In a Fog

Have you ever been driving somewhere and suddenly found yourself in the midst of pea soup fog, peering desperately through the windshield in search of the road? Your own headlights reflect back at you from the enveloping cloud. A once well-known neighbourhood becomes unfamiliar. Discerning directions is like staring at a magnetically confused compass. You can no longer trust your fog-shrouded senses.

That’s what happened to my creative self this past weekend. I thought I knew where my writing was going, but suddenly nothing felt right. Every familiar phrase became suspect. My Inner Critic had descended and cloaked my rationale. I was lost, and I don’t mind telling you… feeling more than a little desperate. I didn’t have time to waste playing vocabulary tic-tac-toe.

Fortunately I knew better than to try and second guess myself. It was time to pull over and wait it out. Eventually the sun began to burn through the mist of my uncertainty and landmarks began to reappear. What a relief! I hate ‘flying blind’.

Have you ever felt doubt overcome your confidence in the middle of a writing project? How did you handle it?

11 thoughts on “In a Fog

  1. Oh, yes. Just a month or so ago, every ounce of muse in me had dried up. I prayed, cried, asked for prayer and advice from friends, and prayed some more. It came back. I’ve since submitted five articles! God is so faithful, even in our foggy places.

  2. We drive confidently in clear weather, but in fog, we are helpless. One very foggy early morning ride to rescue a loved one who’s car had broken down, before I’d ever left the familiar, I made a left turn carefully, I thought. Coming toward me in the fog were headlights. I knew where I was and it was a divided highway. I prayed as I jumped the divide. The rest of the drive was difficult and I prayed constantly. I think you did the right thing to wait for a clear mind before continuing onto the wrong side of a paper highway. I like the perfect photos you found for your post. Blessings to you, Carol…

  3. Tricia says:

    I live where fog is thick in the winter–3 months straight. Sometimes it’s that long before we see a hint of sunshine. Driving is perilous. One must depend on their ears for sounds of other traffic. And if you don’t have working ears (me) you have to depend on prayer. I guess the same is true with writing–listen and pray.

  4. joylene says:

    This happened to me just recently. I posted about it Sept 3. I wish the answer was simple, but I had to push myself. I started reading War and Peace. LOL. I know… but it worked. I went to sleep thinking about my protagonists and woke after dreaming about them. I also bought a small laptop so I could cozy up on my sofa, wrapped in my favourite blanket, and surrounded by my pets. Being comfortable and not so stiff and formal sitting at my desk helped a lot, and I’ve been writing ever since. Now, I sit at my desk during the day, then move to the sofa after dinner. It’s amazing that I’m able to block out the TV, but I can.

    Some say it’s a state of mind. I say it’s an experience we all get once in awhile. Maybe it’s your body’s way of asking for a break.

  5. I had written about 40,000 words of a novel when I read a statement on one agent’s blog that made me doubt myself. I set the manuscript aside for several weeks so I could read it with a fresh mind. During that time I did some research, and later I made some major changes. I haven’t finished it yet, but I think it will be a better story because of the changes.

  6. Laura Best says:

    I’ve definitely been lost in the fog before and I suspect it will happen many more times. I try not to beat myself up over it. If I get too far lost I try working on something else, hoping to get back on the right path again!

  7. Jeanette – I’m glad you made it back on track. It’s always a relief when those foggy times are short-lived!

    Carol Ann – That has to have been a terrifying experience! Thankfully, you made it safely back to where you needed to be but I’ll bet you shook in shock for a long time afterwards. Regarding the photos… I actually took them the morning before I wrote this post. I loved how the sun was emerging from the fog. 🙂

    Tricia – I can’t imagine three full months of mostly fog! We get it occasionally here on the coast – it lays in the hills and hollows and along the rivers in the early morning until an onshore breeze clears it away or the sun burns it off. I’m sure you have to be especially alert for the dangers you can’t hear coming. That must be more than a little nerve wracking at times.

  8. Joylene – That ‘state of mind’ thing hits in different ways, I guess. The ‘fog’ aspect wasn’t so much writer’s block as it was a self-doubting about the direction the story was taking. I needed some clarity. Changing the locale helps. Like you, I often sit with my laptop in the family room. I don’t get as much written when the TV is competing, but my mind stops fighting for words and just lets them come.

    Carol – That doubt is what hit me, too. It was my own inner voice, however, not anyone else’s words that caused it. Taking time to evaluate and research as you did was probably a good thing. Now you’ll have more conviction about where your story is going.

    Laura – That was the approach I took, too. I wrote a couple blog posts instead and then went to bed. The next morning it seemed that the break had given me a fresh perspective and I was able to pick up the pertinent threads and get going again. I like your attitude about not beating yourself up. 🙂

  9. Shari says:

    “pull over and wait it out” — excellent advice for when we’re lost in a writing fog!

    I’ve definitely been hit by self-doubt in the middle of projects. One thing that helps me is making a list (is there ever a time when list-making ISN’T helpful, lol): first, I list what I love about the project (a character, the theme, a certain scene, whatever…), then I list what needs to be fixed/finished/figured-out. When I’m working on it, I refer back to the “what I love” column whenever I need help keeping myself focused and positive — reminds me why I loved the project in the beginning. 🙂

  10. elderfox says:

    Hey, m-friend, you know my delimma I’ve gripped about it for a long time…BUT I seem to be driving forward altho a bit cautiously…(this morning we have fog here—oddly? your blog arrived too). You have a great time at the Conference!!!


  11. elderfox says:

    mE again…forgot to mention, the story I’m working into, has my heroine arriving at work in the fog (location is Seattle).
    Oh and fog has disappeared here, looks like a sunshine day :>

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