The Hump



Stephen Buehler
Stephen Buehler

It’s always been a challenge for me to get over the creative hump. That’s the activity of finally sitting down in front of your computer to start writing. I do the usual avoidance, like cleaning (but not too much), or watch television or read a good book – for research of course!

Creative Hump

Part of the reason is that I feel less creative after the election. I’m not going to talk politics but that’s just the way I feel. There are some other factors too. It’s harder for me to get motivated. I wanted to write a short story for the next Bouchercon anthology but no idea came to me. I’m usually pretty good with coming up with stories. In the past, I either have an idea that I’ve thought of before but didn’t know how to use it, or come up with a fresh one, especially when I’m walking Seymour. But nothing came. I’ve even missed a few of my blog dates. That’s disappointing to me.


My current project is taking my novella, The Mindreading Murders, and expanding it to novel size. Most of the story has been written so I thought it should be an easy task adding 15,000 words. But it’s been a struggle. I have come up with a number of new scenes and storylines which I had to create from scratch and connect some dots that weren’t connected before – and that’s work, but the kind of work I usually enjoy.

But don’t fret, I’m getting more done. My goal was to have this draft done by January 31 – that didn’t happen but it’s going to happen soon. The more I write, the easier it is.

Here’s the thing, when I finally get myself in my chair and my mind back in the story, I’m creatively high. It feels like home. I’m excited to see where I’m going next and what I’ll come up with. I’m making connections that I didn’t realize were there before but my subconscious knew it. When I’m in that zone or just after coming out of it, I get more of my other stuff done. It’s as if a haze has dissipated and I’m able to see my worth again.

And that’s the answer – to remember how good it feels to write. To be creative. To stay in that zone as much as possible. I’m now using a calendar and scheduling time to write. In the past I could sit down and write whenever I wanted but now I need the extra discipline of a due date. Even if it’s my own due date.


The creative hump will always be there – but I’m working on making it less of a challenge to hurdle that hump!

How has your writing been going in 2017?

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Stephen Buehler will be attending the Left Coast Crime 2017 conference, Honolulu Havoc – March 16th – 19th. His short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Derringer finalist short story, Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology. His story, Seth’s Big Move will appear in the Last Exit to Murder anthology in the spring of 2017. He’s expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and is shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner.


24 thoughts on “The Hump

  1. Stephen, You hit on a universal truth for writers. We must write in order to write. When I misss my weekly writing group, the group energy, I don’t write much at all. For me that is the spark to get me going. I do, however, constantly think on the project I am currently working on.

    Here’s to a great 2017 and all that can be accomplished. Doris


    1. Doris,
      I forgot to mention my weekly writers group meetings. Thank you for reminding me.I bring something almost all the time. It’s like having homework each week. I may write something at the last minute but at least it’s some writing time.
      Thank you for reading my blog.
      – Stephen


  2. I chain myself to the chair, put Facebook off limits, and start writing. Hey, I’m kidding. Honestly, once I start pounding on the keyboard, it doesn’t take long to start drawing out my tale and putting it down on the screen. It’s just like telling a story to a bunch of friends… that’s how I try to look at it. Of course, I already have a detailed outline that I can use to keep my focus in place.


  3. I think many of us can relate. Inertia towards getting those words down happens for me. But once I get started, they flow. It’s hard not to let external forces dampen our creativity, like the world or personal tasks, especially when the media, which we turn on sometimes, tries to set the tone for disaster everywhere, no matter the state of affairs. Glad you are getting going again. I have a monthly writers group, but have often wondered if a weekly was doable and better.


