Friday, May 4, 2012

Season of Frustration

It seems that 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. Remember January? We were upbeat and optimistic, a new year had begun, and with it always brought thoughts of promise and success.

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 from 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?

Now that summer is near, we want to shake off the old cloak of fatigue and boredom.
But for us authors, we don't get a free summer to play, and swim, and hike, and vacation. Yes, we can do those things, and we should. But upon return, the same tasks as before are there. That's the life of an author. Take a break, but come back to where you were.

What shall we do about it? For starters, study all your books that are published. 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. Great post, Celia! I've been feeling restless and irritated lately, even though I have two new releases out. I think lack of reviews and sales have combined to make we wonder if it's all worth it, despite my efforts to promote. I also have a book under contract and am plotting out a new one.

    So, I'm going to concentrate on a few new ways to promote the books already out, nothing I can do about the reviews. Either they'll come eventually or they won't, but I can enter my books in contests.

    And I plan to finish that plot by the end of this month, so I can write the first draft over the summner. Sort of my summer project. I think starting a new book will help get me out of these doldrums.

    I'm also looking forward to a new cover for my contracted book. That's always exciting.

  2. What a wonderful post. I think everyone of us has felt this at one time or another.
    I usually get into this gray funk when I start doubting my abilities. Sometimes I get stuck in a story--you know, just not feeling it and I have to get more into my character's head and think what it is this character wants and what's stopping him/her from getting it.
    Promotion is a big boogey man to me. What book to promote, what excerpt is the most enticing, what blog to write and a hundred other things. It all seems like luck sometimes.
    You gave some good ideas about climbing out of the funk, Celia. I really enjoyed reading your blog today.

  3. That is exactly how I'm feeling right now. So reassuring to know I'm not alone. And so many good ideas for picking yourself up and getting on with it. Thank you, Celia

  4. Great post! I appreciate hearing it's not just me getting restless at times.

    :-) Maria

  5. I can identify with this post. Lately, I've been agonizing over my blog, wanting to get readership up. I think it's a way to distract myself from finding out of my book is selling or not! LOL. I love to write, but finding out if people love it too is absolutely daunting. Writers tend to be introverts, I find. At least I am. It makes promotion that much scarier.

  6. Celia, yes I think we have to go in cycles, also, just like school kids. It's always good to go along with nature and let it guide us. ;-)

  7. I've always felt creative people--musicians, artists, writers--are owned by their art. And, at times, the art takes a personal toll. I've been writing nonstop for nearly two years: 3 books, 2 novellas and my current WIP. I'm tired, yet driven, if that makes any sense. Great post, Celia. You've presented some workable ideas.

  8. Thanks for the great advice. Writing can be frustrating.

  9. maybe because of that awesome picture of the chairs by the beach? That would lure me away from just about anything...and throw in a handsome man serving me adult beverages....yummy in so many ways!

  10. Susan--New releases, I think, sometimes cause sort of a let-down. I always think the anticipation is better than the actual event!
    We should be getting more from out efforts than we are, but there's nothing to do about it except continue to promote, write another, and keep moving.
    New way to promote, in my opinion, is the best strategy for slow sales. Some gimmick, and not just a free book.
    Use your wealth of creativity and think of that gimmick!
    Thanks for sharing...

  11. Sarah--doubt will kill your spirit every time. We all do it--we wouldn't be human if we didn't. But when you make yourself stop and count your abilities, you will feel better. I doubt mine all the time, wondering why in the world am I doing this?
    I'm glad you got some ideas here!
    As always, I love to read your comments.

  12. Jenny--I really do think, for everybody, it's a big of spring fever. It's hard too move along when you'd rather sit with your feet up on the porch and sip something cold and sweet.
    It can be helpful, if we use it as a time to daydream. Daydreaming is great for your creativity!

  13. Yes we all get frustrated at some point. The definition of a successful person is "one who's never satisfied with what she/he achieves but always aims for more." It's the opposite of the hapy person "who's always satified with what he/she has."

    Recently I've neglected my blog and can't find time or things to write on it, but my muse is concentrating on a manuscript that I put aside for four years and doing wonders.

  14. Maria--it's not just you! Thank you for visiting today.

  15. Patty--you made me laugh. Yeah, I've been following your laments on the DB site--you saw by those comments how many authors are in the same boat. Well, not all..some talk as if it's a piece of cake and nothing to it. Not.
    Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  16. LK--yes, it's a natural cycle. Some might feel happier and rejuvenated in the spring--not me. I feel better in the fall.

  17. Vonnie--my friend know I can identify with your case. I got six contracts summer before last, which meant that a year later--recently--I have six books close to each other to promote. It absolutely wore me out.
    I know for sure that's part of my problem. What was I thinking???

  18. Wanda--I agree. But the promotion is the most tiring.

  19. Annette--yep,that photo caught my attention. I could picture myself sitting right there!

  20. MONA--I have never heard that saying. You should use it for...something. It's very telling.
    Good for you on the revived ms! I have one I'm trying to work on. The virtual pages are becoming tattered.

  21. Problem is... I have to finish those stories I keep starting. LOL

    No, honestly.

    I think a good rule of thumb is not to beat yourself up because your feeling so restless either. Or not accomplishing all the things you want or selling all the books you want.

    I try to work on the promotional end and get a touch frustrated when it doesn't all come together as planned. So I step back and take a breather.

  22. Morning - no it's already afternoon - Celia. I don't know where this day is going so fast, but that's how I've felt about 2012 so far. It's passing in a blur.

