The Problem With “Blah” Days

Dust painting the sky brown

“Blah” days are wonderful for writing morbid, depressing stories riddled with misery and misfortune.  On those days, it’s easy to dream up bad things to happen to unlucky characters.  Rather than assume this is because I’m a cruel person, I prefer to rationalize it as me being an artist breathing authentic sorrow into the lungs of my characters.

Yeah, that’s a load of baloney.  The fact is, if I’m not happy, my characters cannot be happy either.

This causes a problem when I’m working on a story that’s supposed to have a touching twist.  On my “blah” day, it becomes a twisted ending instead.

Here’s what I mean.  Monday was my “blah” day and it was also a day where I had a couple hours to write.  My character was supposed to realize he misjudged someone before any harm was done.  God had been watching over him.

My “blah” day would let me have none of that.  My fingers typed out a scenario where my character killed the man.  There was no contemplation or restraint – one blow and he was dead.  Instead of God watching over him, Satan sat in the corner laughing his head off.  That’s just not nice.

I deemed that writing a hope-filled story was hopeless that day, so instead, I wrote a blog post about my damaged washing machine.  (Sorry about that, everyone.  You’ll be pleased to know that my “blahs” have gone away.  However, my washing machine noise hasn’t.)

Interestingly, I’ve found that if I am in a cheery mood, I can channel memories of anger, frustration, sadness, and basically any emotion that brings me down, to write a story.  Why can’t it work the other way around?

Here’s a poem I wrote on Monday morning, before I knew the frustrations of the day:

Tears For No Reason

I woke in a mood –

A dark shade of gray;

Much sadder than blue,

Why did it find me today?

Songs of grace and glory,

Hope, love and redemption

Should be of comfort to me –

But tears fell for no reason.

Is your writing affected by your moods?  Or are you able to overcome your mood and “become” your characters?

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30 thoughts on “The Problem With “Blah” Days

  1. Tori Nelson June 16, 2011 / 8:35 AM

    I am a moody writer all the way. I’ve had a topic I’d like to write on that is happy or funny or cheerful, and if I wake up grumpy or otherwise pissy, I totally abandon the topic to pick it up on another, sunnier day.

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 6:51 PM

      I’m glad I’m not the only one, Tori 🙂 Picking up the topic on another day is probably the best thing to do!

  2. Amanda Hoving June 16, 2011 / 8:42 AM

    Sometimes the “Blah days” seep into my writing. But I think it also can make your writing richer. And there’s always the delete key when the Blah day is over…

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 6:56 PM

      I love the delete key – it is so easy to wipe out the ‘bad’ writing! I suppose if you know how to handle your ‘blah’ days, your writing can be improved.

  3. Melissa June 16, 2011 / 8:56 AM

    I, too, work the same way. If I’m happy, I can channel just about any emotion needed, though I prefer to stay away from angst if possible. However, if I’m in a mood, it is really. stinking. hard.

    Apparently, this misery also loves company – be it fictitious or in person.

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:00 PM

      That misery is a tricky thing – it would be better if it preferred solitude 😉

      Now, if we could just master techniques to write ‘happy’ when we aren’t, we could write a book and share what we’ve learned.

      Thanks for sharing your comment, Melissa!

  4. TimW June 16, 2011 / 8:56 AM

    What does it say about me when I become happy when writing about bad things happening to my characters?

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:09 PM

      Hmmm, that’s a bit frightening, Tim 🙂 I’m not sure what to think about that!

  5. Carol Ann Hoel June 16, 2011 / 10:14 AM

    We are moody, and a gray day may provoke those darker emotions in us. I don’t know the whole answer, but the Bible says we should intentionally direct our thoughts to things that are good. I can’t always do this successfully either. Yet, I make up my mind that I will be thankful. I can easily find a bunch of reasons to praise God for His care for me. These thoughts may not make me jump for joy, but they help to get me off that slippery banana meant to bring me down. I like your poem. I’ve been there and felt that way, too. Often. The world is a sad place. It takes work to bump ourselves up when the natural direction is down. Think Jesus. He’s the best Upper. Blessings to you, Jana…

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:18 PM

      I do know that when I dwell on negative emotions, it pulls me down further – so it makes sense that thinking good thoughts would elevate our emotions.

      Thanks for your practical suggestions to color my mood happy, Carol. I appreciate it 🙂

  6. dorcas June 16, 2011 / 11:03 AM

    Totally Janna… MY mood affects everything I do.. Lately, I’ve been so bored with just being at home that I cannot even write… 😦 To add to everything.. its been raining here throughout and gloomy… Gosh,my comment seems so depressing … I hope I am not adding woes to your blah days 🙂

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:22 PM

      I’ve been held back by boredom, too. That isn’t fun 😦

      I hope you will see the sunshine through the rain soon. It doesn’t rain much here, but I’ve heard it can really dampen a mood (pun intended ;))

      My blah day has passed, so all is well!

