Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Slumpin' It

I’ve been holding off on this post for awhile, just hoping things would get better.  Alas, it’s time I step up to the plate and announce:

I’m in a slump.                       A total writing slump.

I have an original premise.  I have a kind-of outline.  I have the first three pages (and have had the first three pages for the last eight weeks).  But I just can’t seem to… get into it.

Querying is going-*ahem* nowhere.

I don’t usually share stats but I can’t help but feel like its part of the problem.  I started querying my third book in late October.  So far I’ve sent out 68 queries,

wracked up 34 query rejections

7 requests for material

and 4 rejections of requested material

I’m tired.  I’m tired of waiting and hoping.  I’m tired of the high I get when I’m writing – thinking ‘no wait- THIS is the best thing I’ve ever written!’  and then the lows that come months later when I realize my best still isn’t good enough.

I know as bloggers, we aren’t supposed to complain or spread negativity around the blogosphere but dammit!  - heart break and deception pervade this god-forsaken process like a fart no one wants to admit they smell.   And if we can’t be real and just ask ‘who the hell farted?’, what can we do?

Has anyone else found themselves in a writing slump?  How long did the drought last?  What ways did you find of getting motivated and jumping back into the game?   How many metaphors did I just use in the last three sentences?


Gina Ciocca said...

Sometimes this process sucks and if we can't be honest about it, what the heck are we here for?

We've all been there- unless, of course, you're Stephenie Meyer and hit the effin' jackpot your first time out of the gate. I wish I'd known she was the exception and not the rule when I started trying to get published!

I'm also having a bit of writing stage fright. It's hard to power through when you're convinced you suck. But like the old cliche says, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, so you have to keep plugging. In the mean time we'll all back you up in saying THIS STINKS!!

Kristine Asselin said...

Give yourself permission to take a break! And, speaking from experience, keep querying when you get your breath back. You've had a good number of requests which means you're doing something right.

Everyone's journey to publication is different, but it is frustrating when it seems like it comes so easy to some. I started writing in 2005--I just signed with an agent, but it took 6 years. If you'd told me then it would take that long, I might have given up.

Don't give up!

Angela said...

I totally feel you. And for what it's worth, I love your blog. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is putting yourself and your work out into the world. Hang in there.

Stina said...

I was certain you'd have a lot of success on your book, Katie. I thought it was great, and I thought about it long after I finished reading it. Just remember how many agents Elana J queried before she found THE ONE. You're nowhere near that number yet.

I haven't queried as many as you have (I keep forgetting to send out queries), but my requests number is the same. However, with the exception of two, they've all been sucked up into the waiting zone. But unlike you, I'm not in a writing slump. I've almost forgotten about those requests while I focus on my new love (WIP), which I'm making sure if even stronger than the book I'm querying.

Maybe that's the difference. I've already moved on from the project I'm querying because I'm in love with something new. You're not in love yet, and that's why you're in a writing slump. *sends some anti-writing-slump fairy dust your way*

Laura Pauling said...

Katie - It is hard! And that's one thing I love about you - your honesty. I went through a major slump of discouragement when I realized I needed to shelve the project I was querying. I tried my best to write through it. Maybe the new project is as exciting to you as you think is is? Usually, eventually, a great idea will pull me out of the discouragement. Sometimes, it just takes time. But you are in a very normal place!

Nicole L Rivera said...

Thank you SOOOOO much for posting this. I am totally in the same place. I'm frustrated, but what am I going to do about it? Quit? Absolutely flipping no way! Maybe take a mental-health day. Go to a place (ahem, Starbucks) or watch a move (ahem, You've Got Mail) that inspires that naively ambitious writer within you. You can do it Katy! I love your story about the plane crash. That was some flipping good writing! Don't be discouraged! We need our Creepy Query Girl. (Now, I just need to repeat all of this to myself :)

Stay creepy.

Rebecca Bradley said...

I'm sitting right there with you in the middle of that big slump hole. Its not a great place to be sitting but just know you're not alone.

