No one knows what it's like to be the sad man.

flowering sage

Actually, that’s a conceit: everyone knows what it’s like to be the sad man. If you’ve never known what it’s like, I think, clinically, you are manic and should seek help.

(Above is a picture of some flowering pineapple sage in my herb garden. It bears no relation to anything. Feel free to pay it no mind.)

In any case, I’m not really the sad (wo)man. Really: this is not a depressed or biopolar issue.  I’m just the tired, overwhelmed, lacking in inspiration right now woman.

So I’m asking you, blogger or not: what do you do to push through your periods of inertia? Take a break? Power through? Turn back to crystal meth? I love this blog but lately I feel like I’ve been forcing it, and that makes my voice inauthentic.  I don’t like that; presumably, you’ve come here in the first place because of my voice, so it’s less fun for you, and forcing it is less fun for me.

(Or you’re here because you Stumbled Upon me, and you don’t want to hear my whining. Sorry! You’ve got bad timing.)

But whatever. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this sometimes; we all hit a wall and misplace our mojo, be for it blogging or knitting or breeding Siamese cats or drag racing. Maybe I just need a nap, but in case that doesn’t do the trick give me (and everyone else searching for their mojo) a good shove. What do you do?

39 thoughts on “No one knows what it's like to be the sad man.

  1. When my knitting mojo takes a hike, I just turn around and go do something else… sometimes it’s another knitting project, and sometimes it’s absolutely no knitting at all. If it isn’t fun for me, I feel like I’m just infusing it with bad karma. I don’t have a blog, but in reading them, it seems that the bloggers do become tired and dispirited. And they excuse themselves and go away for a while, regroup and come back when they want to, when they’re ready. And their loyal followers are there when they return. And while I love reading your blog, I think it’s more important that you take care of you: put on your own oxygen mask first. And do what you need to do for you.

  2. You’ve seen me take breaks. Sometimes because I feel like there’s no time. Sometimes because I start getting away from cooking and food and the connections I make with them to do other things. What always seems to bring me back, forced hiatus or just lack on energy/voice, is a moment in real time when I recognize why I started writing in the first place, and that whatever is happening right then is something I’d rather not just keep as a memory for myself.

    I’m not sure there’s a strategy there, but a recognition that the lack of drive happens; and that I have always found it again because the underlying subject of cooking and the underpinning motivation of sharing my voice about it with others, never really went away.

    Like your favorite socks that just got pushed to the back corner of the drawer one time when you shoved the clean stuff in. They’re still there. And when you find them again, there’s not much of a struggle to remember why they were your favorite after all.

  3. When it comes to something fun and creative (like your blog is), I take a break until it feels fun and creative again.

    Maybe you need to be able to just bake some damn cookies for once without having to take pictures.

    It would be our loss not to hear from you as often – but this is your creation, and you have every right to do what you need to do in order to keep it worthwhile for you.

    Sometimes you need to use all of your energy to get to the shit you can’t take a break from (like work).

  4. I don’t blog, but I can relate to feeling like you’ve lost your mojo – sometimes life gets that way. I have a few of things I do: 1. just forget about whatever it is for a while. Put it away, walk away and do something else until you find yourself wanting to go back. 2. Call on your friends! I have a couple of good friends who don’t live near me but I know that I can call them and, even if I don’t tell them how I’m feeling at that moment, just talking to them will lift my spirits and will usually motivate me to get on with things. 3. Exercise. I can wake up with a cloud over my head, grump about putting on my running clothes, feel like @!*? the whole time I’m running, but when I get home and those endorphins kick in, all is right with the world again! It doesn’t work all the time, but probably 90% of the time.

    Hang in there – we’ll be here! We’ll miss you but we understand, though we’ll miss the live blogging of Top Chef. (Go Beardie!)

    So now I’m off the bake the cookies from Dorie’s book you blogged about Friday. I’ve had the book open on my counter for two days but now the butter is room temp and it’s time. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Guest bloggers, which makes you realize how many nice people are willing do some of the heavy lifting for you.

