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Tuesday, December 30, 2014


By Celia Yeary

It seems more and more I'm reading and hearing an increased amount of frustration from authors. Maybe I notice this because, I, too, feel a kind of restlessness and weariness and even a bit of failure.

This feeling is familiar from my teaching years. It's MAY, for heaven's sake! School is winding down, coming to a close, and we can't wait to escape our present situation. May always brings the same feelings I've described. During the school year, didn't we always believe as soon as that last bell rang we'd be free? And happy? And no longer frustrated?

Remember January 2014? We were upbeat and optimistic, a new year had begun, and we had thoughts of promise and success. It's like getting a do-over.

Now that the end of 2014 is near, we want to shake off the old cloak of fatigue and boredom.

But for us authors, we don't get a free vacation as teachers do. Teachers at least have the summer to experience different activities, such as golf, swimming, camping, cruising, or even sign up for a few hours to work on another degree. Yes, we can do those things, and we should, but for three months? Not me any more.

That's the life of an author. Take a break from writing, but make it short.

What shall we do about the frustration?

~*~For starters, look at all your published books. Just this much is a great accomplishment, so pat yourself on the back.

~*~Now study them and locate the main source of your disquiet. Which one needs the most attention? Which one is not selling as it should, or maybe just not at all? Choose that one to channel all your promotional energy on and decide what you can do. A new excerpt to post on the loops? A give-away contest? A fresh post for a guest blog? Some new unique gimmick concerning that book?

~*~Are you stuck on a WIP? Look at it with a critical eye. Is it as good as you thought it might be? Or is it rather staid and mundane? Study it to determine if it's worth saving, or just a bunch of nonsense you could easily delete and get out of your hair.

~*~Would you feel better if you began a new story? Well, by all means, do. That's the best way, in my opinion, to make yourself feel better. A new plot, a new direction, a new set of characters. Why, it's just like going on vacation.

~*~Whatever you do, find some way to change your routine. You might even want to step away for a couple of weeks and just read and perhaps make notes for new ideas. Then when the vacation is over, return and get to work.

I'm in it with you all the way. This is how I feel sometimes, so I speak from experience. Just remember...You are a writer. Whether the world loves your work or not, you do...and in the end, that's all that matters.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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  1. Celia. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. You spoke to much of what I have been going through. Still working (the bill thing and roof over your head), but I've not made the progress on the other works I wanted to finish. Now, close to the one going to first editor. Still....

    Having said that, I'm going to print and post this next to my writing area to keep me sane. Again, Thank You! Doris

    1. Yes--keeping sane is the important part. I do honestly think sometimes my head will explode if I start one more new story or have to stop and learn something new.
      I'm so glad you found something in the post that helps a little. Good luck with your first edits! Hang in there. Remember, having a book go to an editor is a kind of validation that--you are an author.

  2. Great post, Celia. Regarding your thought of being stuck on a WIP, I think you make a valid point. I have the same problem with quilting or scrapbooking (a past interest). I’ll envision something, but when I actually start to put it together, it just isn’t appealing. Although writing isn’t a visual craft in the same sense as mixing colors and shapes in a quilt or on a photo album page, it still has to “work” and keep you excited as you put the words, characters and scenes together.

    For me in the past, and what kept me with a lot of false novel starts that never went anywhere but the trash, was distraction and writer’s block. I have had to accept that there are FAR MORE great novel ideas out there than what I have time and energy to write. While it is good to make a note of my ideas and do a minimal amount of research to determine the feasibility of the writing project, I’ve learned a thousand great novels started and dropped forever are never as good as one great novel finished and published. And, like you said, if you get into a WIP and decide it isn’t really what you want after all, let it go -- let it go....

    As for writer’s block, I have developed a few techniques that help me get past it. One is, like you suggested, to have more than one writing project going. When I’m on fire about a novel like I was with the one I recently finished, nothing can deter me. When I crash, and most of my anti-writer’s block tricks don’t work, I’m better off switching to a different writing project for awhile.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts to help motivate us during the coming new year of writing.

    Robyn Echols writing as Zina Abbott

    1. Robyn--you have made excellent points with the quilting and scrapbooking comparison. I made one quilt in my life at age ten, small, and it was all caterwompered. (Is this a real word?") But I kept it to remind me to never become a quilter. At least I know my limits. You know Ernest Hemingway said "There's not such thing as writer's block...only lazy authors." I beg to differ with Mr. Hemingway..if I could...I do get blocked, although that might be because I easily become distracted by more attractive activities and do not discipline myself.
      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments--you wrote a better post than I did!

