Friday, September 14, 2012

Life Lessons—Getting Out of a Funk

by Reba J Hoffman

When you're in a funk, everything stinks!
I’m sure it’s happened to you before. For some reason you just feel emotionally paralyzed. And more often than not, you don’t know what caused it. You just feel awful. Not depressed… but sort of. Not angry… but irritated. It’s like you’re floating on the garbage barge on the Hudson River. Everything around you just stinks.

Yep, that’s a funk, or as we call it where I come from: the mulligrubs.

As a writer, you’re even more at risk for funk-itis than, oh, say the greeter at Wal-Mart. Why? Because you’re not only dealing with your own emotional ups and downs, but those of your characters as well.

Experiencing your character's emotions can be an
occupational hazard of writing
It’s an occupational hazard of being a writer. Alicia, your protagonist, loses her puppy. You type it out and move on. Then, suddenly out of seemingly nowhere, you feel like you’re grieving. Are you crazy? No, just identifying with your characters.

Here are some things you can do when you need help getting out of a funk.

  • Recognize and admit you’re in the funk. You may be thinking, Duh, but most of us try to rationalize those feelings away, or ignore them altogether. That never works. 
  • Center yourself in the moment. Oftentimes writers construct story lines that are parallel to their lives. That’s good in that they have an inside scoop to the inner workings of that event. The downside happens when your brain automatically files that fiction under one of your “Oh-geez-I-just-got-jilted” breakups.
  • Don’t give it control. As soon as you recognize it’s happening and you emotionally center yourself in the present, you have full power to take charge of it. Do something constructive like write another scene, go for a walk, or call to encourage a friend.
Be nice to yourself!
  • Be nice to yourself. Don’t beat your chops because you get into a funk. It happens to everyone. It’s not like you lost the family ranch in a bet at a horse race. It’s a part of being human. Don’t take it so seriously. Moons aren’t the only things that are blue occasionally.

As a writer, every emotional hill and curve provides valuable insight as to how your characters will feel at some point. Take time to notice how you feel in a funk. No, really. It will make you a better writer… and will help you get out of the funk!

When was the last time you were in a funk? How did you get out of it? Leave a comment.

Reba J. Hoffman is the founder and president of Magellan Life Coaching ( She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling and is a natural encourager. She serves as Member Care Coach for My Book Therapy and is the author of Dare to Dream, A Writer’s Journal. You can connect with Reba through her motivational blog, Finding True North, or by email at You can also follow her on Twitter at @RebaJHoffman.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks, Reba. You have such a gift and we're blessed that you share it with us.

  3. For me when I'm in a funk, being ADHD has its benefits. lol My funky moods don't usually last long before I'm on to something else. Great post, Reba!

  4. Thanks for reminding us of things we all struggle with. I usually begin by walking. I get out of the house and walk and pray and the physical exercise does something for me mentally.

  5. That's a great idea, Tammie. I might just try that.


  6. Prayer works for me. Also doing something mindless like dishes, taking a shower, cleaning while I mull over what I'm struggling with. This summer I had my kids home from college and writing took a sideline. Now I'm trying to get back into the swing of things so I change things up. My husband is home so sometimes I go to the library or a coffee shop to write. When at home, if I'm avoiding my story I tell myself I will work on it for fifteen minutes. I can do anything for fifteen minutes. When that time is up, I'm usually back in swing and fifteen minutes stretches to a longer period of time. Have a blessed day.

  7. Such good stuff, Reba. I love your wisdom.

    The last time I was in a major funk--or had the mulligrubs, as you say!--was last winter. I was stressed...and it was showing up physically. Not cool. But some wisdom from my amazing parents and a conscious decision on my part to choose to manage my emotions rather than letting them manage me worked wonders. Most of all, prayer...and trusting that God had an awesome plan even if I couldn't see it at the time. :)

  8. We writers are a strange lot, huh? My MC's sister dies in the beginning of my WIP and sometimes I'm so sad for her, I have to take a writing break.

  9. Reba, what a fabulous post! Such practical advice and its great to hear the originality of topic considering the frequency of this struggle for writers. Thanks!