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How to Get Through a Writing Slump

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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 decided 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 competition You can learn more about it and read the first chapters here.

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