    Or just a note that says you need a break and that you’ll be back. Afterall, absence makes the heart grow fonder – for you and for your readers.

    Hang in there.

  6. Power through. Change stuff up a little to keep it fresh for you, though. Taking a break would mean the rest of us have to find something else to do. Do you want that on your conscience? Do you?

  7. heh, brian, i was actually leaning toward “power through.”

    everyone, thanks for the advice so far. i don’t (didn’t) think i want(ed) to take a break entirely, but i do want to figure out how to shake things up in my head. maybe it does mean a short break, or maybe i just need to figure out how to get into some different headspace or something.

    tortured syntax like the above is probably not the way to do it. then again, it might be.

    ramble on.

  8. When I get tired and overwhelmed, I tend to take mental vacations. I make a few big meals, bake cookies, or go out to eat. I take a day off from work and school to watch movies and go on a long walk. For a less time consuming option, I also love to lay on the floor by the window, especially if that window is open and there is a breeze flowing through. Looking up at the sky makes me feel better. Also, really any kind of physical activity (I love to swim). I went through a couple years where I felt the way you describe. It was rough. But, it didn’t last forever. Nothing does! Including these moody periods.

  9. I’m a long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Sounds like now’s about a good time to tell you that I love your blog, and it’s encouraged me on many a dark, Border-Cafe-eatin’ night. Wish I knew a way to blast you out of your doldrums like your blog has often blasted me out of mine. (Though I’m usually opposed to the word “blast” anywhere near food writing.) Your voice is so vibrant–do whatever it takes to get it back, even if it means us missing you for awhile.

  10. Sometimes I try to immerse myself in someone else’s creativity. Read a book, watch a great movie, hit the museum, splurge on a concert or a great meal. Often, it gets me inspired enough to get back on the horse.

  11. take it a day at a time. if you feel like writing, do it, and don’t worry about keeping up a particular style or facade for any of us. Just write what you feel like writing, and maybe it will be therapeutic. On the other hand, if you feel like saying “screw it” then “screw it”

    Personally, I don’t know if I can stand Top Chef without you, but I’ll just have to learn to power through if you’re not feeling it.

  12. I learned that about once a month or so, I need to lie in bed, like all day, and do nothing. No guilt, not worry, just absolute mindlessness. You just have to go with it and completely ignore all of your obligations because it feels really awesome to do so.

    Once I started just going with the abject slothiness of it all, and embracing it as a, “well shit, today’s the day where I don’t brush my hair and catch up on shitty Grey’s Anatomy” kind of day, life felt better.

  13. Guest bloggers are GO!

    I am here nearly every day and as long as it doesn’t just go away, I’m weathering blog changes as they come.

    Go play with the dogs!

  14. Champagne, karaoke, random wandering outdoor photography, and a few extra Welbutrin. That combo usually pushes me through after a few days of blah or fetal-ball-weeping syndrome.

    In extreme situations I do a marathon of black and white movies… Cary Grant or some Thin Man movies. Pick your 40’s actor/tress of choice :)

  15. A middle road is to ask less of yourself. If you’re stretched thin, worn out, overcommitted or otherwise short on resources, do less. If doing fewer posts would make you feel bad, try shorter posts and reruns and maybe a few posts with snippest from your greatest hits. On the days when you can’t face preparing and then blogging an entire meal, grab some leftovers and give us your favourite foodie quotation, another beautiful herb photograph, or a link to a droolworthy article elsewhere.

    Sometimes less is enough.

    You’ll still swear though, right?

  16. When I feel uninspired I take a trip, or if I don’t have days or weeks to spare, for the day I visit a town I like or never been to and walk around and look at the stores and shop. If you don’t like shopping you could get away for a day or a few hours and do something you enjoy.

