Stuck in a rut.

I am stuck in a rut. Or, trapped by “The Dip” as Seth Godin calls it.

You might have noticed that I am blogging and tweeting less frequently. (Or maybe you didn’t. Hey, you’re busy. I don’t expect you to keep tabs on me.) Lately I have felt like I have nothing to say. And I don’t just want to blog or tweet for the hell of it.

I haven’t felt that creative spark in the last month that has driven my blog for the last year. (I was excited to see that I recently passed my one year blogging anniversary!) I am asking myself why? Why do I blog? What are my goals? What do I hope to give or gain from the experience? These are not questions that are easily answered right now.

So what am I doing to get out of the rut? (That is what really matters.)

1. I am reading more. I am trying to draw inspiration from books, blogs, tweets… inside higher education, outside higher education… anything! In fact, I just bought “The Dip” in hopes it will help me pull out.

2. I am choosing to tweet less. Right now it is about listening.  And I don’t really care if that affects my Klout score.

3. I am writing this post. Because a friend told me a couple weeks ago that simply getting back in the habit of writing, even if it isn’t the most inspirational or fantastic writing I have ever done, can only lead to good things.

4. When a good idea strikes me, no matter the time of day, I am writing it down. And I will act on it. I have promised myself that.

5. I’m asking you for help.

What do you do when you are stuck in a rut?

Please inspire me.

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About Mallory Wood

Mallory Wood is a Vermont-based higher ed marketing professional with a passion for social media, web video, and event production. View all posts by Mallory Wood

25 responses to “Stuck in a rut.

  • Gina.Arlie

    Miss Mallory! I hope you are well. I love your post. Are there any new hobbies you have been thinking of starting? That always helps me in any kind of rut.

    Funny, I went into marketing too. Best of luck for your continued success (and a nice holiday season to boot).

    -GD

  • Lougan Bishop

    I know the feeling, by the time I get home, I don’t want to think about social media.

    • Mallory Wood

      I hear ya! I found that during my time at Saint Michael’s when I was on Facebook everyday for work, I completely stopped using it as a tool in my personal life. It has been nice to get back into Facebook to make connections with old classmates and family in the last few months.

  • Ed Cabellon

    Mallory,

    I’ve felt the same way you have over the last few months. I, too, have had less inspiration for writing and tweeting, and frankly it was because I was digitally exhausted and needed to find balance again.By stepping away from the online space, I found myself reading more, listening more attentively, and engaging people in conversations longer than a few minutes. 🙂

    Simply put, you give so much to the online community, its important (and necessary) to step away for a while and allow your mind to reset, as I don’t believe humans were originally wired to do ALL that we do in person and online.

    Blog when you have something to say (or teach), tweet what really matters to you, and continue to find balance. I know its helped me refocus and energized to connect online.

    Be well, and thanks for doing all that you do, we appreciate you!

  • bradjward

    It’s definitely a shift in the “vendor” world. You’re invested, you love your clients and the projects, but at the end of the day… THEY are managing the communities, updating the pages, pressing send on the emails. It’s refreshing to take a step back, but you’ll definitely miss it. And as you said in the comments, you’ll be able to regain the tools for your own use! 🙂

    My “step away” turned into a year, but I feel like I’m finally starting to understand where the balance should be and now I can start moving back towards that point.

    • Mallory Wood

      Excellent points, Brad. Thanks for responding.

      Finding balance is about knowing what (and who!) your priorities are. I am constantly striving to find better balance in my life – online and offline. It’s too bad that there isn’t a secret recipe for “achieving balance” or else I would have you share it! 😛

  • Rachel Reuben

    I think Brad’s on to something, though in my case it was a change in role and scope (not a shift to the vendor side). I’ve found I *can’t* blog about things I used to or wish I could. It’s a very different world in a private school than a public school, I learned pretty quickly. So, time was certainly a factor for me – and using my brain power in all kinds of ways I wasn’t before. It’s exhilarating, but so energy draining too, that in the few hours I’m not “on” at work, the last thing I want to do is blog or engage in intense professional-related conversations on Twitter.

    I used to be quite the extrovert, and in my recent MBTI assessment found I’m leaning towards the introverted side, which is a huge shift for me. I need those quiet recharging hours in the evening now!

    So – how do we get out of this rut? I’m honestly still there, so I haven’t found the right mix. I’ve tried a couple of different things, but it still comes down to the fact that my role has changed so significantly, I just don’t have the time I used to, and there are far more eyes on me. (I think 3/4 of the staff in my department, let alone other areas of the college, tweet – whereas there were two others at my former institution total.) I’d imagine you’re in a similar position — in your new role, you can’t actively tweet or blog about things you’re working on with your clients.

    Less tweeting, more listening isn’t a bad thing. It’s just different. A shift. I adore you and your energy, no matter if you’re blogging, tweeting or Facebooking. I always see you around somewhere, so I know you’re still an active, valued member of the community.

    • Mallory Wood

      I want to comment on a few things you said, because you jam-packed a lot of excellent points into your comment!

      First, (while I don’t think it is the only factor) changing positions and role is contributing to my need for discovering new topics to blog about. When I think about my past blog topics, they were all focused on projects I was engaged in. I’m no longer managing a Facebook page or creating videos each month. But I think there are an endless amount of blog posts that can draw from the experiences I am having in my new position, I just need to discover what they are! I’ve learned more in the last 3 months than I have ever learned at any job. 🙂

      Second, to the brain power comment, I HEAR YA! I am putting everything I have into being a marketing manager and when I get home I want to eat dinner, watch a little tv, check email, and go to bed. Like you, I find the evening hours perfect for recharging. Some of our higher ed pals (*cough* Seth Odell and others) seem to thrive on being busy, having tons to do, and working on 4000 side projects. I’m envious. I would burn out too quickly. But having learned that it not *me* is just as valuable.