    I have plenty of new projects on tap, so I don't feel frustrated about the future, but I do hold a pocket full of regret for missed opportunities.

    There's not enough time in the day to do everything, but I have the blessing/curse to be singularly focused, so some things get done, others fall by the wayside.

    When I get overwhelmed by the business of writing, I need to take a short break to recharge. That always puts me back in fighting form.

    Great post with really good suggestions! Maggie

  23. Ditto on what Maggie just said. My year is passing with a blur. I've had a little break doing touristy things, but now it's back to work...and I'm itching to move the current WIP forward-whether or not my debut novel has any more sales.

  24. Celia,

    Overdose. After reading your post I feel even stronger about what I've labeled recently as 'overdose'. Meaning overdose of blogs, tweets, facebook things that have nothing to do with being professional, and how the 'craft' itself is taking a back seat. More substance, less fluff is my rule for my writing future. I long for personal contact and a real smile instead of a smiley face ending a flippant email.

    Okay, now I've unloaded and hear gasps. Venting keeps me grounded and I'm off on my latest story idea.

    Have a great day and thanks for letting me know I'm not alone.


  25. TINA--you have a snesible way of doing thing--good work. Most of the time I am organized and don't take things very seriously. But like now, I seem to need to be in five directions, and can't decide. That's why I'm doing this blog and fiddling with FB--I'm taking a breather.

  26. Maggie--thanks for your comment. You always have a unique way of stating the problem and how you solve it--that scientific mind at work. Yes, I can imagine 2012 has been a blur for you! Now, though, you sound organized...yea!

  27. Nancy--that's the plan I sort of use. I get something out, wait and watch, but them begin something else so I won't focus on that one thing.

  28. Nancy Kay--no, I didn't hear any gasps. I heard cheers for Nancy! I think you nailed it for everyone--less fluff and more substance. Real face to face contact--I try to do that often, or I really get in a rut.
    Thanks for you thoughtful comment--

  29. Great advice, Celia. I get downhearted at lack of sales and reviews despite all my promotion efforts. With my new book coming out next week, I'm even wondering if it's actually worth the long slog of promotion. Of course I'll do it because it's what we have to do, but I wish I could find some enthusiasm for it!

  30. Paula--oh, how I understand. If nothing else, I entertain myself with my books and internet socializing. But Paula, you have had nice success--I can assure you, others haven't come close. So, I think you can place yourself in the category of doing a good job. Pat yourself on the back!

  31. Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement, Celia. Not really sure why I am feeling so 'down in the dumps' at the moment, must just be one of those days!

  32. Hi! New follower here. I'm visiting my fellow "Western Roundup Giveaway" hoppers. I look forward to visiting again.


  33. Celia, I'm late again but I've read all the comments and see we are all in the same boat on this subject. I think part of our disallusionment and discontent is not seeing the monetary results that we hope for. Unfortunately, success is measured in money and most of us are literary paupers. It is hard to feel optimistic about what we are "driven" to do unless we also feel appreciated. And having our books reach a lot of people is the proof we need. Who said "Man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for?" I guess we are all still reaching. I know I am.

  34. Nothing revs me up like: 1) actually selling books; and 2) a good review.

    We don't get a lot of positive reinforcement in this business except from our writer pals. Selling books and good reviews are two things you can actually measure. So very many things can go wonky, though. Let's say you and your writer pal do exactly the same thing at the same time. One of you might sell a boatload of books while the other is left empty-handed. Why is that? (I've been on both sides.)

    Bottom line: do whatever it is we need to do to get back to the joy of creating a story. Allowing external measures of success to crush that joy does not a motivated writer make.

    As for groups and social media, I've had it up to my eyebrows and at this point, only do what I absolutely have to do. I know, I know--naughty me.

  35. While I'm diligently working on my current WIP, life keeps tossing curve balls in my way... I know it happens. But it's hard stop and get back into your story when this happens.
    Great tips, Celia.

  36. Hey, Sylvia Ney, New Followwr! I only met MK recently, and I hope to meet more Western authors on the blog hop.Thanks so much for the Follow and your note!

  37. Linda--well, in this case, all our grasps are exceeding our reach--did I say that right? Remember your teaching days? I don't know about you, but our salaries were rather on the low side. Most teachers tell themselves this same thing--we do it for the love of it--which I really do believe. It would just nice to get more for our efforts, but one is holding our feet to the fire--as someone else once said.
    Thank you for making it here!

  38. Jacquie-- I see you listed "Making money" as number 1--haha!
    I like the word "wonky"--I use it, too, because there's no other word to describe the ups and down of selling our books--no rhyme nor reason, much of the time.
    It feel better to get in a routine I can handle, and try very hard not to add anything else, and maximize what I do have.
    Thanks for your thoughtful post--I agree on every point.

  39. Neecy--I always thought it would be nice to have a little cottage in the woods--with excellent internet, of course,--where life couldn't find me with those curve balls. And I could just write, read, daydream, snack, etc. all by myself. Oh, maybe a month might do it. Thanks for you input.

  40. Celia, great post and great advice on how we can reflect on what we've done this year and move forward.

    The promo/marketing game always has me on edge. Lack of reviews and sales can be a bit frustrating. You have to keep trying which can be challenging given the demands on my time.


  41. Steph--I think you've done more in a short amount of time than anyone. You deserve to sit back...take my advice, hold off for a while, and restart--you may see a difference. Also, I want you to relax a little more. Love you...