    Like you mentioned, everyone gets times of uninspiration.
    If you need to take a break, go for it.

    But the most important thing I want to mention, is you are awesome. I love your style. It’s simply, you. You couldn’t try to bottle it, or duplicate it. My husband and I run to the computer after we watch Top Chef to read your play by play. It’s what really makes it for us. Someone saying exactly how we were feeling all the way through.

    So no matter what happens, please know how special and wonderful you are, and that you are providing us a gift with your blog. Thank you.

  17. take a f…ing break! love your blog, lots. But if you need a break – take it! you’ll come back bigger, stronger, better…. you get the point. take care and do what you do need to do. we’ll miss you and be glad when you return. the end.

  18. Sounds like it’s time to just do something for the sheer joy of doing it, not because you feel compelled to write about it in the blog. Take a break, spend time cooking things you just WANT to cook, with no consideration for the blog (unless the urge strikes you to share with us!), or maybe take some time to do something new with your camera. Maybe you’ll find a new creative outlet that takes you in a different direction.

    Of course, maybe I’m completely full of shit, and you really should just power through the slump; since my psychology degree came from a box of very stale Cracker Jacks, who knows!

  19. I power through, but that’s not to say that you should do that. Sometimes it helps to walk away and give yourself some time off. Don’t let blogging get in the way of living. Blog because you like to. I am totally hearing you on this, babe. xxoo

  20. Take a break and give yourself time to enjoy the things that bring you inner peace and happiness. You need to make time for just you. If that means taking a break from blogging, then so be it. You have to take care of YOU, first and foremost.

  21. I share your pain having been unable to post for months. A solution? Not sure. I do find that every once in a while when the voices get too loud its time to change the subject for a bit, though.

    You are the boss here as you know, and that fact is pretty empowering. Either way, you can always pretend that whatever develops is the direction you had originally planned…..Like: “Bi-Monthly Smackdown” or “Whenever the Fuck I Feel Like it Hobo Anyday” or “Guest Blogger WInter 2009-10” or my favorite “My Dog is my Blogger” as a few examples……(I’m working on a post for Only in Maine that starts with “My cleverly planned one year hiatus…..” think anyone’ll buy that?).

  22. I tend to power through…but I’m not dealing with bipolarity, either, and that’s a different animal, I have no doubt. I’ve found, though, when I get really burned out, one of the things that helps me is to get my flabby butt back in the gym, which also does good things for my flabby butt. Or any other kind of physical activity, or a new pastime/avocation. This year, it’s been cooking for me, and I think that’s something I’ll never give up. But I’m also preparing for a winter in the gym to get back in shape so I can take up hiking next spring.

  23. I agree–taking a break helps. The key is to get re-excited about food innovation. So the holidays should help with that. Until then, we’ll cut you some slack instead of hurling the blog-comment equivalent of “Dance, monkey! Dance!” your way.

  24. I’ll be no help on this one, as I post every single day, regardless of how I feel about it. Never giving myself a break works for me. But I don’t write a food blog, so there’s always lots of topics for me to choose from. A lot of times, I ask readers a question, even a really stupid one like how they make their mashed potatoes, and that gets me through that day. It also gets me a lot of feedback. The one time I asked everyone what regional food is famous where they live, I got more comments than the time I announced my pregnancy.

    That’s a little disturbing, actually.

  25. i haven’t been reading your blog for very long, but i know that as a blogger, you are allowed to take a break. heck if you want, then change it. your blog is what YOU want it to be. if it’s not working for you right now, then don’t do it for a while.
    as far as my own experience goes, i actually went so far as to close the old one and start a new one. maybe don’t worry so much about what other people think. just an idea

  26. hey, everyone, thanks for all the comments and support. i’m actually thinking that i’m leaning toward the “powering through” side, because i think it’ll ultimately be better for ME than taking a break. i think i have to figure out how to shake up my head rather than the blog.

    it’s just strange when it’s something you love, and you know you love it, yet it feel like you love it less. but when it comes down to it, i think my blog rawks. like bon jovi circa 1986 (that is, hard).

    and the rambling goes on. maybe my next substantive post will just be ALL RAMBLING and that will get it out of my system.

