Eugene Cho

i am in a funk…

I am in a funk.

And I must apparently go through a funk once or twice every year.

For various reasons, I’m just having a hard time being “productive. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve been wanting to blog about but as you know, I haven’t been writing anything substantive in the past couple weeks. In fact, I’ve been pretty silent.

Why am I in a writer’s funk?

I’m tired

And because I have limited energy, I’ve had to save it for my family, preaching, counseling, and a few projects…

Writer’s block

I’m not sure what writer’s block is but I can’t seem to translate the many ideas to something cohesive. I’ve actually had an article due for some magazine recently and it was amazingly laborious to put together 3000 words. That must have been writer’s block.

Over Multi-tasking

I used to thrive in being a multi-tasker but I’m wondering if everyone has a limit and if I may have passed that threshold of effectiveness.

Weary of criticism and misunderstanding

I know this sounds weird but after receiving my share of criticism and weird emails, it just feels better to chill. I really have a growing appreciation of ANYONE that puts there stuff – words, songs, art, sermons, books, thoughts, blogs, or whatever – out there for others to engage.

So, what do you do when you’re in a funk?

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53 Responses

  1. jchenwa says:

    Take a break, do all the stuff that makes me happy. :)

  2. Jason says:

    Try reading, watching, or listening to stuff that inspires you. If this does not work I try writing my thoughts on some current event. Then I try prompts.

  3. dmbaldwin says:

    Bobb Biehl says that fatigue makes cowards of us all. He encourages people in this situation to get as much sleep as possible. Sleep in, go to be early, take naps! That’s what I’ve done. Then the critical emails/communications won’t seem so bad.
    And on that note, I have found nothing on your blog or what you have said in public that would lead me to criticize what you are doing to serve Jesus, so don’t grow weary in well doing my Brother!
    Blessings,
    Dave

  4. Tracey says:

    God 1st, Your Wife 2nd, Your Children 3rd, everyone/everything else comes after. Save your time and energy for the top 3.

    Sometimes it helps to get rid of one or a few of the tasks that you’re multi-ing! Because sometimes just the thought of having them on your to do list is exhausting. Having a blog doesn’t mean it’s expected of you to write every day. When it’s right to write, you’ll know. Give your followers a heads up to expect fewer posts, no big deal. Lead people to your church website for spiritual guidance.

    You are a blessing Pastor Eugene. I’m so glad to have met you at Sanctuary Covenant in Minneapolis. Get some rest and have a blessed day :)

    • I know this is going to sound somewhat heretical but I don’t believe in that hierarchy anymore. Many Christians use it to say that “ministry” (and all the work that comes with just that one word) is God’s work so it comes first, at the expense of self and loved ones. Our selves and our family is our first place of ministry and God is totally honored through that. We cannot give out out of emptiness. I may be mis-reading your comment, but just wanted to add a follow-up thought to it.

  5. abbiewatters says:

    Try not to feel like you are writing for someone else. A blog (unless it is a blatant marketing attempt) is your own personal diary. If you want to write about being unable to write – knock yourself out. Beaudelaire’s best poetry was about him thinking he was a worthless poet. It’s helpful sometimes to other people to understand that you, as a silver-tongued devil, sometimes write with a lead pencil.

  6. TIC says:

    Exercise! That is the best thing for me. Get those endorphins flowing, work off the stress, clear your head. Sometimes I like taking a run through a big park without headphones. Just me and my thoughts. Otherwise, meet with someone who inspires you and just hang out and chat. I met with someone who inspires me and I went home and read a book of John Owen’s.

  7. Steve S. says:

    I heard a scholar/author once remark, after being asked when he was going to write again, that he ‘had to get pregnant first.’ It made me laugh, but made lots of sense too…

  8. John says:

    Eat more Korean food. That always helps for me.
    : )

  9. your friend says:

    I am a person who is very hard on myself. But I am learning to just BE before the LORD. I noticed that God is often behind such a funk-period, in order to let me rest at His chest and just get satisfied with HIM. Not doing. Just being. Enjoying HIM.

    BEING is so much harder than DOING (and I do not say this lightly) But I have noticed how it fills me with pure satisfaction to be in God’s presence and not multi-tasking other things on the side, even not in my head…

    The depth of joy, peace and security I gained from just being with Him has been amazing. I fell in love with Jesus all over again!

  10. tom.fullmer says:

    Maybe this will help :)

  11. Tony Lin says:

    There’s a bug going around… it’s called World Cup Fever. It causes writer block as well as all types of productivity blocks. It’s ok. You’ll be better after July 11.

  12. BarbE says:

    Go fill yourself up, with that which fires your heart. An empty cup cannot splash on others. Listening fills me up when the words/ideas/creativity is silent.
    You are a fountain to many of us!

  13. Mike says:

    I just read a great book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It goes through the plethora of self-talk and excuses we use when we are resisting our creativity. I checked it out from the library, but am going to need to get one for my library. It was an excellent and insightful book that you might find helpful.

