Thursday, January 2, 2014

Feeling the Writer Blues

I hadn't been planning on writing this post, but as I sit at my desk with the blinking cursor on my Word doc and the window is open with sun streaming in... I felt like I should share my thoughts.

It's not often I blog about much. I find other people can say what I want about writing craft a lot better than I can. I'm a better story-teller than teacher (sorry, Mom). But this doesn't have so much to do with craft as it does with the life of a struggling writer.

To recap, in December, I entered the PitchWars contest hosted by Brenda Drake. I almost didn't enter, but I scanned the mentor's wishlists and figured, "Well, why not?" And believe me when I say I am so glad I did, because not only did I get picked by the FABULOUS Stephanie Garber as her mentee, but I also got some awesome teammates who have become spectacular friends. 

PitchWars is the best thing that's happened to my book--maybe even to me--in a VERY long time. Stephanie told me my book was good and my characters were interesting, but she also told me I could do so much better. And it's funny... It wasn't until I got that wonderful(ly lengthy) letter that I had even considered whether or not the story I was telling was the one that needed to be told.

And so I sat back and began looking at my story--really looking--and came to the conclusion that I had only begun to scrape the surface of my world and my pirates. And so I've begun revising this story, so much so that there are parts of it I never imagined I could write. And it takes a long time, and it's a lot of hard work, and sometimes I sit staring at my computer wondering why I'm forcing myself to endure this month of living in my writing cave, where I keep doing this to people I love:

But then I remind myself why I started to write, and why these characters speak to me, and why I want my words to go out into the world. Books have helped me through thick and thin, because they allow you to escape from whatever you happen to be living through and live someone's life, where they take control of it and leap. 

And that's the most important thing. Because books and their characters can give you strength when you can't find it anywhere else. I fully admit to channeling my inner Peeta when I have to get up in front of people and present. And you know what? It helps. Because if characters in a book can get through hard times, why can't you?

So my advice is to look up authors you love. Roam through their blogs, find their stories about struggling to get an agent and the waiting woes, because more often than not they will have shared it at some point. Find a supportive group of fellow writers who will be there to reply to lengthy emails about wanting to murder characters or who will demand you share the story behind a cryptic teaser tweet. 

Stop comparing yourself to other writers who may/may not have more success than you. Stop stalking agents' Twitter feeds. Remind yourself of why you started writing and why you chose these characters to write about. Sit down and WRITE.

I promise, it will get better by the end. And if doesn't, you haven't reached the end.


  1. Thanks, Kate. A Don't-Give-Up was just what I needed today. My characters always end up sucking me back in when I feel like throwing in the towel. Sometimes I just need to give them time to do that.

    1. Oh yay! I'm so glad I helped. ^_^ It's true. Just letting your characters take the reins can lead you places you never knew you could go.