Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fair Weather Finds

For sailing ships in the 17th and 18th centuries, one of the worst things to encounter was the doldrums. This seemingly harmless low pressure weather system wreaked all kinds of havoc, not the least of which occurred when the wind simply ceased to blow. Without even a puff or a breeze, the sea became smooth as glass. At night the stars reflected off the ocean's surface so that the ships seemed to be drifting in space. Sounds pretty, right? But when the wind was the only means to power those ships, doldrums lasting days or even weeks were downright scary.

I know I’ve been feeling like those ships with a lot less creative wind filling my sails lately, and I wonder if you have, too. Call it the winter blues, or writer’s block or the blahs, but my writing output hasn’t been up to par and neither have my spirits. I think I’m stuck in the doldrums.  Sailors in the olden days had very few options for escape. They could try to row their way out, or they could wait for the weather pattern to change. (Uh, I can’t think of too many more escape routes here – lasso a passing pod of dolphins for a ride?)

Sometimes I think that a lot of stuff I do in the winter months is simply biding my time waiting for the weather pattern to change. Here’s the thing though, I’m not so sure that’s all that bad. In fact, a lot of things we do in our idle time can boost brainpower and even keep depression and anxiety in check. Maybe my creativity just needs a little downtime before it comes out kicking again. Does yours? Here are a few things to do while we wait.


The simple act of looking around and being amazed at what you find can spark the imagination. If all you see outside is dull, then Youtube can be a pretty great substitute. Whether it’s watching a ginormous murmuration of starlings, or driving into a haboob (sorry about the language in the vid), or oohing and aahing over the aurora borealis, life has some incredible material to stoke a writer’s imagination.


Did you know that laughter lowers blood pressure, boosts your immune system, improves memory, and actually increases your creativity? Yep, it’s a scientific fact. And personally, I think it’s one of the best medicines for the blahs. Here are a couple sites for your daily dose.

Cake Wrecks - When Professional Cakes Go Horribly, Hilariously Wrong

Hyperbole and a Half – this site is so hilarious. Be warned, though, it can have some major language.

(Oh, and I’m always looking for more sites. Any suggestions?)


Volunteer, invite friends over, heck, invite strangers over. Skype or Google+ or Facebook.  Do something nice for someone else. Nuff said.


 I’m sure there’s some research out there about how listening to new kinds of music stimulates your brain or something, but I’m not going to look it up. All I know is that I like finding new songs.

I’d actually forgotten about this song until I started writing this blog post, but it always makes me smile.

A few others:

My son introduced me to heavy metal orchestra. Yes, really. Bands like 2Cellos and Apocalyptica are becoming quite popular in some niches.

 And for a more old school sound it's hard to beat Fitz and the Tantrums and The Black Keys.


Of course, reading is a writer’s bread and butter, a staple in the creative diet. So what have you read lately? (I just finished Girl of Fire and Thorns)


Yep, I should be doing it. So should you. And that’s all I’m gonna say.

Gut it Out

Lastly, sometimes you just have to get out the oars and row your way out of the doldrums. No magic dolphins are going to appear to tow you out. So, if a good dose of BIC (behind in chair) is what it takes, go for it.

Spring will come, spring will come…

~ Susan


  1. Great advice! We all need a break from time to time.

    Another really hilarious site I think we'd all enjoy is the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks:

  2. Those are some pretty funny clips. Love the twins talking, too adorable.

    Very good advice of how to get through the doldrums.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. I've been stuck in the doldrums too, although sometimes I think I'm just paddling against the wind, and then still stuck in one place, as if no wind blew.

    I love the Pachebel bedtime.

  4. Doldrums here too. Followed by a cold that has walloped me. Followed by my not saving my Saturday blog post I was working on all afternoon. Which brings me back to the doldrums. Great place to be when you find some good web sites.

    My kids love the "a lot". My youngest, especially, likes to catch people saying it..."That was A LOT of spaghetti! Geddit mom??"

    The doldrums made it a great day to browse through youtube trying to remember what The Evolution of Dance was called. You've probably all seen it before, but it still makes me smile.

    Another oldie but goodie is The Mom Song:

  5. Susan, Did you like Girl of Fire and Thorns?

  6. @Jaron - okay, I spent way too much time browsing that site - too funny - thanks!

    @MaryAnn - glad you liked the clips.

    @Sheena - I love how the guys accent makes him say 'Pachabel' like it rhymes with 'Taco Bell'

    @Melanie - sorry you're feeling icky. And how in the world did I miss that hilarious dance evolution vid (it has 190 million hits!)?

  7. @Melanie - I did like Girl of Fire and Thorns. I actually bought it because the blurb in your post made me panic. 'Ack, that's my story!' I thought - except that after reading it, they weren't alike at all. Phew. It was a good read all around.

  8. I spent half an hour reading Cake Wrecks last night. Thanks a lot! ;)

    (I did know about the site before, but hadn't looked at it in ages).

  9. I never knew the meaning behind doldrums! That's fascinating. The way you described it is inspiration in itself, because even the doldrums can be rather beautiful if you're patient enough. And not running out of food.

    Slightly off-topic from heavy metal orchestra: I once played cello in a string quartet performing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." It was a little sad, but we did wear funky wigs and head-bang. Count that as reason #259 I never had a date in high school ;)


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