  14. Marlow says:

    And…its freaking June in Seattle. Impossible to get ANYTHING done. Wish I was “chilling” with you bro!

  15. Recently I have latched onto the idea of simplicity. Everything can be streamlined, trimmed down, or thrown out.

    Keeping my main priorities the main priorities, eliminates a lot of needless “overdoing.”

    And in simplicity comes creativity.

  16. Steve Osborn says:

    Thank you, Eugene, for sharing this. I am in the same funk…working every day and helping the least of these, and responding to natural disasters here in Guatemala, yet I am exhausted spiritually and feeling in a deep funk.

    I think I out ran my times with the Lord, and was coasting on grace, and now find myself empty. I think I need to get back to the disciplines of grace…reading meditatively, and listening to my Lord. But it is the middle of the “Teams season” here…AND the world cup is on during the day…when I am interpreting and coordinating…wishing I could figure out how to get Tivo here…

    Then I think of the people who have lost everything in the last two weeks here…and remember that I am so blessed…which does not raise the funk, but deepens the guilt over the funk.

    Wretched man that I am!!!! Who will save me from this body of death???

    Thanks for sharing…you sort of scraped off a scab.

  17. E. says:

    pray? i’ll be praying for you. :]

  18. Alphonse Demi says:

    Remember “HALT” , (Hungry, angry, lonely and tired). Anyone of these can affect us and give us a skewed view of this moment in our life. No need to romanticize the Blahs. In these states of mind I usually tend to slow down to a crawl (read non-driven) …….. find myself reaching out to strangers at the supermarket or starbucks to hear their family stories. It touches me deeply that these folks are open to receiving from and sharing encouragement to a stranger. This is an alternative to reading ( “Daily Strength for Daily Needs” ) as Mary Tilestone phrased her 160+ year old book. Thank you Eugene Cho for your nourishing comments. Peace with your family i will pray for your ministry tonight at bedtime. —Alphonse Demi ( http://twitter.com/Breathelove

  19. Larry says:

    Eugene Thanks for this post.
    coincidentaly I have been in a funk myself lately. All but the last of the reasons you gave for being in a Funk fit with why I am now and why I every so often have one. Though I am always wary of what I write on my blog.
    So, I relate. So, what do I do? I let it be. I take stabs now and then at the ideas that I think I’d like to put out there, I focus on being a pastor, prior, husband, friend and artist. For me my blog emerges out of those lived experiences and interactions with people on a day to day basis. At times I simply blog about blogging, which is kind of what this post was.

    Also this is the first time I have come across another blogger articulate something I find happening on a regular and periodic basis. Also, sometimes I have to admit that all the creative energy I have is for writing a sermon. I wish that wasn’t so but it helps to know ones limits.

  20. A Forest Creature says:

    Im in one also. I do 4 things: 1) diligence about the things that help produce health, happiness and sparks like play with kids or kittens (easy to let those things go when in a funk, which makes ye old funk worsen fast). 2) Wait/rest. 3) Sometimes take off for an extreme experience which can phase shift everything & put you in a whole different head space. 4) contemplate how people deal with a funk in circumstances like starving in an African slum with sewage running in front of their shack. Haven’t determined yet if the last one helps or makes the funk worse.

    The greatest thing about all of this is that it seems to be slowly becoming socially normal for people to be human beings again. 20 years ago, no one could talk about this and if you had a funk, there was something wrong with you and you needed medication or were immediately referred to a psychologist and thought of as disturbed. It has a very long way to go (especially the Northwest US) to get to where most countries outtside of the US already are, but the US mentality is gradually softening and improving and posts like this are helping help.

    So I am not referring you to a counsellor or a psychiatrist or even saying you need to exercise more…. instead, congrats on being a normal human being.

  21. [...] Creature Eugene Cho, a blogger and pastor I know from Seattle, posted to the internet that he is in a funk, asking for [...]

  22. reJoyce says:

    When I am in a “funk”, I try to remember that it’s just a part of life. As A Forrest Creature says, it’s part of being a normal human being. Times when we are not as productive or can’t seem to summon much oomph for anything are a good reminder to slow down a bit and reassess. As if God is reminding us to deal with something that has happened or refocus or maybe just take a nap and rest.

    This, too, shall pass.

  23. Andy says:

    Hey Eugene,

    I’ve been there…too many times to count. I agree, in part with the suggestion to get some exercise. Sometime connecting with the family helps me too but sometimes I just need to be silent for a period. Sometimes I also get lost for a few hours in photography. Maybe the bottom line is to somehow get perspective so that all the stuff that engages you is put into the larger picture of what God is doing and it is not so contingent on your doing, your mood, your immediate circumstances.

