For this blog chain, Elana has a question and a demand ;-)
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 QueryTracker.net 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. icanhascheezburger.com is one; failblog.org 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!
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 QueryTracker.net 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.
I divided the Writing & Editing into 2 new sections:
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.
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
2. What WiP's (work in progress) are you working on now?
(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!
Surely with all my raving about how great QueryTracker.net 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.
- The QueryTracker.net Blog (where yours truly is part of the blogging team) is featuring a Link Lottery contest. Joining in the fun is easy.
- For every new QueryTracker.net link you add to the internet, you get one chance to win.
- After you've added the new link/s, you send an email to links@QueryTracker.net to let the site webmaster know where to find them. Enter as many times as you like.
- 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.
Query Letter Critiques
- Want to see an agent critique query letters? (You can learn a lot that way!) Read QueryShark regularly.
- Want someone to critique your query letter? Want to practice critiquing others' query letters (because you can learn a lot that way, too)? First, try the Query Review forum at QueryTracker.net Forum. Then, once you've got it polished, consider sending your letter to QueryShark herself (who is actually Janet Reid at FinePrint, one of my favorite blogging agents).
- 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.
You can subscribe to Savage Chickens via email or your favorite RSS/XML reader from the Savage Chickens homepage at http://www.savagechickens.com/. (The subscribe links are in the center column; scroll down if you don't see them.)