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How I Get Out of a Writing Funk

For this blog chain, Elana has a question and a demand ;-)

When you're in a pool of writing funk, how do you get out?
I want your favorite funny and/or thing that makes you happy.
Since her definition of "writing funk" was so good, here it is:
Not sure what the Pool of Writing Funk is? Maybe you've heard of the Lake of Self-Doubt. No? The Ocean of What-the-heck-am-I-doing? Or maybe each rain drop in your life seems to whisper, "You're not good enough." These all contribute to the pool.

So...what do I do? Well, first, I use denial. Seriously. See, I don't really believe in Writer's Block. I believe there is always a project you can be working on, so there's really no excuse to not write. If I'm completely stymied by a current project, I pull out an old one and edit away. (It helps that I enjoy editing.) Plus, if I'm plagued by thoughts like "I'm not good enough" and "What was I thinking?", editing helps. After all, I'm working to make my stuff better.

Another trick: I take a break. Now, I write each and every day, for the most part, and I have for years. I always have some set-aside time at the end of the day. But once in a while I'm just too tired, or I'm feeling stressed and overworked. In those situations, I'll sometimes deliberately take a day or two off. After two days, I'm usually ready to dive back in. I believe it's important to give yourself permission from time to time to set aside even writing. I even did this during NaNoWriMo. Just don't set your work aside for more than a couple days, or you'll get out of the habit of writing. And don't take too many "vacations" from your writing because you're in a funk. A few times a month (think like 1-3) is plenty.

As for when I just feel wholly inadequate and like I'm never going to make it as a writer...well, that kind of solves itself. I never really became a writer; I just realized I was a writer. If I ever really tried to convince myself I was going to quit writing, I think I'd have a panic attack. For me writing is like breathing -- a necessary, life-sustaining act.

So while I sometimes throw myself on the proverbial floor and wallow in a funk of self-pity, I do try to limit the time I spend there. After two or three days, it's time to pick myself up and figure out what I'm going to do about the problem. I have some great books on writing, so sometimes I pull those out and learn how to be a better writer. Or maybe I gather information on local writing conferences. Or read some agents' blogs so I can better understand the publishing biz.

Sometimes it also helps to help someone else with their writing. For example, I go check out the Query Review area over on the Forum. A lot of times there's someone just starting out with a query, and I can help them see a different approach. That also reminds me that I have a lot to offer others; that is, I'm an accomplished enough writer that I believe my help is useful

I want your favorite funny and/or thing that makes you happy.

All right, you can laugh at this if you like, but the thing that always makes me happy, no matter what, is my pets. One really likes to watch TV with me, so sometimes we'll curl up with a good movie or an episode of a television show I truly adore (which pretty much means Farscape or Supernatural), and for an hour or two I'm engrossed in something else and also spending time with my pet. (Research actually shows that petting your resident furball reduces stress and even produces physiological benefits like lowered blood pressure.)

I also have some places I can go online that are pretty much guaranteed to crack me up. is one; is another.

As always, be sure to check out Kate's post (before mine) and Michelle's post (after mine), as well as the other posts in the chain!

New Articles on the Archetype Site!

In this Writing the Query Letter series, Elana Johnson walks us through the essential parts of a query letter -- the kind that will attract agents and get your work read!

Writing the Query Letter Part 1 - The Hook by Elana Johnson
There are literally hundreds of websites where you can go to find out how to write a query letter. But the fact is, you don't want just a query letter. You want a great query letter--one that sets yours above the others.

Writing the Query Letter Part 2 - The Setup by Elana Johnson
Once you've hooked the agent to read your whole query letter, you've got to deliver. You can't just have a hook and then let everything else slide. Following the hook, you need to get to the problem.

Writing the Query Letter Part 3 - The Conflict by Elana Johnson
Now to the part that everyone wants to read—the conflict. Every novel needs it. In fact, the more conflict, the better. In the query letter, you want to highlight the main conflict, not every single one in every single chapter.

