Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: Slow Writing Month

December has been my least productive writing month in years (literally three years). I'm hoping that this is just because the months before were so busy and suspenseful that I just needed a break. I'm worried that what it really means is that I've burned myself out, pushing too hard. Of course, I guess both of those could be true…which leaves me hope that I'll recover soon. 

In the meantime, it's left me feeling…a little (okay, a lot) insecure. 

Back in November, I was writing about having to do an Rand R (revise and resubmit) for Face the Change, the third of the Menopausal Superhero novels. I turned it in on November 30, and I waited…and waited…and waited. The stress was intense. I tried not to let myself focus on it, but dang it was hard, just not knowing. I knew if this submission wasn't accepted I'd lose my 2017 publication date, and I felt like that would be a total career-ending disaster (though of course it wouldn't have been). 


Really it was only three weeks, which is not that long at all in publishing. Heck, I've waited longer than that for a "we have received your submission" from some folks. 

Finally! on the first night of Chanukah, I got my acceptance and contract offer.  I hadn't realized how much I had been holding my breath until then. I'm still not sure I'm really breathing right. 

My first two novels were accepted as submitted, so being asked for an R&R really shook my confidence. Even though I took the critique to heart and recognized the validity of it, even though I worked hard and felt that the book I turned in after revision was a much stronger book, that little demon of doubt had gotten a claw under my skin. I feel like I revealed my pride to the universe and got a cosmic smackdown for overconfidence. 

And I haven't really written anything in December. I've played with a short story, and journaled and blogged. But the only things I've finished this month have been two pieces of flash fiction. 

That's definitely not up to my usual productivity standards. And now it's like the crying cycle, where you get mad at yourself for crying which then makes you cry in an endless loop of anger and crying, except the loop is self-recrimination, doubt, and continued non-productivity. GRRRRRR. 

Would love to hear what others have done to pull themselves back up when they feel like they've lost the flow, the mojo, the groove, or whatever it is you call this thing. 
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If you're not already following #IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group), you should really check it out. The monthly blog hop is a panoply of insight into the writing life at all stages of hobby and career. Search the hashtag in your favorite social media venue and you'll find something interesting on the first Wednesday of every month.

Be sure and check out this month's co-hosts, too: Eva @ Lillicasplace Crystal Collier Sheena-kay Graham Chemist Ken
LG Keltner Heather Gardner

This month's question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

The vomit draft. I know this works for a lot of people: to just push through and write and write, keeping going even when the stuff on the page doesn't make any sense and you can tell it's contradictory crap. 

It doesn't work for me. I write and edit at the same time. I go back and change things and then pull that thread forward now rather than waiting to get to "the end" and then going back for that stuff. When I've tried to write a vomit draft, I lose interest in the project. 

I know that my way is probably less efficient because I might rewrite something several times as the project twists and turns on me, but hurtling towards the end when I know the scaffolding doesn't lead there just leaves me depressed by the amount of work I'll be facing to make any sense of it. Even though I'm not an outliner, I'm not quite that free a panster either. I think I ruined one novel idea trying to force myself to do a vomit draft of it. That one may never get written now. 



20 comments:

  1. December was hard for me. I was not productive in the least. I was struggling with a lot physically and mentally.

    Hang in there! Revising and resubmitting sounds awful and can be tough, but it's also good. It means there's promise and hope. That's more than many writers receive when they just get flat-out rejections. :\

    I have to edit as I go.

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    1. I know December is hard in and of itself, between winter and holidays and family, even without writing stress. I'm glad we both survived!

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  2. I often edit as I go, too. Sometimes, I just have an idea of how to improve a scene already in existence, and I want to get it all down before I forget.

    And yeah, the crying cycle is definitely not a good place to be. I feel like I lost my mojo a long time ago, but I just keep on writing, hoping that it'll find its way back eventually.

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    1. We're both sisters of Dory, I guess. "Just keep swimming!"

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  3. Sorry to hear of your struggles, Samantha, but congrats on getting another book accepted!

    I think it's perfectly normal not to write that much--or at all--in December. Most of the industry grinds to a halt. I take that month off, as do a lot of other writers I know. There's just too much holiday stuff going on.

    To get back in the groove, I force it. I know the first writing session after a break is not going to be much fun, but I sit in front of the computer and try my best for two hours, and then do it again the following day. It's not sexy, but it works.

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    1. I think you're right. Just do it really is the only through. But dang that's hard sometimes!

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    2. I know. Ask yourself if you can just open the manuscript. Then, later, can you write just one sentence? Can you write another? Before you know it, you'll be back at it, but the pressure is a killer.

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  4. Rough going. That's when I take a break or write something just for fun.

    I hear you about the wasted draft. That's why I don't bother with NaNo. I learned the hard way that it doesn't work for me.

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    1. Yeah. NaNo both does and doesn't help me. It can be good for getting around my inner editor long enough to get a good start, but once I "know what I'm doing" I want to go back and fix things.

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  5. I didn't get much done in December due to the holidays, but I've had that feeling before. Mostly, I just sucked it up and made myself work,

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    1. Here's hoping that eventually works for me, too.

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  6. I allow myself to take some time off in December. Then come back hopefully refreshed and ready to go after the holidays. It that doesn't work, I go for very long hikes. When my body is exhausted it seems to jumpstart my brain!

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    1. I have considered that . . .but I have this long chain of writing days and I hate to break it. But maybe I should schedule a break in December in that I only write no pressure, for fun stuff.

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  7. December? Productive? Surely you never expected that. I'm glad to hear that your patience was rewarded--waiting for that sort of news sucks. Like you, I'm a semi-plotter, returning again and again to my plot outline to readjust as new developments--er--develop. May January bring you more writing time and clarity.

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    1. I have often been guilty of unrealistic expectations for productivity, especially from myself :-)

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  8. I try not to edit as I go because it always just holds me back so much. I'll write three sentences and then delete two of them.
    December is usually a slow month for most people, so don't feel too bad!

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    1. I'm not quite that bad. But if I write something that changes things overall, like adding a new character or changing someone's motivation . . .I can't just go on without going back and fixing how that changes things from the beginning.

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  9. First, congrats for having two books already accepted. That's awesome!

    Second, I think it's normal to lose your mojo after someone says, "this can be better," especially when you think it's at its best. It knocks you down. You doubt yourself, doubt why you even write. Yeah. I've been there.

    But somehow the mojo always comes back. Give it time. Maybe taking December off was the best thing to happen. It'll give you a fresh pair of eyes when you sit down to write.

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    1. It's comforting to think that my reaction is just normal. Thanks, Caitlin!

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  10. The vomit draft. I've never heard of it. I usually do a pretty good first draft. I do use a lot of bullet points to capture ideas. But that's about as vomitty as it gets for me.

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