    Here is a thought from my retreat that I took last month on the need for silence: http://ericsblog.org/andres/?p=419

    Just so you know, you hit a home run last week in church. May God’s presence sustain you in this funk.

  24. A Forest Creature says:

    I just blogged about the whole issue and some related reflections myself http://aforestcreature2.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/a-different-kind-of-global-warming-melting-the-ice-barrier/

  25. When I get writers block I try and forget about writing. Sometimes I think us bloggers try too hard :) I put my pen and paper in the drawer and I go and read a book, or the Bible.

    I find that by focusing on reading, rather than writing, I seek God for inspiration. Rather than trying to produce that information myself, I sit and allow myself to be refreshed and inspired by others.

    Let the inspiration come naturally. Because those are the best blogs to read, in my opinion :)

  26. [...] my wife, is not perfect as well. We have shared some of our mistakes in our marriage. I share about my funk. But having said all of this, we love one another and live by grace within the covenant of [...]

  27. [...] Eugene Cho wrote the other day about being a writer’s funk.  I can relate. [...]

  28. David says:

    I know what that feels like man. Fully frustrating. I’ve found that time heals all. I pray that it passes for you soon my friend. I enjoy hearing your thoughts and what you’re learning.

  29. Erick says:

    As for “over multi-tasking” I just showed and talked with my SH students about “shells” by Rob Bell…talks about Jesus willing one thing. Good perspective and example from our God.

  30. Bill B says:

    I would say to step back and take a break. I appreciate what you blog, but this is an ‘extra’ and you shouldn’t feel any obligation. Family and your church are your priorities.

    I recommend an ice cream sundae with all the fixings every 4 hours. Continue taking until the funk has passed or there are no more notches in your belt. :)

  31. Rob Morris says:

    The amazing Tom Waits describes it best:

    “I’ve been riding on the crest of a slump lately.”-Tom Waits

  32. When I’m in a funk, I just stop DOING. It’s not intentional – I just cannot do anything, for lack of motivation. This is impractical for married folks with children; but I’m single w/ no kids so I can get away with it. :) I think the most important thing to do is let yourself BE as much as you can. Pay attention to what’s going on internally. What is bringing you to this place of death? Reflection and honesty with self really helps me to accept my current condition. Thankfully, the funk passes and I’m able to embrace life again. But I think it’s important to accept ourselves in our funk. We’re human. It’s okay to be in a funk. I don’t think I’ve ever said funk so much in one paragraph before.

  33. Rachel says:

    Eugene – You are not alone. The entire month of March was a funk for me! And all I could do was ask God to hold on.

    http://mothersmementos.blogspot.com/2011/03/walk-on-water.html

  34. Rachel says:

    Funny, I read this again and I realize the funk you’re talking about is writer’s block! I don’t think we should force ourselves to come up with material just for the sake of writing anything. It’ll come. And yes – criticism is hard to take. But as long as we strive to honor the One, that’s all that matters.

  35. isaac chong says:

    I usually just kill a few hours reading a book that I really like (a la Blue Like Jazz) or just spend time with people that recharge me. =) Everyone needs a Sabbath.

  36. debi says:

    Well, I love reading your blog. A fresh cup of water in a world in such a mess. A funk? You’re allowed. Just part of this journey, and He doesn’t waste a thing…looking forward to your post-funk post. But , take your time and let yourself off that hook. Embrace the journey, even the funk. The critics? It’s just blah blah blah…did I say that? Yep, I did ;) ;)

  37. I have no answer for you. Just know that I sit with you in this space.

  38. Kayce says:

    Thank you for coming to Jim Johnson (Northwestern College, MN) class. I was the Asian girl that sat behind the other Asian girl, LOL. I really admire your wisdom and I pray that you will continue to run the race that is set before you.

  39. teresa says:

    Trying to learn that there is a time to speak, a time to listen, a time to write and a time to wait….sometimes when I feel like the bread dough that’s been kneaded and pummelled, I try to allow a time of being covered in a warm place and rising to potential usefulness again….waiting patiently is another story!

  40. Jamie says:

    one option is to google “in a funk” and see what comes up. that’s literally what i just did and it led me to your website. haha

    this might seem cheesy but i remember reading about Leonardo daVinci’s value of the 5 senses. when i get “in a funk” i start by just becoming more aware of my sense of sight, smell, touch, etc. or i’ll take a walk and just listen to everything around me. it really sparks my creativity.

  41. charlestlee says:

    Hey Eugene…come visit me in LA :)

  42. [...] on this tropical island…a great remedy to a recent bout with funk. And some intentional life-giving spirituality of sabbath and quality time with Minhee and the [...]

  43. [...] The consequence — if we don’t care well for ourselves — is that you can get in a funk. [...]

  44. Jasper says:

    One thing that happens when I am in a funk is the Lord sends me on these wild missions around the world to correct fallen churches or pastors preaching false teachings or inadequate gospels. Somehow you can get used even in the worst possible despair.

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