      Third, I think the answer is wine. 😉

  • Content Writers

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  • Kyle Judah

    See Mal, you start blogging again and job offers pour into the inbox.

    I think Rachel hit the nail on the head – there’s a new world of perspective gained from the outside looking in, and some of that perspective is as a privileged spectator. It takes a while to adjust to seeing great things happening behind the scenes but not being able to say much publicly – believe me, it’s something I’m wrestling with at RecoVend on a daily basis. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to produce less and consume(or listen/read/etc) more online and offline, because as you see more of what’s going on, the truly important things will begin to stand out when previously they just got lost in the deluge from the firehose.

    Keep kicking ass, and the rest of us will just keep watching for the golden nuggets when the writing mood strikes

    • Mallory Wood

      And here I’ve been sitting saying to myself, “That Kyle Judah has it all figured out. Look at him tweeting away relevant tidbits of knowledge. I need to be more like him.”

      Seriously! You are always on point with your comments, tweets, etc and you seem to effortless weave social media into your life.

      It is reassuring to read your comments. (And everyone else’s.) Because we are all working to achieve balance, find our voice, and be relevant. I don’t think the search ever ends.

  • Travis Brock

    I am stuck in a rut too. I am riding the break from blogging. Taking a break is a good thing. I am starting to find blog topics that are inspiring me to write again. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a break and let the inspiration come back to you. And on a side note, be sure to nominate a higher ed marketing pro for 2011 International Brand Master bit.ly/tu2PWW.

  • Ma'ayan

    I hit a photographic rut sometime in early summer (which is terrible, because it’s my passion), and ended up setting up a weekly personal challenge for myself to get back into the habit of picking up my camera more often. It’s possible that a similar writing challenge (like your wise friend suggested) would help you pick up again. (And you don’t even have to show it to anyone.)

    Even if you don’t end up producing public work constantly, it will keep you creating.

  • andrewcareaga

    A lot of great responses here. I think sometimes you need to take a step back. I do that frequently — just search “hiatus” on my blog and you’ll see how many times I’ve posted “I’m going on hiatus” posts, as if anyone cares. 😉 And then sometimes you have to work through the dry spell and keep writing. My journalistic background kicks in. When I worked for a daily newspaper, I didn’t have time to be in a rut. I had deadlines to make. But we all (most of us) blog for the fun of it. When it isn’t fun anymore, you need to take a break.

    • Mallory Wood

      I do think that many of us in higher ed blog because it is fun and enjoyable, but when I launched my blog a year ago I set goals. There were (and still are) professional reasons for diving into the blogging world. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to achieve many of those goals in the past year. I think it is time to make a new list to guide me for 2012. 🙂

  • Eric Stoller

    Having just returned from an 8 day, totally unplugged vacation, I’m a tad bit late to the party, but I totally get what you’re saying/sharing Mallory. My personal blog has been my digital sandbox since 2004, but I’ve been so busy with work stuff that it’s been getting so dusty. My paid blogging gigs get most of my blogging energy these days. My biggest challenge is trying to write about things that get my heart pumping and energize my mind….while simultaneously keeping my consulting endeavors going. My advice: write about whatever you want to write about. Mix it up. I’ve written about all sorts of things on my personal site and it’s a reflection of me…it’s super refreshing and empowering to just create some prose that’s for you. It’s cathartic. Also, ruts are okay. They make you think about getting out of them…sometimes climbing out of them can make for some wonderfully insightful posts.

  • carrisaari

    Me, too. Rut Vegas.

    I need to be challenged. I am considering a return to school. It is more definitive than that. I have decided to go back to school, its a matter of when and where. That’s my goal for 2012- to have the details sorted out and something in process – either actively enrolled by Fall 2012 or at least have my grad school apps out by the fall 2012 deadline.

    I like deadlines, challenges, and opportunities to demonstrate new knowledge and skills. School is awesome for that.

    School is not for everyone. School is for me. I like school. I don’t have kids or a dog to rush home and feed or let out every night. Husband is fairly self-sufficient. I like learning. I have the inclination and the availability to study, so that is what I plan to do to depart Rutsville, USA.

    • Mallory Wood

      Rut Vegas, hehe. That is the affectionate term used for the town next to mine, Rutland. #random

      What a great goal! Deadlines always drive us to complete something. And I know you’ll find inspiration by learning something new. You’re lucky to know yourself so well and to realize this is just the thing to pull you out of Rutsville.

  • RB

    I’m currently in a huge rut too. Most of it deals with where I live and the distance between me and my network of friends and creative types. I’m finishing grad school next year and that’ll help some and work will get busier and that should keep my creative juices going because of what we’ll be doing and what it’ll require of me.

    But I think as far as the higher ed blog is concerned, I often feel like I have very little left to share or say and I don’t want to vent. So I’ve been trying to make it something broader, but I’m not sure how much sharing I feel like doing.

    I try to use these periods to read more and interact, rather than always write and look for feedback. So thanks for putting stuff out there.

    • Mallory Wood

      Ron – Thanks for the comment. Making sure to stay connected with family and friends is really important to emotional health. There are so many tools to stay connected that I think we occasionally forget the importance of connecting in real life and how good that makes us feel. I know I’m always at my best after I’ve spent time with people I care about. Perhaps the holiday season is just what we need. 🙂

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