There are days when it does seem futile but then I have to stop and remember the purpose. I didn't originally start writing just to get published. Writers write because words and stories and characters rumble around inside them and eventually, we have to listen. The only way to truly listen is to pour it onto the page and hope that it makes sense to someone else besides ourselves.
Once you've opened the door to agents, contests, publishing, and recognition, it's hard to close it. But focussing on those things is a surefire way to bring you to a standstill. When you write for something or someone other than yourself, you start building a wall, brick by brick. Every brick takes away from the writer you really are; it becomes less authentic because it's for someone else.
So what do you do when you hit the wall? I think it's different for every writer. For me, I generally try some of the following:
- Walk away. Do something else. Write something else. Read. Play. Shop. Whatever. Just get some space.
- Re-read. A lot of times, when I'm feeling 'woe-is-me' I re-read what I've read. Something that, originally, I was proud of and it reminds me that yes, I can write. Often, when I'm not writing for the right reasons, my work doesn't reflect my ability so it's good to remind myself that I have been successful.
- Music. Music. Music. Music. When you query, you're supposed to mention comparison titles. It shows that you understand the market and where your work would fit within it. This is sometimes very difficult but at least a dozen times a week, I'll hear a song and think, "Hey, that's how X feels!" Songs are emotions put in words and sometimes they do a better job of explaining the point in the journey my characters find themselves. Right now, the songs that reflect my manuscript are: Because of You (Kelly Clarkson), Wasted (Carrie Underwood), and Just a Kiss (Lady Antabellum)
- Twitter is awesome for writers. There's always something on there about how you're feeling right this minute. There's agents, writers, encouragers, and successful authors willing to share and connect. I particularly love Writers Digest and LitRejections because they have awesome articles about how to improve your writing, connect with professionals, and how to not give up.
- Write crap. When I'm cooking, I know if something tastes lousy. It's the same with writing. My palette for my own work is not dead so I know what doesn't work even before my CP's and BFF tell me. I don't always know how to fix it or what exactly is wrong with a certain part but you know it's just not right. That being said, it's sometimes easier to fix than create. So if you write, anything, you can go back and ask "Why isn't that working?"
- Remember that there's life outside of writing. I know. It's hard to remember that there's real characters in the world that you can connect, laugh, and surround yourself with. I often want to curl up and just stay home with my characters. However, if I did, there'd be nothing to write because everything we are and do is affected by what surrounds us. It's important to live your life if you want to write someone else's.
- Blog. I started my day frustrated. My cursor is still at the same spot as when I woke up. Girl standing there looking at boy, at a crossroads, does she take a chance? I don't know yet, but I managed to blog, so at least I got some writing done today, right? And if you're only writing for you, then it all counts.