  7. nrhatch June 16, 2011 / 12:47 PM

    I rarely like what I write on dark days. So, if I’m in a “funky” mood, I don’t write . . . I read. 😉

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:28 PM

      You’re smart, Nancy. I shouldn’t have bothered writing. Next time, I’ll grab a book to read.

  8. Debbie June 16, 2011 / 3:57 PM

    Poor Janna, hope it gets better for you! Those ‘blah’ days make it hard to write, so I tend to throw something together (and trash it later!) or do something altogether different. Of course, my genre-of-choice allows me to “kill off” people, and that can be rewarding (sorry, truth often isn’t pretty!)

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:42 PM

      Oh, don’t worry about me, Debbie. Monday was my only “blah” day, so that was good! I guess the down mood might not be bad for writing a mystery. I wouldn’t have pegged you for one to enjoy killing off people!

  9. pattisj June 16, 2011 / 4:17 PM

    Some of my “blah day” writing can bring me up out of the pit. And as someone posted earlier, there’s always the delete button! What a wonderful feature. 🙂

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:44 PM

      I’m glad your writing can lift you up (I’m a little jealous, though :))

      I fully support the ‘delete’ button, Patti.

  10. pattyabr June 16, 2011 / 4:49 PM

    spot on poetry that sums up those kind of days exactly

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:46 PM

      I’m glad you could relate to the poem, Patty. Thanks for reading!

  11. clarbojahn June 16, 2011 / 5:18 PM

    I like your poem, too. I can identify with it. As Nancy says if I’m in a bad mood, I usually read and don’t write. My memoir is kinda typing itself lately so all I have to do is find time for that. My life was one bad mood so for that to be any good I have to write humor into it which for me is hard,, also redemption is hard.

    • jannatwrites June 16, 2011 / 7:48 PM

      Thanks, Clar. You and Nancy are onto something – reading would have been more productive.

      Good luck injecting humor into your hardships in your memoir 🙂

  12. Widdershins June 17, 2011 / 12:09 AM

    I can’t write at all on blah days. And because of deadlines (and an annoying work eithic) I need to write most days. What I usually do is change my physical location, go to a cafe, go for a bike ride. The wind in my hair, dodging ijit pedestrians who insist on walking on the bike paths, nothing like it for blowing the cobwebs away. I take a pad and pencil with me (pens have a habit of dying on me) and can generally work on something

    • jannatwrites June 17, 2011 / 10:17 PM

      I have problems with pens, too! Good suggestions, Widdershins. I can see how a change of scenery can trigger a mood change – thanks for sharing what works for you. I’ll have to give it a try 🙂

  13. crumbl June 17, 2011 / 1:50 PM

    Unfortunately, “blah” doesn’t get much truck in business writing, which is what I do most; however, I do find that when I have a “blah” day, stream of consciousness writing works. Even if it doesn’t result in furthering my story (I write fiction in my spare time), it frequently elevates my mood and gets me back on track.

    We all have “blah” days, JT. Write through them, even if it contributes nothing to the project at hand. Never know what gems might come out of those observations.

    • jannatwrites June 17, 2011 / 11:20 PM

      I suppose it’s possible a gem could be discovered on a “blah” day, but it certainly wasn’t on Monday 🙂 (And I don’t exactly have a collection of gems written on my good days, either!)

      I haven’t tried stream of consciousness writing. I’ll keep that in mind when another “blah” day rolls around…either that, or I’ll just read something written by someone else.

      Thanks for stopping by and offering your suggestion, Crumbl!

  14. Debra Colby-Conklin June 18, 2011 / 5:14 AM

    I think many people write this way…that’s when I love the sunshine, it lifts my spirits….but it also keeps me away from my computer…b/c it’s then way to nice to be sitting inside chained to the computer. LOL. It’s a wonder I get any writing done at all. Thanks for sharing!

    • jannatwrites June 18, 2011 / 8:50 PM

      When the “bad” mood strikes, it would be better to get away from the computer (too bad I don’t have enough sense to do that!)

      I’m glad you stopped by, Debra. Thanks for sharing your strategy for dealing with “blah” days 🙂

  15. Blossom Dreams June 22, 2011 / 12:09 PM

    I rarely write on blah days…because blah days usually mean total lack of motivation for me, so I don’t do much of anything! I admire anybody who can work through that and actually write anything, regardless of the mood or tone of it! Kudos to them (and you!)

    Chloe xx

    • jannatwrites June 22, 2011 / 9:08 PM

      The depressing stuff I come with on blah days doesn’t help my down mood much at all! I think it would be better to skip the writing, as you do 🙂

      Thanks for your visit, Chloe!

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