Writing the Query Letter Part 4 - The Consequence by Elana Johnson 
In the queries I've read, the consequence is what's lacking the most. The consequence. You've hooked me, set me up, explained the conflict that's keeping me from getting what I want, but…what will happen if I don't solve the conflict? That's the consequence.

Writing the Query Letter Part 5 - Everything Else by Elana Johnson
This part of the series tackles the title and word count, marketing and comparisons, and the bio.

Even if you've followed this series on the Blog , you'll want to check out the two links below:

At the bottom of each of Elana's articles is a link to a bonus -- a set of worksheets to help you write your own query letter!

Also be sure to check out Michelle McLean's take on how to write a hook: How To Write A Hook Line Or Logline.
Your hook line, like a logline, takes a story full of complex plotlines and high-concept ideas and breaks it down into a simple sentence that can be quickly and easily conveyed to a wide range of people. Your hook line is your first pitch in getting someone interested in your book. It can be used as the first line in your query letter, to help hook the agent into reading the rest of the letter and requesting information. And it is especially useful for those pitch sessions at conferences or lunches. When a prospective agent or editor asks you what your book is about, your hook line is your answer. Because it is a simple line or two, it is also handy for those family dinner parties when Grandma asks what your book is about.

Also don't miss The Writer's Guide to Research, also by Michelle McLean
As a writer who focuses mainly on historical settings, research is an important part of my writing process. In this article, learn how to research anything online!

Finally, I trimmed my blog post on Angst, Mental Illness, and Creativity into an article by the same name (link goes to the article).

Archetype Site Updates

Visual Prompts area has been updated.

Resources Reorganization

Resources Reorganization

The Writing & Editing area of the Resources section of the site had gotten too large, so I did some reorganizing.

I divided the Writing & Editing into 2 new sections:
  1. Writing Essentials (which includes information on Characterization and Genres)
  2. Editing & Feedback
The Agents & Publishing area stayed the same.

The Real Psychology area, which used to be a mirror of (you guessed it) the site's Real Psychology section, has been updated and renamed Using Real Psychology.  You will now find articles in that area as well.

The Downloads area stayed the same.

The Research and Oddities section now has a wonderful article called The Writer's Guide to Research.  Keep an eye on this area, because author Michelle McLean is a researching expert (she has a Bachelor's degree in History and a Master's degree in English!), and I suspect we'll be seeing more articles on research from her.

The final two areas, Writing Links and Psych Links, stayed the same.

New Articles: Deconstructing Urban Fantasy

New Articles on the Archetype Site!
New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn wrote a great series on what urban fantasy is (Part I), mistakes writers make  (Part II), and the psychology behind the genre (Part III).  Her psychological analysis is so good I wanted to applaud when I was done reading it!

Carrie’s Analysis of Urban Fantasy Part I: The Formula by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie’s Analysis of Urban Fantasy Part II: When Things Go Wrong by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie’s Analysis of Urban Fantasy Part III: Deconstructing Urban Fantasy by Carrie Vaughn

For this go round with the (blog) chain gang, Abi  asked

1. What writing related things have you done in the past?
2. What WiP's (work in progress) are you working on now?
3. Do you have anything brewing for the future?
4. Are you setting any writing goals or resolutions for 2009?

(For someone who said coming up with a question was hard, she sure did a good job -- coming up with four!)  Kate always comes before me in the chain, and Michelle is next!

1. What writing related things have you done in the past?

I think that most people know I've been writing for a long time, and that I write both fiction and nonfiction.  As is I think true across publishing, I've had more success seeing my nonfiction work in print, particularly because of my psychology background.  

Obviously one of my biggest projects was and is the Archetype Writing website, since I literally wrote a book's worth of information on psychology (and writing) for writers.  The site continues to grow, both through the work of other talented writers and through my own efforts.

