Running on Fumes

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

Running on vapors, the last vestiges of fumes that serve as the fuel for your spark. Deep within you, something yearns. Soon you learn that within these vapors, the sharp aroma of desperation is intermingled. So the question begs to be asked: What do I do?

There are moments in life when as writers we all suffer from periods where we feel empty. The fuel in our hearts is nearly gone and with it, the fire of the passion burning inside us. You may feel helpless, probably frustrated and ultimately a voice might whisper in your ear to say: Stop wasting your time.

In my own life there had been many moments like this. Sometimes after a breakup, I would often find the muses silent. My love for my work and art as a writer became lackluster. In many ways the work became total crap. In the doldrums, my heart was simply empty.

But I think that is both our blessing and curse. Writers and artists are emotional people by nature. Our passions drive us, consume us and dominate our thoughts. We look at the world through a very different lens than most. We see beyond the mundane, into the beauty, and strangeness of the world around us. We see both heaven, hell and everything in between.

When inspired, we craft masterpieces. We share the visions dancing so clearly in our minds with a world that stands in awe of what we create. In many ways, we are sharing the deepest parts of our hearts and souls.

For some of us, it’s its own therapy. A way to deal with the demons before they consume us. For others, it’s a labor of love and joy. The sense of completion and ‘rightness’ in the world that comes when they press the keys on their laptops or place the pen to paper is unparalleled. In fact the world seems dull, grey and empty when we aren’t at our perspective canvases.

So, how do we rekindle the flame?

Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of time. When bad things happen in our lives and threaten to snuff the fires of our passion, it takes a while for the embers to be rekindled back into their former glory. I guess a better way to say it is: It takes time to heal.

For me, I plow through it. It may be muddy and slow, but it’s the only way I know how. Sometimes it’s as simple as a distraction that is keeping you from moving in the right direction. I recently came to realize this with something I was dealing with.

Another method I use is to simply get away. To sit in silence in a strange unfamiliar place like a coffee shop or bistro (or subway 😉). If need be, I’ll put my headphones in and shut out the world. Music often has its own way of helping me sort things out.

The point is, find your place and let it speak to you. Let it be a bellows to the still burning embers in your heart until it reignites the love you have for what you do. Cut away the things that are holding you back so you can press on toward what’s ahead.

Even after saying all of this, time in the doldrums isn’t easy. It drains you and at times you have to fight for a single moment or a wisp of wind to fill your sails. I have spent months there in the past as have some of you I’m sure.

Don’t give up though, sometimes our greatest works come from facing the most difficult moments in our lives. These hurts become strengths and tools that enable our words to reach others in ways we couldn’t have imagined. So, no matter what keep writing. Ten words a day is better than none at all.


Matt Brown

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