Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writer's Slump

I don't have writer's block. If need be, I can sit down and write something. Aren't I doing it now? Well, I didn't say I could write something of value, just something. However, I have been working on the final cleanup of a novel I've been penning for the past six years, getting it ready for publication. You know how that goes: a tag line, a blurb, another tag line, a better blurb, a tag line that might make someone want to pick up the book and read it, a blurb that makes sense. Daunting.
Then there's the cover, back cover, the spine - and I'm glad something's got one - because my spine has turned to jelly.
What happens is after maybe 45-minutes of doing this and that on this project, I'm shot for the day. I don't want to go back to the draft of the 3rd book of the Persephone Cole series and get Percy out of the kitchen. I'm okay with leaving her there, gaining weight, not getting anything done on her latest case, because I am unwilling to switch gears from my stand alone mystery noir back to the Persephone Cole series.
This is unlike me. I usually like to juggle 2 to 4 writing projects at the same time. Helps to keep me from getting writer's block. I am now wearing that block around my neck. See albatross below and to the right.

I'm feeling overwhelmed. Lethargic.
Doesn't that closet need to be cleaned out? You know, you've really been neglecting the cats. Grab that toy and go play with them. Go kiss your husband, go take your shoes to be re shod, go to blue blazes, but whatever you do, Heather Haven, don't get any writing done.

Big sigh.

Okay, I'm done grousing. After I come back from the post office, I really have to get back to my writing. I really, really do.

18 comments:

Roseanne Dowell said...

I have the same problem. I am in the middle of one that I've been working on for several years, got blocked and started rewriting another. Between Fall cleaning and promotion and catching up on emails, I've not written a word and I'm stuck on both of them.

Edith Parzefall said...

I know the feeling, Heather, except I don't like to work on several writing projects at the same time.

It's end of September already and I still haven't started on that new novel based on an idea I had back in February. Too much going on with the release of three books scheduled throughout the year. Maybe in December...

Margaret Fieland said...

Heather, I can *so* relate.

Margaret, off to rake leaves...

S. Durham Author said...

LOL, I'm at the last 20-30K of my 2 year novel, and what am I doing? I'm here reading your blog:) But I'm glad I did, because now I'm going to go tackle that puppy right now! Love your blog and the inspiration you share.

Warmly,

Sara

Heather Haven said...

Thank you, ladies. This helps enormously. I don't feel quite so alone. I'm going to open the file of Percy and see what I come up with. Wish me luck!

Joan Hall Hovey said...

I think we can all relate, Heather. I know sometimes I feel like I'm slogging through molasses trying to finish the new book. Great blog. Makes us feel we're not alone. But we shall overcome. -:)

Joan

Ann Herrick said...

A writing slump can definitely prompt some of the most energetic housecleaning, so I guess that is the silver lining. :D

You'll get back to that writing soon, I'm sure! Good luck!

Heather Haven said...

Okay, feeling better. Slump lifting. Stopped painting my kitchen. No kidding. Stopped painting the kitchen.

Brandi Schmidt said...

I totally feal your pain! I think we all have those moments. Take a break and you will get it back....maybe some wine will help...lol

Jim Hartley said...

I know what you mean. I had the first 12000 words of a novel sitting on my computer, untouched through much of July, all of August, and the first part of September. Just getting back into it now. I think one of the worst drawbacks of doing your writing on a computer is all those games that are also on that same computer ...

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Wonderful blog. Knowing you're not alone is comforting. But painting the kitchen?

Happy writing,
Kathy

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Heather,
Great blog. At least I know I am not the only one.

cheers

Margaret

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hey Heather,

We all go through times like these. One thing you might ask yourself - why are you avoiding your WIP? Is there something about either book that's making you uncomfortable? I sometimes find myself reluctant to go back to work on something because I know there's a scene coming up that's going to be hard to write. Or maybe I know there's some unresolved plot issue and I really don't want to think about it. Etc.

Good luck! As you can see, you're not alone!

Wendy said...

Hi Heather,
It sounds like we are all real 'writers'. I'll bet none has come to the end of their career without such a slump. But please inspire me Heather. You did open that file and begin to type, didn't you?

Not that I'm admitting anything but I must agree with Jim, Free Cell and Solitare are disasterous to the writer in a slump.

btw in the past 2 weeks I knitted my husband a cardigan, cleaned the house for visitors, entertained. saw tqwo movies and wrote...not a word. I guess that's called 'living'.

Heather Haven said...

Wendy, I did open the file and begin to write! Chapter One sucks, but by gawd, it's done! So, let's both be inspired.
I think I was going at it so hot and heavy the entire summer trying to get the Halloween Percy Cole done, I sort of burnt myself out. In any event, unless I have to, I won't be writing 15 hours a day for awhile. I'd rather play with the cats and paint my kitchen somewhere in there. So glad to know we all go thru this. happy writing, one and all!

JL Walters said...


Wish you luck and to get out of the slump. I've generally been fortunate after the one I had many many years ago when I stopped writing for about ten years. Wasn't a block, just exhaustion from working 13 hour shifts as a nurse.

Terri Main said...

This will happen with any job. That's right I used the "J" word. Writing is a job. Like any job, there are those moments of extreme ectasy when you are in the zone doing everything perfectly. Then there are other moments when you are just plugging away.

Our problem is that we don't think realistically about writing. We expect to have some mythical creature called The Muse fluttering around moving our hands across the paper and feeding up ambrosia from the hearth of Olympus.

Sometimes it is like that. Sometimes it is drugery. Sometimes the best writing even comes when you drag yourself to the desk (or in my case the recliner) and plug away even when you don't feel like it.

Now, there are some things that I find help. First, taking breaks. Most research shows that the maximum time someone can focus intently on intellectual activity is about 20 minutes. I set a timer on my computer called Workrave for about 20 minutes. When it goes off, I take a few minutes to stretch, get some tea or water, surf the web or check Facebook. Anything that doesn't require me to think too hard.

Second thing I do is switch projects. I always try to have several projects going at once. When my excitement wanes for one, I give it a rest.

Third, I remind myself that there is writing, and writing related activities. Writing is what I do when I'm caught in the frenzy of composing the story, following my sleuths as they interview suspect, dodge bullets or whatever. Writing related activities are editing, marketing, blurb writing, etc. They are just the jobs you have to do. Put into context, there's playing with a baby and changing his diapers. To raise a child you have to do both. One is more enjoyable than the other, but eventually you will have shunted away the memories of stinky diapers and retain the memories of joyful times with your child.

The same goes for your novel. You will work through the slump, but eventually when you see the book finished and offered for sale, you know that it was all worth while.

Heather Haven said...

Well said, Terri! And of course, you're right. it is a job. Thanks for the sage reminder!