I also did all the writing for GatchOnline, my other major website, which is about an anime that originated in 1972.  It was such a cult hit that it's been re-translated, re-imagined, and re-broadcast in every generation since; now Imagi Animation Studios is working on a CGI movie to be released in 2010.  My site has opened some really interesting doors for me.  Sandy Frank Entertainment, the company that translated the show I watched as a kid, was so impressed with my summary of the show that for several years they decided to use it on their own website.  I've also has some great interactions with the comic book artists who were responsible for the 2002 comics.

2. What WiPs (works in progress) are you working on now?
I'm currently revising an urban fantasy with romantic elements called A Touch of Madness.  

Shadowwalker, the urban fantasy/paranormal romance (not sure which it is yet) I wrote during NaNoWriMo '08, is also firmly in the WIP category.  
Finally, I have a manuscript without a title that's about 4/5 edited, though it's currently on the back burner because of the other two projects above.  It's science fantasy or maybe dark fantasy. Those fine delineations among genres confuse me.

3. Do you have anything brewing for the future?
I'm starting to think about possibilities for other nonfiction book proposals.  I need to buckle down and do some hard brainstorming.

4. Are you setting any writing goals or resolutions for 2009?
I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions.  Jess gave such a great answer in response to this question: "Instead of just choosing positive goals one time a year, I try to be consistently aware of it through the entire year."

I do hope I learn as much about the writing world this year as I did last year.  I thought I had a really good handle on most of it, but by joining a group of other serious writers at Forum  and on, I've learned more about other people's experiences.  Comparing them to my own has normalized some of my struggles, and the support of a group of people I respect, admire, and enjoy has fortified my determination  to keep working towards additional publications.

I do hope to blog more often here, and my enthusiasm for the Blog  has helped with that.  I have some good ideas for ways to keep this blog more lively!  If you have ideas for me too, please feel free to share!

I'm really pleased with the number of subscribers I'm carrying for this blog lately, so I think you all are appreciating more frequent posts, too.  I'd really love to read a bit about what your writing pasts and futures are like -- it would help me get to know my readers and perhaps tailor the blog (and Archetype website) a bit more to your interests and tastes.  So please take a moment to comment below, and feel free to include suggestions and links to your own blogs and websites!

Happy New Year, everyone.

Psst! QT Contest: Link Lottery

Surely with all my raving about how great is, you've at least gone to see what all the fuss is about?  (If you haven't and have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a quick explanation I wrote up.)

If you've signed up for the free version to try it out -- or even if you haven't yet -- you might be eyeing the premium membership to decide if it's really as great as we all say it is.  (It is!)  Well, now's your chance to get a full year's premium subscription for free!  There will be weekly winners for as long as the contest runs.

  1. The Blog (where yours truly is part of the blogging team) is featuring a Link Lottery contest.  Joining in the fun is easy.
  2. For every new link you add to the internet, you get one chance to win.
  3. After you've added the new link/s, you send an email to to let the site webmaster know where to find them.  Enter as many times as you like.
  4. Every Friday, the webmaster will perform a Google search for QueryTracker links and select one of the results at random. The person who created the selected link will receive a year's premium subscription to QT.
If you're not sure how to create a link, visit the contest announcement over on the QT Blog.

More Contests & Agent Feedback

Query Letter Critiques

Questions about Submissions
  • On Monday, January 12th, Miss Snark's First Victim will be open for submissions to the latest Secret Agent -- Are you Hooked? contest.  Submissions are only open for 24 hours or until Authoress has received 50 entries, so plan ahead!  The contest is only open to people who have completed manuscripts, and this time the contest is for authors of children's literature.  More information via the link above.


Have You Seen Savage Chickens?

If you haven't yet run across cartoonist Doug Savage's Savage Chickens, you're missing out.  All of his Post-It-note cartoons are hilarious, but occasionally he tops himself with a psychological or writing-related one that really makes my day.  Doug was kind enough to give me permission to share a few of his cartoons with you here, so enjoy!  

You can subscribe to Savage Chickens via email or your favorite RSS/XML reader from the Savage Chickens homepage at  (The subscribe links are in the center column; scroll down if you don't see them.)

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