Thursday, April 22, 2010

If You're Stuck, Get Help!

So I've been procrastinating when it comes to writing. I know. You're shocked. Disappointed. Perhaps you have lost all faith in me.
Get over it.
I had a good reason.
As I've grumbled previously, I've been in kind of a slump when it came to writing.
I had this idea for my next book, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with it.
I'm not a plotter, and when I'm in the mood, I can whip out a few thousand words pretty easily. That's not to say they'll be great words, even publishable, but they're there on the page to testify that I can do this.
But sometimes writers need a little help. Even the really good ones. I'm not counting myself in that caliber by the way.
I gave myself a goal. I want to have this book complete and ready to pitch at the ACFW conference in September.
Which is...five...months away.
I never claimed to be sane.
So just how do I intend to accomplish such a s feat?
Well, first of all, I admitted I was stuck. Then I got help.
If any of you are familiar with Susan May Warren, you know I'm not stuck anymore.
I signed up for a Brainstorming Session which included answering a bunch of annoying questions about my story, half of which I didn't know the answers to, and then a phone call with Susie. By the end of the phone call, those questions weren't annoying and they all had answers.
But, because I am a more visual learner, what helped me the most was being able to talk the thing out. As we talked, scenes began to take shape in my head. I could see where I was going with the story, how it was going to work, and even how it would end.
And it's not so scary anymore.
Granted, my story isn't exactly the same as the original idea now. I'd been wavering between women's fiction and romance. We decided it would be better as a romance, which is fine with me, since that's what I love to write.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to sit down and write a chapter by chapter outline and stick to it. That would be way too much of a stretch for me. But I have enough information to fill out a rough grid, knowing I can change anything I want or need to on it as the story begins to take shape on the page.
And the best thing about it all?
I'm excited to sit down and write again.
I don't know whether or not I'll be ready to pitch this at the conference.
But I'm not going to worry about that.
I'm not going to worry about those responses that may still be coming down the pike from editors, because there is nothing I can do to change them. I did my best on my last book, and I was happy with it. I'm still happy with it, but I can't force anyone else to buy it. I know it's good because of the comments we're getting. I'm in the really good rejection stage. That still invokes a somewhat bitter laugh from me, but its where I am. For now.
And today, I'm okay with that.
So that's my journey so far.
How's yours going?


Empty Refrigerator said...

It definitely sounds like you're climbing out of your slump - congratulations. I can relate to what you wrote here. Unfortunately I'm in a bit of a slump myself. Sometimes I just feel that there's no chance. There are so many people with these huge, gigantic platforms - mega-platforms - just rising above the slush piles. And here I am with my rickety plywood 2 by 4, and I'm getting ready to get into the slush piles too - really get into the this time, not just test the waters with a few little query letters. But quite honestly, looking at what's out there, I know that from a salability angle, even I wouldn't pick me. So that's where I am. Since you asked :)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

My favorite line in this post is that you're excited to sit down and write again.

And you did what needed to be done to get yourself to this point!

Very. Cool.

~ Wendy

Catherine West said...

Sounds like you're in a tough spot. I have two suggestions for you.
Have you checked out Rachelle Gardner's blog? She will feature queries once a week on the blog, pick them apart and tell you what works and what doesn't. You could submit one to her for that purpose if you're just wanting feedback and don't mind it being public (names witheld of course).
The other option is, if you know you won't be able to sell this project right now, write something else that has a better chance. Sometimes it's all about timing. I don't know what you're writing, whether fiction or non-fiction - if its fiction you don't need to worry about platform so much. I have books I've written that we haven't been able to sell. That's not to say in the future they won't sell, but right now, they're not going anywhere. It's a really, really tough business to break into. If you're serious about it, you just have to keep going back to the drawing board until you find the thing that works. It sucks, but that's the way it is right now.
Keep me posted!

Cindy said...

I love that thing (whatever it ends up being) that gets us excited to sit down at write again.

For me this time it was a friend (who is also a writer) saying, "Maybe you should work on something else."

It sounds simple, I know, but it almost made me defensive. "No way!" I thought. "I LIKE this story and I am determined to get it finished!"

So I got back to work that day and I am back on track.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday!

My goal is to be ready to pitch at the ACFW conference in September too, only I'm in the pitching-to-agents phase. It's always daunting yet motivating to have an aggressive goal, isn't it? Maybe we'll see each other at the conference and cheer each other on. :-)