  3. Celia, I feel as though you wrote this blog just for me. I am stuck, frustrated, and conflicted. I found your advice very helpful.
    I've put a lot of time and energy into writing short stories for anthologies, but I need to write a novel. I have 2 WIPs, but I'm completely blocked on one of them and internally at odds with myself over what to do with it. The other one needs to expand into a novel and, therefore, needs a subplot. It takes time to develop a plot for a novel, so I had to make a decision not to write a short for anthology for a bit--and that's kind of scary for me.
    I try to keep up with promotion, but I really take little pleasure in it. It feels like self-aggrandizement or rampant ego.
    Writing blogs is stressful. I'm always concerned that I have nothing left to say of any interest. Blogs have become so important for promotion, no author can ignore producing them to keep in touch with readers. It makes me tense.
    I agree that writers really can't take a very long break from writing. There aren't any real vacations. Like an actor without a new movie out, you can be forgotten in this extremely competitive business. It's a daunting reality.
    So thank you, Celia, for this validation of our dilemmas and some helpful ways to overcome them. I always enjoy your blogs, but this one was just the right time and the perfect subject for where I'm at right now.

    1. I picked up these words daily from reading FB posts and comments and replies on some of the loops--especially those related to writing, which most are. This happens probably all year, but for some reason these feelings seem to pile up toward the end--like now. We're programmed, somehow, to seek a new beginning, when there really is little to back up the value of a new beginning. In other words, it's all psychological, probably.
      But I do love The New Year syndrome, the "it's going to be better," even though it won't magically happen. It's good to have this lift and this sense of something changing.
      Me? I do not like promoting, either, and I've slowed down, I think--places and ways to promote are really very limiting. I fear annoying people--readers--which is probably a common feeling among us all. Still, someone said recently that a person might need to see something seven times before it sinks in. I try to keep that in mind. Also, what I promote today, only a handful of people will see it, and I still have that big unknown group out there that might see it the next time. The same people won't see all 7 posts I do. (I don't think.)
      Remember, it's not a rampant ego, it's business and it must be done.
      I know an author who self-pubs, publishes it, and refuses to promote. Now, she is annoying because she thinks it's beneath her talent to self-promote--she believes her book is so good, others will find it and it will sell itself. I KID YOU NOT! I can say with certainty that any book she publishes never gets above the half million mark in ranking.
      So, give me a hard worker who knows how to promote and does it because it's part of the business--someone who is not so self-aggrandizing she thinks she doesn't have to promote! See?
      The main thing is to be sure to allot time for your own work--don't become a slave to promoting for others.
      I'm so glad you got something out of this. Me? I love to blog but I don't want to do it every day.
      Thanks for commenting. And remember we're all friends and rely on each other, too.

  4. Celia, I always love to read your blogs because I always find something of value in them for my own dilemmas and problem areas. No matter how much we write, I do think there are times when we just burn out or need a break--I really don't get blocked but I have had to switch gears and move to a different project for a while, then back to the first one again later on. Sometimes, we just need a bit of space to let things "settle" and then everything works out.

    Blogs are hard to write for me, too, because I don't ever want to churn out something that is boring or where I have nothing to say. I remember years ago, reading blogs by people about how many loads of laundry they got done, how they prepared their meals for the day, vacuumed the floor, etc. and STILL managed to get their 2K words in for the day. I DON'T CARE. And no one else does, either--because some days, I couldn't write 2K words even if it was the only thing I had to do, without vacuuming, cooking or laundry. And there are other days that just seem to "flow"--point is, everyone has both kinds of days, and I don't need to read a blog about it.

    Very good advice in this post of yours (as always!) and I always look forward to seeing what you have to blog about. You're right about the restlessness that comes along at the end of each new year--seems like we always hope what's coming up will be better than what we just experienced. Here's hoping 2015 WILL be better!