  27. I find “real” life gets in the way of creativity. Finding time to just think and dream is a real challenge. One thing that charges my writing juices is a trip alone to the public library, sit in the quiet room with my lap top and have at it. For some reason, just having writing around me inspires me to write. Plus, you have to believe we will read ANYTHING you write, which we will!

  28. Mayyybe – switch things up a bit? Try brewing beer? some kind of long term project that you can keep us updated on? Or – I kind of loved it when you posted that note you left in your office kitchen. I sent it to all my coworkers and they cracked up too!

  29. This is my first time commenting on your blog, which is fucking hilarious. You have a great sense of humor, I was reading your archives this weekend just so I could get a belly laugh or 2. Bottom line, you crack people up. I definitely have to talk myself into being upbeat and happy rather than miserable and pissed off due to a number of things….BUT I hate being in a bad mood and I refuse to let myself get that way, hence each day is a bit of a roller coaster depending on who is getting in my face. So, all I can tell you is being aware of your funk is the first step in getting your groove back. As far as this blog goes, maybe you should not post so much, its a lot of pressure to be on everyday. Just don’t cut back too much, you are a riot and I would miss your hilarious posts!

  30. I post 2x a day — far less words than you do — and sometimes it drives me batty too. Some days I just need to take a break, and I just won’t get to the second post. Sometimes I’ll just do a half-assed post and ask readers something stupid for an open thread, or throw a poll up on the site.

    Guest writers would be a great thing — or just more awesome shit you want. Because you want some pretty awesome shit. Oh, and maybe ask your readers to e-mail you if they’ve seen any awesome shit, as well? When I asked my readers to do that it took a lot of pressure off my first post of the day. You still have to use editorial judgment, of course — if you don’t think it’s awesome, you can’t just be lazy and throw it up there because your readers will still blame you if it’s not cool (heh, or at least my readers do) but it makes it way easier, to have a pool of things to choose from.

    Anyway, just saying: I hear you, re: the exhaustion that comes with writing so often on one topic.

    Oh: and a lot of times when I go running I end up with a great idea for the blog. (Or for another short story, or for a business idea, or whatever.) To me that’s my time to ponder… if you have a “space” like that in your day, in your head, it’s a great thing.

  31. Michelle, I have not taken the time to read all the feedback and as a creative artist, I feel ya babe. I say, “do what makes you happy”. If cooking makes you happy but writing about it doesn’t, than just cook. If writing makes you happy but cooking doesn’t, let Brian cook. Or eat out more. Be gentle and kind to yourself and know that you are loved regardless of your voice or your cooking or your cranky ass blog. Something happened in SF and there’s just: one question.
    Peace girl,
    carry on and be real,

  32. I’m also a big fan of powering through (and it is entirely self-serving for me to even suggest that you go this route). I will say that if it leads you to a different writing voice/tone/subject matter, then so be it. Are you sick of writing about food and want to write about something else? Are you wanting to try out a new format? Pics with captions? Stories about your dog(s)? Well, try it! Power through and try something different at the same time. Mix it up.

    But ultimately, don’t listen to me or to anyone else. Listen to that little voice inside that gives you direction. That’s the way to go.

  33. I agree with the suggestions of guest bloggers — perhaps with the assignment that their posts should be inspired by your unique blogging style. In the meanwhile, I think strange new assignments that get you out of your usual patterns are the way to go… I highly recommend the book (and website) Learning To Love You More (which I know sounds like a self-help thing but totally is not)… They’ve got 70 different inspired “assignments” that are all a spark of something different and bizarre… Things like “photograph a scar you have and write about it” or “take a flash photo under your bed” or one of my favorites “make an educational public plaque”…


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