Rekindling the fire

San Franny Rubber Duck

Experiencing a temporary happy flight delay

Self Doubt has been kicking my butt lately. My imagination has been running wild. My self-discipline has been nothing short of laughable, and I’ve had the attention span of a flea’s flat behind — microscopic and I can’t really tell where it is.

My mission on this blog is to be uplifting and positive. To nurture creativity and help others do the same. To plant rainbows, raise unicorns and turn storm clouds into cotton candy.

Hard to do when my cheerful outlook goes in the pooper.

Curling up in the fetal position would be easy. Comfy, even, with the right blankets. But that wouldn’t be productive. I could vent. But that would be counterproductive and the opposite of my mission to be uplifting.

Instead, I’m going to share my self-evaluation. What’s working, what’s not. Where I’ve derailed, where I’m still on track.

Most importantly, I’m going to share the changes and what’s helping me make them. Resources, projects, lifestyle changes, links, quotes, articles, books —stuff you can use, too.

First, let’s start with some subtle yet telltale signs of a poopy outlook.

You start saying “Good enough” before sending out almost every project. Expecting perfection is ridiculous but if “good enough” has become your measuring stick for success, it might be a sign that your give-a-damn needs adjusting.

You start dressing down more than usual. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been wondering just how casual I can dress without getting in trouble at work. And how little makeup I can get away with before I’m mistaken for having the flu. I even almost went to the grocery store in my Tinker Bell pajama pants.

You’re bored all the time, even when you’re doing something that requires your full attention. As in, when you hear “surf the Web and find cool stuff to post to Pinterest,” your inner voice responds with “zzzzzzzz….” So far I’ve found contentment in Legos, but I need to get back in the game. Time to re-engage. Fully.

You don’t worry if you can’t think of anything to write. This is a bit different from writer’s block in that writer’s block is frustrating. You want to write but when you have nothing to put down, you want to screaming from the room. Giving up with a second thought about it? Not good.

You start reading other people’s articles about overcoming fear, motivation and productivity, and you realize just how far off the mark you’ve wandered.

Publishing this post is my first step to getting back on track. Part of me doesn’t want to publish this precisely because it’ll make me accountable, but another part of my mission here is to be authentic. Genuine. Honest.

This is where I’m at right now. It’s temporary. It’s fixable. And I’m going to fix it. Starting with my workspace, coming up in my next post, Reclaiming your writer’s space.

How’s your outlook holding up? Share in the comments.

27 thoughts on “Rekindling the fire

  1. I’ve been there, Erica. It’s tough when I fall out of my natural work rhythm. For me, this feeling usually stems from being overwhelmed and overworked. I take a hard look at my to-do list and slash whatever isn’t essential for the week.

    • Thank you for the support. I’m definitely feeling a bit overwhelmed. Good idea to take a hard look at my to-do list. Thanks for the reminder.

      Must be another sign: Your common sense runs for its life and you no longer recognize obvious solutions. 🙂

  2. Oh, I soooo relate! I’ve not written a post for, let’s see, oh yes: my birthday (June 12). Instead, I’ve filled up my days with not being home (or sleeping when I am there), or learning new crafts. I had the headlines of several posts lined up – but they aren’t written yet, and some are now dated. So, I do understand. But, you’ve taken the first step: you’ve noticed that you’re not writing and your underlying feelings about it. Go on to the next step, Ducky. I know you can do it!

    • Thank you for the encouragement. And a Happy Belated Birthday!

      “I had the headlines of several posts lined up – but they aren’t written yet, and some are now dated.” Yup, me too. But we can do this. We just have to get our tails in gear. 🙂

  3. It seems like a positive outlook is a muscle that I’m exercising regularly, and I see improvement, but as with any muscle, I have those days when it’s just exhausting. I do have faith, though, that it’ll keep getting stronger. We’re hardwired to focus on the negative, but I’m training myself to simply acknowledge the negative while focusing on the positive. I look forward to borrowing some of your strategies for coping.

    • It’s true — we are hardwired to take in the negative. Good for you for actively keeping up the positive. I like your strategy of simply acknowledging the negative but not giving it the spotlight. Am tucking that in the repertoire.

  4. Hi Erica, I know where you are right now. I’m frequently there. In my years of writing, I think it’s imminent. What with all the mind-bending calisthenics we do all the time. Our brains naturally long for rest. You know what I do when I succumb to this state?

    I go buy popcorn, double jumbo, [is there such a thing?:)] and soak myself in cinematic bliss.

    There’s no use worrying over–that you can’t write a word, you’re just wasting time. Might as well spent it where creative batteries can be recharged.

    After each trip to the movie house, I come back with fresh creative juices. Then, I can make art… again.

    I like your style. Go take your place under the writing sun.:)

    • Hi Anthony, welcome to Rubber Ducky Copywriter! I love your idea (and phrasing) of soaking in cinematic bliss. In fact, I’m probably long-overdue for a LOTR and crafting marathon. And if I find any double jumbo popcorn, I’ll let you know.