    1. Hi, Cheryl--I like the idea of switching gears when we're stuck. I have wondered why I keep two stories going at once, when I did not do that at the beginning of my writing life. If we're stuck on a WIP, I suppose it is better to back off a while instead of trying to force the plot along.
      Your description of that blogger made me laugh. I remember this was sort of encouraged when blogging first started up. You were to blog every day and have someone fun to say, or witty, or creative, or helpful. Like you, I couldn't believe some of the stuff writers put out on their blogs.
      2K words a day? That's a dream for me.
      Yes, we do want a better 2015. I don't often say that about a year, but truly, 2014, for me and Jim has been pretty grim. At times we were just hanging on by our fingernails trying not to let go and scream, cry, or...something worse. I really do think 2015 will be better in many ways.
      I'm glad you like my advice, and I always love your take on it , and have some good advice yourself. That's what I get from the comments. Happy New Year--you've had a wild 2014, and did it ever pay off! Good for you.

  5. Celia,

    I am ‌coming out of a 'down time' episode in my writing life. After cranking out two back-to-back short stories between August and mid-November plus trying to make the 50k mark in NaNoWriMo (which I didn't -- *sigh*), by December 1st, I was in major creative burn-out.

    I'm just now feeling the stirrings of wanting to write again, but not quite to the point of putting news words to paper. So, to feed my glimmer of creativity and nurture it into full-speed-ahead writing, I'm finishing the edits on a full-length novel that I've promised to submit to a certain western romance publisher. *wink* It's a priming the pump strategy.


    1. Oh, Kaye, if we didn't have some downtime, just think how much worse we'd feel. Having a new release is a real boost for me--and I like promoting it for a while. But we can't stay "up" all the time.
      The best to you on that writing for that "western romance publisher."
      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Great post, Celia. And I always get a lot from reading others' comments that follow. I have too many people in my head right now and I need to start a story and let a few of them out, but which ones? When I can't figure out what to do first, I try to focus on one thing and start something. It may turn out to be the wrong choice, but it is one less thing on my list and cuts down on frustartion because I've actually done something.

  7. Celia, what a wonderful post! I feel better already. :-)

    Is it just me, or are all writers prone to a pernicious sort of perfectionism than can suck the joy right out of what we love to do? I realized while reading your post that writing IS my vacation. I resolve right here and now to take neither the work nor myself so seriously in 2015. Instead, I'm going to enjoy my vacation. :-)

    BIG HUGS for the slap on the wrist, Mrs. Yeary! (And thank you for not using the ruler. ;-) )

    1. Oh, I think you hit the nail on the head. Why DO we try to be perfect, to write something hopefully grand, when this sort of strait-laced activity can, yes, suck the creativity right out of us.
      Vacation? I think you're right there, too. As long as I'm writing, etc. I'm happy and pretty settled. It's when I have to stop to make lunch, or go to the grocery store, or clean house or do laundry.
      And P.S. I never, ever, slapped a wrist or used a ruler. But I did pinch a cheek or tap a head to say, Whoa, wait just a minute.
      Ahhh, such is life. Thanks, Kathleen. Let's enjoy our "vacation."

    2. I never seriously thought you slapped wrists or used rulers on students, Celia -- but I'll bet you had the "behave yourself" look down pat. :-)

    3. I can use my "school teacher look," which was quiet...but got attention. My ex-students are hitting 50 now, and many are on FB. One young man--who is now a wealthy jet-setter, asked me recently if I remembered how he would tell me a joke to test if I was angry with him or not--if I laughed, he was off the hook. If I didn't, he knew to straighten up. He was quite a kid, and is now quite a good man.

  8. Hi, Linda! I know...I love to read the comments because they tell me more and teach me more than I tried to do. I do understand the clutter we have in our heads, with this story or that one, these characters...yes, I do get it.
    My advice--just begin--somewhere. Move on. Even if it seems wrong at first, it might turn out to be the most wonderful thing in the world. Keep writing, and please...stay in touch.

  9. Hello Celia. What is there for me to say about your wonderful blog? I think its all been said and very well at that. these are the feelings that writers encounter. I think what struck a cord with me is the self promoting part...I am basically a very shy person ( I know its hard to believe from my writing.) It was drummed into my head as a child never to brag on oneself. I have a very difficult time promoting me. I think I need to look at that like I am promoting my work not me. Perhaps that's the right fit for me.

  10. Barb--most of us have a smidgen of that thought that we might sound as though we're bragging on ourselves or we think we're so good. Growing up in the fifties, Mother wanted us girls to act "right" and that especially meant "don't show off." Those childhood ingrained admonitions just won't go away. Still, we can't do half the package--just write--we're bound to doing the other part--promote.
    I wish you a Happy New Year and much luck with your wonderful stories..