I think the suggestion to allow yourself a break is a good one. We can get ourselves into a vicious circle where we stress about not writing, which then hurts the creative procedure. Having a break may just give you the breather you need. I find doing lots of reading is helpful.

I hope the slump shifts soon.

Elena Solodow said...

The only thing you can ever go back to when you're in a slump is the writing itself. You will always be a writer, no matter what. If you're not feeling the new project you started, then maybe surprise yourself with something new. Most of all, don't put too much importance on anything when you start a new project. Try not to worry about what it will be come, but instead, enjoy the fact that you're writing.

Anne Gallagher said...

My query stats are disgusting. I had better results with my first book which was a total newbie disaster filled with every cliche and bad writing you could find.

I was lucky that I had something new to work on, and like Stina says, I was in love with it. I still am, but now I've hit the final third, cruising up to the climax and I've screwed up the plot line.

And as someone else said above, sometimes we just really need to take a break from our writing to refill our mental coffers of brilliance and writing excellence. When all the coffee is gone from the pot, what do you do? You rinse out the pot, and refill it.

That's what you need to do. My own gameplan for that usually involves yardwork or if it's raining, like now, cleaning closets, or washing down the kitchen from top to bottom. Depending on how bad of a slump I'm in, sometimes I even rearrange the furniture. Find whatever takes your mind away from your writing. You'd be surprised where inspiration can strike and whom you fall in love with.
Best to you.

Tracy said...

Whenever I get in the writing blues and don't know whether I have the oomph to keep going I've found the best thing is to take a short writing break and dive into reading.

No lie, nothing gets me more jazzed to sit down at my computer and muddle through a rough first draft that reading a story that rivets me. I read something great and I want to write something great. That's the way I roll at least.

Tracy said...

Whenever I get in the writing blues and don't know whether I have the oomph to keep going I've found the best thing is to take a short writing break and dive into reading.

No lie, nothing gets me more jazzed to sit down at my computer and muddle through a rough first draft that reading a story that rivets me. I read something great and I want to write something great. That's the way I roll at least.

Unknown said...

I get into slumps where my confidence is blown and I think I have used up all my ideas.

I do one of two things:

a) Stop. Just stop trying to write for a couple weeks. I won't even try and come up with ideas. This works.
b) Write the least ambitious piece I've ever attempted.

Anyway, even though it's no fun to be in a slump, I love reading about your ups and downs. Thanks for the food for thought...

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolyn Abiad said...

I'm going against the grain here...but why people keep moving on to a new project is beyond me. (You might ask me this question in a couple months and get a different answer.) Rejection is a kick in the rear, but go back to the manuscript and see what you could do differently. (After reading a bunch, like Tracy said.) We tweak the query all the time, why not tweak the manuscript too?

Carolyn Abiad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Hoffine said...

A slump. I'll up your slump and say I'm in the pits.

Right now, mine has more to do with life in general, but I've always found it hard to keep writing while waiting on submission too. Have you gotten any helpful feedback from the rejections? Sometimes revising to be more ready for the next request helps.

And don't worry about the number of rejections, many successful writers rack up hundreds of rejections on multiple books before they get an agent.

As for your new project, are there any future scenes you're really looking forward to writing? You could write it/them, so you can delve into the story more. They may need a lot of revising later, but I find that's a good way to jolt myself out of first gear on a story.

Erica Mitchell said...

It's okay to take a break. There are times we can push through the slump and write something brilliant but let's face it, half the time the push+no inpiration= a lot of editing and backspacing. I had a four month slump. What helped me...the four months I took off. I came back fresh and ready to work. I think sometimes we feel like if we stop writing we wont be able to find that groove again, it will be difficult to start up and be amazing. BUT, I found for me, that was the opposite. My break was awesome. And I stopped hating myself for not producing work.

Erica Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

Oh Katie, giant hugs from me to you! Honestly, I think we need to be open about our struggles. It isn't negative if you need support. If we're open about the struggles, it makes our triumphs that much more profound and exciting!

I've been in writing slumps before (and am in one right now...have been since November, though a part of that is because of school). just need to step back and allow yourself a total break in order to move forward and come back, stronger then ever.

