  • EllaDee

    Have you got a To-Do list, of actual things to do, possible WIPs, etc… all those things left undone while you’ve been consumed?
    Fabulous though that you have completed this stage. Well Done πŸ™‚


    • acflory

      -giggles- Oh yes, I have a to-do list. Clean house, sweep off cobwebs, burnoff, do gardening, develop some absolute beginners classes, get fit again…. πŸ˜€

      I know I should do all these things but I can’t seem to get motivated. I’m giving myself till the end of the weekend to bludge, then I’ll get cracking. I hope. lol


  • dvberkom

    First of all, congrats on completing the book!!!! And secondly, don’t for one minute think you’re alone. I think all writers feel that way. When it hits, I find that working on the cover, the blurb, a marketing plan, blog posts, etc. all help ease me into “regular” life. That, and planning the next book πŸ˜€


    • acflory

      Funny you should say that, but I’m planning another blog post later this afternoon. πŸ™‚ I did try revisiting my very first sci-fi story, but reading it actually made me uncomfortable and …twitchy so I think I’ll stick to blog posts and maybe the cover design. I actually have this image in my head of what I would like to see on the cover but I have no idea how to make it happen. Maybe that is something I can research while I’m in limbo. πŸ™‚


  • anne54

    It must be an amazing experience to be so absorbed in a world of your own creation. I think I can understand how bereft you feel — is it like coming home from a long holiday where you have been out of your “real” world?


    • acflory

      Very astute – yes, when I’m in the throes of writing I have to be really careful when I drive because I’m not quite ‘all there’. Now I’m Alice returned from Wonderland and not liking it. Poor me hey? -slaps self-


  • George Panayiotou

    Will it help in writing short stories that have nothing to do with this manuscript?


  • davidprosser

    Welcome to blahland Meeks. It’s not quite 4.30 am on day 2 of my ‘holiday’ and I still can’t stay away from the computer’.And I thought this was going to be easy.No wonder you’re having a problem settling after all the writing, you’re keyed up. I’m hoping to finish my reading this week and you’ll know as I do.
    Sending you Massive Hugs xxx


  • laurieboris

    I get bluesy when I finish a manuscript, too. So, yes, I put it away and work on other things. The feelings are still there, but it’s a decent distraction.


  • Candy Korman

    I always suffer from post manuscript draft partum. The blues are natural because there’s a void left by the time (effort, energy, emotion, investment, intensity) left by working on the creation of the book.

    Best cure? Write a short story.


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