Spiritual Stagnation, a Temporary Layover–Redux

[Looking back three years to a favorite post from 6/1/15. To see Comments on the original , click HERE.]

By Eleni Papanou

One major facet of writing visionary fiction is that the author  spiritually grows during the writing process. There are periods where I have to put my work aside, either when I’m in spiritual stagnation or not feeling worthy enough to write because of a personal challenge that I have yet to overcome. Only after I sort through whatever issue is troubling me can I proceed. Each book’s conclusion connects me to the lessons learned by the characters, whose interior growth mirrors my own. What I find most revealing is that my characters ascend to a higher level than me; however, they take me one step further on my own path. They inspire me to become a better person.

I posed the question to some of my fellow authors of how they handle spiritual stagnation during the writing process and got some insightful responses.

Bob Fahey, author of Entertaining Naked People says “understanding the situation can only help so much. I know from long experience that these last for a few days while something marinates within me and then suddenly bursts free in unbelievable spouts of inspiration. And yet I still go through funks. I am just this morning coming out of a three day one. I call these being human. I can’t seem to connect with my guides in meditation; can’t feel healing energies flowing through me for those at a distance; have no ideas for whatever books I may be writing at the time. I am merely human for a while and I don’t like that. But I also realize the masters have better things to do with their time than constantly babysitting me and feeding me ideas, so perhaps I may be of some small service to them at the time by simply not pestering them and begging for more.”

However, Fahey isn’t sure whether he believes in spiritual stagnation:

“I see us as vibrant spiritual beings even when we’re unaware of it so I am not sure I believe in spiritual stagnation once you really have that ball rolling.”

I agree with the statement; however, the egoic part of me—the part that sometimes disconnects from the eternal light within me—can become stagnant. Upon reflection, I realize I need to go through periods of disconnection in order to live through a lesson, along with all the pain that comes along with learning what I must learn.

While some writers may break from writing during stagnation, others plow right on through their challenges. Sandy Nathan, award-winning author of the “Earth’s End Trilogy,”—and a plethora of other books—makes it clear why she is so productive in her writing endeavors.

“I don’t think a writer needs to be going through spiritual and personal barriers like crazy to write well. So much of actually seeing a book in print is a “seat in chair” type work, not active inspiration. If a book is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, the inspiration can happen whenever. Before the writing, one hopes.” That isn’t to say Sandy hasn’t experienced her own challenges: “At times in my life, I’ve been flaming spiritually.  Such a period occurred when I wrote my spiritual memoir, Stepping Off the Edge. This was from about 1993 to about 1999. My spiritual life has been less dramatic since, but I wrote so much in the “flaming era” that I have a stockpile of material that will probably take me the rest of my life to write.”

Bob Fahey can also work through his experiences. “Another blessing is that I create characters, dialogue, and such out of what it happening around and within as I write. “ He offers some advice to other writers on how to work through the process.”You could give such challenges over to a character and have him or her work out in the story for all the world to share in. This could actually help some of the readers who may be facing down similar issues.”

While Sandy and Bob can work during periods of stagnation, I find that I must detach for a while to process whatever challenge I’m facing. Most of my writing will go into my spiritual journal. I recently went through a period of spiritual stagnation, which directed me toward a new path in my life, one in which may become a story one day. The challenge was excruciating, at first, but it eventually led me to a new passion…singing Greek music. It has reconnected me to my nationality that I have turned away from because of the prejudice I’d experienced as a child.

Whatever circumstance lies behind our spiritual stagnation, many of us who write VF heal and evolve spiritually during the process. Jan Krause Greene, the author of I Call Myself Earth Girl, says, “My experience was that writing my novel – the first fiction I have ever written (I was a columnist for years) – created a surge of spiritual questing and growth. It was totally unexpected, but I can honestly say that writing this book opened a closed part of me to spirituality.”

And that is something this author can attest to!


Eleni Papanou is an award-winning author and perpetual student of life. Visit her website  for news and updates.

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13 thoughts on “Spiritual Stagnation, a Temporary Layover–Redux

  1. V. M. Franck - vi says:

    Eleni,

    I certainly concur with your conclusions and those of the writers you quote here. When I write I’m working something through. If nothing needs working through at the time, I’m at a loss as to how to proceed. Maybe instead of thinking you are stagnant, you could think of it as reaching a plateau. You can take time to stare out over the landscape and allow yourself to be renewed by it.

    Lately, that’s where I’ve been. I realized that most of what I needed to work through, I’ve already done in my stories. It’s time for me to draw on another type of source. I thought about what I wanted most – a closer connection to my loved ones who have passed. I wanted to write a book about it, but I wanted to do it differently. I didn’t want to be trite. I had to step outside my comfort zone of pain…if that makes sense. I was watching a science documentary and realized how I needed to handle it. So I ordered a reference book. I’m reading it now and will sculpt the book I’m working on with insights from science.

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  2. Eleni Papanou says:

    You make a lot of sense. A lot of what you wrote about here is something I can relate to. Irrespective of what term we use, we reach that point where we need to step outside our comfort zone in order to move forward. Thanks for commenting and best of luck with your work and living outside your comfort zone!

    Eleni

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  3. Michelle Frost says:

    Lovely article. I tend to move forward in steps. By that I mean that I leap upwards… then seem to sit in stagnation until the next “step up” leap. I’d prefer a gentle trundle up a hillside, but that’s never been my way. LOL

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  4. Saleena Karim says:

    Good to read this again Eleni. I really liked Bob Fahey’s suggestion of getting your characters to work through your problems for you. I also agree with you on egoic detachment as a form of spiritual stagnation – or certainly that it’s a bump in the road.

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  5. Eleni Papanou says:

    I have had many bumps, including my current one. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had as much time to reflect. But I accept that as part of the experience of the journey. Spiritual growth is messy, at times. However, I now welcome these times with an open mind and with a curiosity as to where I will end up. I always loved a good mystery!

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  6. margaretduarte says:

    “Whatever circumstance lies behind our spiritual stagnation, many of us who write VF heal and evolve spiritually during the process.” Well said, Eleni. Sometimes, when I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” I find my answer to be similar to your statement. “To heal and evolve spiritually.” At other times my answer is, “To stay sane.”

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  7. christinagreenaway says:

    Thank you for sharing about how you handle spiritual dry spots. I found the post and comments insightful. Waves of gratitude arose in my heart as I read them—gratitude for being a member of a spiritually evolved writing family.

    I find meditation is much like writing. Sometimes, upon closing my eyes, I soar into the bliss of pure awareness. Others days, it’s not so easy. The important thing is that I show up every day. I am present and ready to serve wherever I am needed. I bring that same presence to the empty page, and it tells the story I’m here and I need to know what comes next. Trust. It works. I’m about to publish my third novel.

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  8. Jodine Turner says:

    I can so relate to your article, Eleni. In my Carry on the Flame series, I found myself stalled until I realized I had to heal a piece of my own grief before I could write the experience for my main character. And other times, my meditation and journeying experiences get reflected in the character’s growth and the storyline. You’re a wise soul, dear Eleni!

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