Sean Thomas Fisher said...

Boy, have I been there! My query stats make the Cleveland Cavaliers look good.

But you should check out the built in query designer on the new Kindle. I blogged about it today and wow, it works wonders. Made a new man out of me and I don't even have one yet.

Matthew MacNish said...

I've had two big slumps since I started, but only one of them was really major. The first was when I almost gave up, right before I started blogging. That one was major.

The second was last November and December. I was having a great time blogging, and was connecting with all kinds of awesome people, but I couldn't get motivated to revise my novel. I didn't write (or re-write) a word for almost two months.

I don't know what to tell you as far as how I got through it. I just kind of waited it out, focused on other things, and eventually the inspiration came back.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I often have slumps. I'll have a period when I'll write 50k in a month (and not just in November) and then I'll have two months when I'll hardly write. With me, it's feast or famine. You'll get through it. Maybe you need to work on something else. Maybe you just need a break. But you'll get through it.

Suzie F. said...

It's soooo hard when you're in a slump, Katie. I know it's a scary place to be in, but give it time.

I went through my own slump in November/December. Instead of stressing too much over it, I decided to focus on the holidays and my family. When I came back to my WiP in January, I still loved the story and was able write a few more chapters. Now that I've reached the middle, I'm struggling again (just wrote a blog post about it), but I'm determined to write through it.

Hang in there. Releasing that fear and uncertainty is a huge a step, and we're here to support you. If you love writing which I know you do, you'll get through it. *hugs*

K M Kelly said...

Oh Katie - I know how you feel. The constant rollercoaster of submission and rejection can really get to you. But each knock makes you stronger. Remember that.

Once thing I found helpful whenever I was feeling down was the support of my fellow writers. You just have to read the other comments on here to see what I mean.

But I also belong to an online writers colony called Litopia. I find it invaluable. High quality critique from published writers as well as a great support network whenever I was getting down - not to mention feedback on your submission from a real live agent! I've even met some of the Litopians in the real world - weird.

If you aren't already a member of a writing group or forum then do check them out. You might be pleasantly surprised.

J.L. Campbell said...

I got a few hundred words written about a week ago, but haven't written anything since. And those words took months to come. Writers are a persistent lot, but these slumps do come. Don't have a feel-good solution for you, but I know that if I wait long enough I get new energy soon enough Good luck with the stuff you still have out there and keep plugging away. Your break will come.

Old Kitty said...

:-( I;m so sorry!! I am full of awe and admiration for you fab writers even getting to the query stage - means your books are well and truly at a much higher level than my scribblings and to get there shows just how amazingly passionate and dedicated you all are!!! I really don't know what else to say but to always, always, always perservere. I'm not kidding when I say that most writers I know who are published have taken YEARS to get where they are. YEARS. It's a long, long, long haul. I wish it weren't but it is. And only the most determined and the most hardiest make it. I've witnessed this happen, but happen it does!! I'm sounding like Yoda now!! LOL!!! Seriously - hang on in there - and of course vent your frustration as much and as long as you want!!!!! That's just being normal!!!

Take care

Unknown said...

:( I'm sad that your sad. I've been there it isn't a nice place. Take your time to decide what you want to focus on. I hope you'll decide to dig in and climb again. Thinking of you.

LTM said...

Ding! There. I'm not writing at all, focusing on querying, but the lojinks that have been going on w/R&R requests on me since Nov have been getting me down.

What do I do... what do we do? I'm thinking I have to get my head back on straight. Remember what I love (the creative writing process), focus on that, breathe deeply and remember this is a marathon not a sprint. ((big hug)) here's to our emerging from the funkitude~ <3

Unknown said...

I kind of have that, yes. You're so happy in your work and then you realize, others are better and yours is good but not that good.

It's okay to write this post. You have done it in a very cunning way, not actually spreading, but more asking and pleading. I really like to hear how other writer's struggle with the same things I have to deal with. We're not alone and that's good to know.
Nahno ∗ McLein

randine said...

