Confession: Sometimes I get in a slump where I don’t want to do…anything. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to blog. I don’t want to write. I definitely don’t want to work, but I have to because things like food and heat are “important.”
It’s not necessarily because anything is wrong; my brain has just hit this point where it doesn’t want to engage anymore. Its capacity gets maxed out and all it is capable of is flopping on the couch and watching old episodes of Friday Night Lights while surfing Tumblr. Books require concentration, and I just don’t have that superpower in my wheelhouse anymore.
The problem is that without me doing something about it, it’ll take for-freakin’-ever for me to snap out of it. I need to jump-start my brain or it will just sit sputter weakly in my living room until the end of time.
So what do I do to snap myself out of an intellectual slump?
- Engage with the humans. I’m an introvert who can be perfectly happy without leaving my house for weeks at a time, but when I get like this, it’s important to get out and interact with other humans. Other bookish types are the best, and fortunately we have a lot of events here where I can interact with people who get really excited about books and writing. It’s rare that I leave a book/writer event without wanting to immediately read half a dozen books and write fifty pages. But in the absence of bookish folk, just hanging out with friends and changing up my discussion habits can get my mind re-engaged.
- Read something I like. This can be either something I’ve already read that I know I love, or something I’ve really been looking forward to. But if I’m not feeling it within the first few pages, I switch to something else that I can really become immersed in. And just because a book is “good” doesn’t mean it’s the right one to pull me out of a slump. I love The Book Thief, but if I’m slumpy, I probably won’t be able to wrap my brain around it. I need something more like Anna and the French Kiss, which is delightful and keeps me engaged, but doesn’t require herculean amounts of effort from my brain. Which brings me to…
- Change up genres. Maybe I’m just burnt out on sci-fi and I need to go read a contemporary romance, or I’m feeling bleak from dystopians so I need an action-packed fantasy. Maybe I’ve read one paranormal romance too many and need an imaginative fairy tale retelling. The name of the game is trial and error. If I’ve been bingeing in the same genre, I just have to mix things up until I find one that sticks.
- Set aside time for reading. You know what the prior two suggestions have in common? I actually have to force myself to sit down and do it. I don’t get all ambitious and set aside three hours. Just about 30 minutes, where I say, “now is reading time.” I have to walk away from the computer (and the iPad. Darn you, siren song of mobile technology) and go sit in my recliner with my snuggie* and a mug of hot chocolate. I’m not allowed to check my email or channel surf. I need to read. If I force myself to do this for a few days, with a book I really like, I can generally recharge my brain batteries.
- Talk about what I’m reading. Whether this is online on blogs or Twitter, or in person with my friends or my husband, I can get a lot more engaged in what I’m reading if I have someone to discuss it with. It’s why I started this blog in the first place.
*Don’t knock the snuggie, snuggies are awesome.