Happy Holidays to all and I do hope this is the time of year you get to enjoy. I like the roller coaster ride from November 1 to the end of the year, but not everyone does.
On the writing front, I don’t seem to get a lot done this time of year. I usually turn to editing because there are so many things going on that getting solid blocks of time to sit and create become few and far between. Editing is something I need to approach in short segments anyway and taking a half hour or an hour is time enough to look at your stuff objectively before you spiral out into just reading your words. Yeah. I can still only edit for so long before I’m looking at my stories through my eyes and not a “audience’s” eyes.
While I feel I’m getting better, I’m still definitely more writer than editor. It’s okay. I’ve got friends who call me out on my writing quirks and keep me honest. And that’s what friends are for who are also in the writing game.
To the topic at hand . . . what do you do when you hit those periods where absolutely nothing is happening on your writing front? I’ve touched on this before, but you’re going to find those times when nothing is coming creatively and all of the stories you do have out to presses and publishers are going nowhere. Either you’re hearing nothing or you’re getting lots of those, “Thanks for submitting, but . . .”
Been there. And currently I’m there right now. I’ve had a lot of stories out and I’ve been racking up the rejections. I keep sending stories back out and I’m sitting and waiting on responses to several things, but nothing is coming back. On the creative front, I’m poking around at stories, but I’m not inspired. Nothing has hit me sideways and fired up the writing engine.
So what’s a writer to do? First and proverbial foremost: don’t let it discourage you. This is not my first go-around on this, and you have to take it one step at a time.
Not inspired? As I’ve said before, sometimes you have to literally recharge the creative batteries. If you’re in a boat setting idle in the midst of the doldrums, don’t fight it. Go with it. If the neurons aren’t firing, reenergize by reading, watching movies, or any number of other activities which allow you to soak in other creative endeavors other creators have put out there. You can also pull out your tools from the garage and build something–a table, a cutting board, who knows? Not your thing? Get in the kitchen and make that quiche you’ve been thinking about or go to that lake to capture some pics you’ve been meaning to get to (maybe not the lake that’s supposed to inhabit an unknown creature).
Getting heaped on with rejections? You have to realize there are lots and lots of writers out there with good ideas too. If you keep getting the “thanks, but” emails, don’t think of it as them not liking your stories or that they’re not really that good. I’ve been doing the math and most presses have a 95%+ rejection rate. For the bigger ones, it’s worse. And if you consider a lot of presses get anywhere from 100-400 submissions on a call (some even higher), and there may only be 13-20 spots available in an anthology or magazine, it becomes a lot of weed out. So if you’re competing against 399 other people your story not only has to be quality, but it’s got to hit the editor(s) in exactly the right way to get picked up.
It doesn’t mean your story sucks or isn’t good enough. Not in the least. Subjectivity is a huge and unquantifiable metric that comes into play. I’ve had several personal rejections where the editor was semi-apologetic for not picking it up, or that even though they couldn’t fit it in, they encouraged me because it had solid story telling. You (and I) may lose out to an anthology because of only one other story–we’ll never know that, but it happens.
Bottom line here: just keep doing what you’re doing. Edit your existing stories if nothing new is coming. Try other creative pursuits. File away the rejections and send those same stories out again as soon as the opportunity arises.
The one thing you can count on? Things change. Always. If you’re in a publishing slump, just wait it out and keep moving forward. It’ll pick back up. Promise. I’ve been there too.
Alright, finish the rest of your post-Thanksgiving weekend with fun things and we’ll talk again soon.