I do know that feeling.
Lately I haven't been writing much, ehm- OK, actually at all. At first I felt bad about that. I felt like I SHOULD be writing. But then I remembered how we learned in nursing school this stupid ass saying "don't 'should' on yourself and don't 'must-erbate'. Yes, these are actually things they taught us in nursing school.

So I've embraced my writing slump and have spent more time reading and doing other fun things, with the thought that once I'm ready to write again I'll do it more zealously than before.
I don't know. I can rationalize just about anything.

dolorah said...

"heart break and deception pervade this god-forsaken process like a fart no one wants to admit they smell."

See how creative you are? (lol)

Yep, I wrote the first 2500 words of a fantasy novel that rocked my imagination - for all of about, 2500 words. My crit group loved it and constantly badgers me for more.

Er, yes . .

I've moved on to a couple other projects - took a lot of work to create those and get interested, there's this derned fantasy that keeps poking its nose in my writing - but, at least I don't feel blocked.

I need to query what I've already written more but - hey look, a convenient distraction :)

Good luck Katie. I know you'll pull out of this soon. Just take a look at your own Can-Do picture and you'll be inspired. I know I am when I see all that energy bursting to creat something wonderous.


Ricky Bush said...

Yep, slumps do stink. I just plug a microphone into my amplifier and blow the hell out of some blues on my harmonica. Doesn't always work, but I do get better at playing the blues harp.

Christopher said...

It happens. Go live, have fun! It helps.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

You're so right with this post, and I can totally relate. But here's the thing: eat some chocolate, read some books, and get back to work. That's all we can do, right? Write. :D

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, hon, I'm so sorry. I feel like I have been in a bit of a slump too, but think of it this way... it is a bit like when the lotion has that crusty thing... you have to get THAT out before the stuff will start flowing again. You HAVE TO write through it. If you can't bring yourself to write on the WiP because you know what is coming out will be crusty and gross, then write a short story (or WRITE on the WiP knowing you will catch it in the edit). I swear if you write daily even though you aren't feeling it, one day soon it will be flowing again.

Lenny Lee said...

hi miss katie! im sorry you got in that slump. its sorta like when a baseball player get in that slump. the harder he tries and the more upset he gets the worse it gets. you just gotta not make it worry you and just do your every day stuff and all of a sudden youll get unslumped.
...hugs from lenny

Angela Scott said...

Katie, I love you! You crack me up. Yeah, we're not supposed to talk about it. We're supposed to go about our day s if everything is just peachy. Rejections suck. I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster ride--Monday:Yippee, I made it through the first round of a contest. I don't suck. Tuesday: Agent (who continually reminds me that though she likes my book, it probably will never be published, but's willing to give it a well played try) forwards email from another editor who says basically, they think my voice is too simple and must reject it. I'm back to sucking.

I hate it. This whole process is a big stinky fart. I have a WIP that is one chapter away from being a complted first draft--BUT has been in this same status for almost two months. I'm in a funk.

Hang in there. What else can we do, right? The thought of not writing doesn't seem like a possibility. I have to write. I just do. Hopefully I can get my mo-jo back.

Touch of Ink said...

My longest writing slump lasted years. I'm not sure how many, but I think it was more than 5.

In my defence, I had a lot of other things going on (my marriage was ending, among other things).

Slumps happen. Somedays I just don't feel like writing. But I promise you, you'll hate yourself more if you don't write.

Set aside 20 minutes a day and do timed writing, or do research about your book and write notes or whatever. (The book "The Weekend Novelist" has some great info about this.)

Eventually you teach your brain not to be in slump.

It's good advice. I wish I'd taken it years ago.

Unknown said...

Hi Katie,
I feel your pain about sending out SO many queries letters and then...nothing. :( Have you sent directly to publishers? I just sent my book to TLT Publishing (a newer pub company that is AMAZING) who announced they were accepting submissions with or without an agent. I submitted mine and they accepted it! :) :) I'd encourage you to do the same.
Have a great day!
-Melissa Buell

Jolene Perry said...

Wow. Our numbers are EXACTLY the same. Almost. I've sent out ten less queries, and gotten one less call back for more. Madness, isn't it?


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