The month I lost my zest for writing…

This morning, for the first time in about a month, I woke up and wanted to write.

Brain out of order

More than that. I wanted to write, read, sing, think, love, laugh and teach the children mildly inappropriate jokes to share with their friends.

Back to normal then.

It’s been a different story over the last month. Without noticing any dramatic change I slowly lost interest in pretty much everything that gives grist to daily life.

I love writing, and it’s how I earn my living “” but I had to force myself to do it.

I’m good at focus and analysis “” but I couldn’t stick at a single task for more than a few minutes.

I enjoy communicating “” but I began to dread the sound of the phone ringing, and I practically abandoned social media.

I adore reading “” but I barely read a page. Nearly every book I was reading in September remains untouched since then.

I relish speaking in public “” but when I did it, it was as though I was sitting in the audience, watching myself perform.

Worst of all, my brain felt as though it was in a perpetual fog or stuffed with poisonous feathers. I don’t mean the kind of light befuddlement you experience before you have the first coffee of the day. This was more akin to having ulcers aching dully on the inside of your skull. Colours and sounds seemed washed out and much (though, mercifully, not all) music lost its zing. Thinking was like pulling on gears that had been worn almost completely smooth.

And the alarming thing was that it took me weeks to notice the problem. I only began to fully realise something was wrong when intermittent fissures in my mental fog began to let in shafts of hope and sunlight. By catching glimpses of my ‘normal’ self, it dawned on me that something had changed for the worse.

I don’t know for certain what the problem was. I know for certain that I never want it to return.

But it has thrown one thing into focus “” how precarious a career as a copywriter can be. I look back at the work I’ve done over the last month, and miraculously it seems to be as good as anything I’d normally write. It’s just that there’s a lot less of it, and I can barely recall writing a word.

I didn’t lose my talent for writing copy, but I sure as anything lost my zest for writing it.

And now that’s returned I’m not going to take it for granted. I’ve got a lot to catch up with, and I want to get it done in case the fog comes down once more.


17th November 2012


As part of my psychology degree, I sat an exam during which I suffered a complete panic attack for no apparent reason. I have no memory of it at all.

Afterwards, I was sure I’d failed. I was amazed to find I got about the same result I’d expected.

It seems the preparation had paid off and my unconscious brain allowed me to write as normal while my conscious brain was off with the fairies.

17th November 2012


P.S. Glad you’re feeling better 🙂

19th November 2012

Betti Moser

Thanks so much for this post, Ben! It’s good to hear that I’m not alone in suffering from phases like this. Not sure I can offer any advice either. All I know is that I recognise all the symptoms you describe. And also the feeling when you come out of it and try to figure out why the hell it happened and – more importantly – how you can prevent it from happening again.

I’ll let you know when I’ve found the answer.

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