  4. Neva,
    Thank you for reading my blog.
    One advantage of a weekly writers group is, if we can’t meet that week (there’s only 3 of us), it’s only a week missed unlike a monthly group. Even when we don’t meet, we can send each other our work and get notes back before the next meeting. My group had been so instrumental in the quality and quantity of my work, I can’t thank them enough.
    I liked that you used the word, “inertian.” That’s what it’s all about. Write to write.
    – Thanks


  5. Your post resonates with me. I’m glad you’re finding ways to get over the hump, like scheduling writing time for yourself. It’s been difficult writing for me too and I was doing it in spurts (which is actually nothing new for me). I just did a big spurt for a 1/31 deadline and I turned off my cell phone that weekend which was the only way I wasn’t going to be distracted. I did what an article suggested: writing for 50 minutes, then 10 minute breaks where you could look on social media or whatever, then back to writing for 50 mins more. It worked really well for me and eventually, I found myself not wanting the 10 min breaks once I got into my story. Keep up the good work!


    1. Sarah,
      I like that system of 50 minutes of writing then 10 minute breaks. However if I went on social media during those breaks I might get back to writing. You’re always learning and developing being a writer.
      Thank you for reading my post.
      – Stephen


  6. Stephen, I love what you said about doing cleaning to procrastinate. When I was single, several women commented on how clean my place was. And that was because I would clean to procrastinate. Put on music and clean and it got out some nervous energy too. But that was also before the internet which is a much better and more fun procrastination tool.


    1. Paul,
      I also walk the dog more, watch magic DVD’s and try to learn a new trick, read, write six word stories and eventually clean too. When people say writers are creative, they’re not only talking about writing. They’re also creative on how NOT to write.
      Thanks for reading the blog.
      – Stephen

      Liked by 1 person

  7. 2017 has not been a good writing time for me. But 2016 was not either, nor for my art. Seems like there was always something getting in the way. Right now I’m still trying to downsize all my stuff, do my Genealogy (which I’ve done extensively), and started clogging. So we’ll see what the rest of the year brings. Cher’ley


  8. Cher’ley
    In my writing life I’ve stepped away from it for periods at a time. Sometimes in was voluntarily and sometimes real life events got in the way. Get to it when you can if it makes you feel better. I hope your 2017 turns out great!
    Thank you for reading my blog.
    – Stephen


  9. It’s good to know you’re moving out of the hump! I have my own avoidances, Stephen, some like you name above but I always keep up with my guest blogging. The thing with that is that I justify them as being writing- just not adding to my WIP writing. When my family ‘life’ interrupts I’ve learned to accept that writing tasks take that back seat beacuse they will never take priority over my family. But I know that I’ll get back to a better writing flow…this year! Maybe not January 2017 as I’d hoped. Or early February since that’s current… Who knows?


  10. I think a lot of us hit a bit of a rough patch after the election, kind of a fog. The fog is now lifting a bit for me and I am getting back at it as well.


  11. Great post, Stephen, one to which I can truly relate. Last fall I took a six-week writing class which both inspired me and made me question whether I should write books anymore! Usually, though, I’d be fired up to write on my manuscript(s), but ended up with so many magazine and newspaper writing assignments, I couldn’t get into my book writing. Same for the first few months of this month. I am planning a self-imposed retreat in March and am also hoping to set aside some time this coming week as I’ve met one major deadline and my other articles aren’t due for about three more weeks. So, my hope is to take a break in article writing and work on my WIPs, then work on the articles for two weeks, meet those deadlines, and get back into my WIPs. Balancing “day-job” and “article writing” with “book writing” gets a bit difficult — but I am thankful for the articles assigned for which I make some money. Best to you as you work on your novel!


  12. You describe the situation so well. I’m highly skilled at avoidance but choose Facebook and mindless computer games over cleaning. I know that once I start writing, ideas come and I feel wonderful, and yet I keep playing those darned games. I also know that ideas often crop up when I’m cleaning. WHY DO WE DO THAT? Oddly enough, I’ve been more productive since the first of the year: I’ve written two pretty decent stories, one of which has been accepted for an anthology. But both were written to deadlines–if I have an assignment and a deadline, I usually come through. A psychologist, and several books, explain that my brain is wired that way. That’s some consolation, I guess, but I’d rather be a self-starter, even if I still had to deal with avoidance. Congratulations on your progress in getting over the hump, and best wishes for all your writing endeavors.


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