      P.S. Thank you for the compliment. Pretty nice writing style, yourself. 🙂

      • Wow! — it has been THREE years! I still remember the feeling of discovering your site. It gave a warm feeling. I want you to know — I still feel the same. And the reason I’m sharing my thoughts is that I remembered you suddenly while working.

        Call me a bit weird, that’s Ok. I experience this many times, and there’s always a good reason why. I’m not sure this time, but I know there’s a reason for it happening like I know the sun rises tomorrow no matter what. 🙂

        How are you Erica?

        • Hi Anthony, good to hear from you. Thank you so much for sticking around this whole time. I greatly appreciate that you keeping coming back. Also: weird is good. Weird helps the world go ’round. And makes it more interesting.

  5. I’ve been there too. Something that has worked for me: focus on the urgent things on your list of priorities. One to three things that you know need attention. Leave the rest for later. And while you’re working on those “do or die” items, make sure to take time out for yourself. A special pedi or afternoon at the spa, dinner at your favourite spot, a picnic with a good book. Small treats to take your mind off the negatives.
    Freelancing is tough and these low periods are part of the package. But as you already said, writing this post is the start of your rebound.

    • You’re right. Narrowing it down to one to three is a great idea. And you’re right about taking time for myself. Haven’t been doing much of that lately. Will schedule a manicure today. Thanks. 🙂

  6. Here’s one for you Erica

    I couldn’t help but notice your closing sentence ‘Starting with my workspace, coming up in my next post’.

    Well, when your next post goes live, don’t forget to return to this post and put a link to the new one against the anchor text ‘next post’.

    Those people who find themselves on this post will naturally click on the link at the end to read the next instalment. I know I would and I’m sure others would too.

    Doing this is also great for your internal link structure. But I don’t want to go on too much about the SEO aspects, as life’s boring enough as it is (as you’ve mentioned above).

    • Thanks for the tip, Kevin. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ve gotten pretty lax about building my internal links; something else I need to pick back up on again. I’ll definitely stop by your blog to pick up some more tips. You’re pretty good at that sort of thing.

  7. LOL My new site debuted July 1st and there is ONE new post on there. One. LOL. Thankfully, I have another one I’m *finally* working on and, yes, as you know, I have been sending fairly regular e-mail updates. But it’s not enough.

    Don’t forget – you are planning a wedding, and sometimes other things fall by the wayside. It’s temporary, it’s normal, BIG HUGS!!

  8. I posted about something very similar to this today. I made goals for myself at the beginning of the year and realized that they were far more involved than I guessed. I found myself overwhelmed by…well everything. My post ‘Are Your Goals Overwhelming You?’ might have an idea or two you could use. Good luck getting back on track. I’ll be watching to see how you do it.

    • Hi Jillian, welcome to Rubber Ducky Copywriter! Amazing how we set ourselves up to be overwhelmed, isn’t it? I did the same thing earlier this year when I set my Writer’s Resolutions for 2013.

      I checked out your blog – great tips! I’m going to have to try out that Pomodoro technique. And writing my goals in a measurable, trackable way. Not something I think of when I set goals (too excited about the goal). Again, great ideas. Thanks!

      • Hi Erica, I’ll be watching to see what ideas you come up with for knocking down the wall named, Overwhelmed. I’m still looking for ideas to get me over, around, or under it. Through sounds possibly painful. You’re right, it is way too easy to find yourself banging your head on that wall. Thanks for sharing my post with your twitter followers. I love the rubber ducky logo 🙂 Well I’m off to do more goal *planning*, you know what I should have done the first time around. PS Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my first step.

  9. Hello Erica, I did read this when you posted it. I even read through the comments. I meant to come back later that day and comment, but I see I never did. What a Lame Duck! Did that make you smile? I hope you’re well on your way to getting over your slump. Thanks for reading and commenting and sharing my latest posts. Looking forward to your next post. If you want some tips on the work space or just want to laugh at how mine looked at the begining of the year look here. http://wp.me/p1sYP4-me

    • Hi Peter. Yes, that did make me smile, although I would never in a million years consider you a “lame duck.” 🙂

      Thanks for the link! I missed that post that post the first time around, but I’ve already taken some of your advice. I set a timer for 15 minutes and picked up a whole bunch of notes that can be recycled. My desk is still not perfect, but it’s better. Will do the same thing tonight. Again, thanks!

  10. Hey from Houston, Erica! I’ve been thinking about you lately so tracked you down – and so happy I did! What a wonderful site! Earlier this week I was working from home, couldn’t get motivated to edit a manual that’s needed for a shipment ASAP so made a deal with myself to work on it after going out for breakfast. When I got to the restaurant, I glanced down and realized I was pretty much in my pajamas. Shoes instead of slippers. Slip-ons, thankfully. Now to check on the next post for what happens next…Jessica

    • Hi there Jessica! Long time, no see. Good to hear from you and happy that you like my site. 🙂

      Almost in your jammies? Yup, been there. Of course, I wear bunny slippers so it would be rather noticeable…

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