Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tempted to give up writing?

The short answer is yes, especially during the last month or so. Maybe our dire British ‘summer’ weather hasn’t helped – dull, miserable, grey skies most of the time and a LOT of rain (evidently April, May and June broke all previous rainfall records). But it's not just the weather that is depressing me. It's my writing too.

I started my current ‘work in progress’ in January, got to Chapter 13 by mid-March, decided it wasn't working, and went back to rewrite from Chapter 7. It still didn’t feel right, so at the end of May I started the whole thing again. Now, two months and 10 chapters later, (a) I’m still not happy with it and (b) I must confess I’m fed-up of it! I realised the latter when I found myself procrastinating even more than usual(!) because I felt the story was in a big black hole and I didn’t know how to pull it out. Eventually, after two or three weeks of struggling, I put it to one side and hoped that, by distancing myself from it, some inspirational solution or at least some new ideas would occur to me. Guess what? They haven’t :-(

In the meantime I’m trying (fairly half-heartedly, I admit) to resurrect one of my old stories, but again it’s proving an uphill struggle. And I don't really have any ideas for a new story - not even for a Christmas anthology for which my publisher is inviting submisisons.

So what’s happened? Has my muse deserted me? Am I really at the point of wanting to give up writing?

There’s another reason for my current depression (if that’s what this current ‘downer’ really is). Since June 2011, I’ve had three novels published (and another one due out in November). I’ve had some wonderfully gratifying reviews on Amazon as well as positive comments on my blog and on Facebook. But sales? To say I am disappointed in the number of books I’ve sold is an understatement. It leaves me with the feeling that, if so few people are reading my books, why am I spending hours agonising over the next one?

I’m still trying to work out why I’m tempted to give up writing. Is it because I can’t get a grip on my current story? Is it because my other books haven’t sold particularly well? Or is it simply because this damned gloomy wet ‘summer’ weather is enough to drive anyone into a depression?

Maybe it’s a combination of all these things – but, at the moment, writing (in the words of my friend Gilli Allen) seems akin to trying to carve granite with a teaspoon…  


  1. Do not give up! You hear me... Try a self-pubbed book... Such will boost your writing esteem no end. I'll help you to get one up on Kindle. Do you have one kicking its heels? No word of a lie I bought a new laptop out of Kindle royalty payments for February/March 2012. That's why I won't be subbing to any publishers in future. My ranking goes up an down on a daily basis but sales are ticking along nicely. I could easily purchase another laptop and restock my wardrobe on April/May/June/July royalties. Reviews? I don't have many and I don't think reviews make any difference to sales figures. I don't do much promotional work either, but I have learned a trick for getting books noticed at Amazon. So don't lose heart...


  2. Meant to say I'm not big on, my sales mostly come from UK, and occasional sales in Germany, France & Italy.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, Francine! I don't have any completed books at the moment, just one that's got stuck somewhere in the mud! I've only just started a re-write of another one, but can't really summon up any enthusiasm for it!

  4. How about a novella? Novella's sell well. They're small and can be sold cheap. I have one up that's only 1700+ words = £1. I cost mine per word count right up to full length novels of 100,000 word count £3 +.

  5. LOL if only the plot ideas fairy would come and visit me! I think she has dissolved in all the rain!

  6. For what it's worth, Paula, I've been where you are. Heck, some days, I AM there. My last WIP took me a year to write, because I struggled so much with it. Do you have a critique partner? Maybe someone to talk it over with or get a second opinion on? Sometimes that helps. Didn't with the book I mentioned. I just had to struggle through the darn thing. It did eventually come together in the end, but not until I talked it out with someone and revised the entire beginning. And honestly? I'm still not sure the new beginning is right.

    I hear you on sales, though. Mine on my first book haven't been all that great. It remains to be seen with the next two. I'd say don't let it get you down, but you know, sometimes, I just need a break from writing. I don't know about you, but i tend to push myself pretty hard, so I always need some down time where I don't feel pressure to produce.

    I hear you on the weather, too. When we moved out here to the Seattle area, I thought the mild weather was fantastic. No snow, no freezing temps. But it's grey and blah 9 months out of the year. Can definitely get very depressing.

    Don't stop writing Paula! It'll come. Maybe a break is just what you need.

  7. Paula,

    As authors we've probably all been where you are right now. I think the biggest frustration you mentioned is great reviews don't always mean huge sales. It's depressing.

    But I agree with Francine...don't give up! You are a very talented writer. Don't deprive the world of your stories.

    If I ever find a fool proof tried and true successful way to sell more books, I'll share my strategy with you! Because, believe me, I'm looking!

    Maybe stop looking for an idea...then one will be sure to come upon you!

  8. Joanne - I know I'm not alone and that we all struggle at times. My critique partners have been with me since I started the story and have been very supportive, but maybe I need someone with completely fresh eyes to look at it now!
    I agree with you about needing a break sometimes. Actually a nice long week somewhere warm and sunny would help, I'm sure! As with Seattle, 50 shades of grey simply means the clouds here!

  9. Thanks, Debra. I know I'm describing how we've all felt at times, and in the end I think it's probably the awful weather here that is contributing mostly to my negative mood! And we all wish we could find the magic key to more sales, don't we?
    I'm hoping that by leaving the first story alone for a while and revising the other story will help! Maybe, just maybe, I'll come back to the first one and thing 'Hmm, it's not as bad as I thought!'

  10. It's so ironic, Paula. Over here across the pond we're in the middle of a huge summer draught. The worst in years. The excessive heat is making me crazy.

  11. Maybe try a new approach, Paula. Take the story you could revive and plot it. (I'll help you.) Get the plot points in the right place. Play with the conflict until it is intense enough.

    I know you don't think this is your style, but think of it as going back to school to learn a new technique. At least try it once...

    JMO. I'll help you.
    Heat is draining. I'm braindead after working 8 hours outside each day.

  12. Sorry I didn't see this until today. Don't give up! Seriously. We all feel like you do. Part of it may be depression from the weather, part of it is writer's block and who knows what the rest of it is. Just keep at it and don't get discouraged. You don't like what you're writing? Put it aside? No ideas? Read. You're a wonderful writer and you shouldn't give up. Maybe get a bunch of people and brainstorm ideas (I'll even help if you want).

  13. Ana, the story I'm reviving is okay, it's the Luke and Beth story that has dragged me down. I've tried part-plotting it and I think I know where it's going, but it's the pace that's all wrong somehow!

  14. Thanks, Jen. Maybe I could send you the first few chapters and you can tell me what you think!