How to Get Through a Writing Slump

Thursday, July 04, 2019

It’s been kind of a tough year as far as my writing goes.

Last year I had a few successes that really pumped up my ego. This year I feel like I’m in a competition for collecting rejection letters, and that’s not a contest I was hoping to enter. I’ve tried not to let myself get discouraged.

As I was drowning my sorrows last week, listening to some of my motivational business podcasts, and I figured out we’re at the “halfway through the year” mark and I started to sink even further into despair. I decided to do a check in and see where I’m at.

That wasn’t fun. I’ve had absolutely zero luck this year, a year where I feel like I’ve produced so much more material and workshopped my pieces with other writers like never before. I’ve entered six pieces into short story contests and two essay contests since January, with nothing but a few rejection letters to show for it.

Last fall, I began sending out the manuscript for my young adult novel, Between, in earnest. After about 10 agent rejections that all said the same thing “Although you’re a good writer, I didn’t connect with this material in the way that I should have,” I got a submission package critique and revamped the opening of the novel, also adding in a few new characters. Then I began sending it out again. And got the same type of responses . . . “It didn’t spark my interest,” or “it’s darker than what I’m looking for at the moment.”

At this point, I’ve submitted the opening chapters to 19 agents and one indie publishing house. The publishing house said no but offered to work with me on a hybrid publishing contract (which requires me to pay money up front), I’ve had no requests for more chapters from any agents, received thirteen specific no’s (although one mentioned I could send something else in the future), and I’m still waiting to hear back from six agents. I came to the conclusion that maybe this old dog needs to try a few tricks. After hearing about the digital publishing platform Wattpad, and seeing so many Netflix teen movies and TV shows adapted from Wattpad projects, I uploaded the first part of my novel to Wattpad in the hopes that maybe something will come of it there. I still own the rights to all the material and can take it down whenever I please. I also published one of my short stories that I haven’t had any luck submitting anywhere else. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

And as for those writing contests? I won’t give up. As of this blog post, I have one essay and two short stories under submission for two other contests. Even if I don’t win anything, at least I can be proud that I’ve continued to chase my dreams even while working full-time and getting smacked with rejection just about every other week since the beginning of the year! One of the essays I wrote was something I had never attempted before, and I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished with it. Even if it doesn’t win any competitions, I can try submitting to literary journals next. That’s how I’m choosing to get through this particular writing slump.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who likes to write about the darker side of humanity. Her contemporary young adult novel, Between, is perfect for fans of Ghost and 13 Reasons Why and has been entered into the 2019 Watty Awards competitionYou can learn more about it and read the first chapters here with a Wattpad account.


Nicole Pyles said...

I think you are handling a writing slump like a champion! I swear summer is slump weather for me too. I think it's the heat. I feel like I should save more editing and revising for this time of year because new writing just isn't as easy for me. And I think it's amazing you submitted to Wattpad!

Andrew Therriault said...

Hello there, you have done a great job!!. Thank you!!
Andrew Therriault Maine

Angela Mackintosh said...

I love that you took the bull by the horns and entered Between in the Watty Awards comp! I registered and read your short story, which is brilliant and I've been dying to read it ever since you told me about the fire, and started reading your novel and can't wait to read more. I also voted. :) Your book comp cross is right on and so intriguing! I didn't know Netflix adapted projects from Wattpad; no wonder agents are recommending it for sample chapters, prequels, etc. I think it's a fantastic idea! Way to stay positive, Renee!

Also, you have the cutest style. I just love your eyelet top. :)

Renee Roberson said...

Nicole--I think you are in to something when you suggest revising and editing for the summer. It's so hard to focus on something new during this time. I'm glad I submitted to Wattpad. I've had so many friends and relatives who have asked to read more of my fiction over the years and this is a great way to share it with them.

Andrew--Thank you for our support!

Angela--It was time to try something new. I've seen so many people in the YA genre have success with Wattpad I figured it was worth a shot. And that's the second comment I've gotten on that top from someone who has seen the picture, so thank you! I never know what type of style I have but I guess lately I've been leaning more towards preppy. That came from a J. Crew outlet and I love it.

Mary Horner said...

Sorry for the late response, but it's so hard in so many ways. That's why I think a writing community is important, and I feel your pain this year, and am also happy for your success last year. You are doing the right thing, continuing to send it out! It's just a matter of time!

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