#WritingThroughTheStrain: Romy Sommer
We're delighted to have Romy Sommer visiting us at the Pink Heart Society, as she talks about what to do during publishing wait times...
Publishing wait times have always been painfully slow. Even with the advent of digital technology, the average slush pile submission can take a minimum of three months to get a response. In the earliest days of our writing group, when we were still unpublished, my friends and I used to call this period of waiting NTAI (Not Thinking About It).
It doesn’t get much better after publication. Editors are juggling so many balls, they can take months to reply to anything but the most urgent queries from their authors. (Or is that just me?!)
I’ve reached that point now where having an agent would give my career a huge boost, so I’m currently shopping around my latest manuscript to agents. Since fiction is so subjective, even the most brilliant manuscripts take time to find the right home (not that I’m saying mine is brilliant!) and I’m currently on month eight of the agent hunt.
That’s eight months of hoping someone will love this story as much as I do, and fearing they won’t. What if no-one buys this book? It’s the first in a series. Is there any point writing the next in the series if this one doesn’t sell?
But we can’t afford to let the doubt stop us from writing. We can’t afford to put our writing careers on hold every time we wait, and the wait times aren’t going anywhere, so we need to keep on writing.
Which is easier said than done, as I know from hard, personal experience. So I turned to some of my writer friends and asked for their advice on how to write when it would really just be easier to hide under the duvet until the verdict comes in.
Surround Yourself with Cheerleaders
According to Kitty French, author of the recently released Mystery at Maplemead Castle (the second book in her Chapelwick Mysteries series), “surround yourself with a writing group who understand and support each other.”
I agree. My writing group has most definitely kept me sane and writing when the crows of doubt start to circle. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, even when you don’t.
Amp Yourself Up
Best-selling erotic romance author Zara Cox whose latest book Beautiful Liar is on the shelves now, recommends reading as the cure. “Reading my favorite authors always get me amped up to get back to writing.”
Indie medical romance author Catherine Coles says that for her, it’s visualizing what she wants. “So it’s pictures of holidays or things I would like in my home…that’s usually what I have in mind when I tell myself I should be writing – why I want it and what it would change in my life.”
Research also helps, I find. The digger I deep into the setting, back stories, characters’ hobbies or professions, the more excited I get about the story until I can no longer not write.
Write Every Day
Joss Wood, South African romance author published by Harlequin, Tule and Penguin/Random House, says: “Someone smarter than me said that you have to turn on the tap to get water to flow and if you don’t, the pipe rusts with disuse.”
So the longer you delay writing the next thing, the harder it gets.
Kitty French echoed this when she said “Write something new, even when you don’t feel like it. Keep working, keep moving forwards, keep busy.”
No matter whether you write several pages, or just a few paragraphs, keep at it every day. If you’re struggling with the next in a series (as I was) write something completely different. During this eight month hiatus, I’ve written two erotic romances. Because it’s not what I usually write, it’s been easier not to stress about whether they have a future!
Write a blog post, or your character’s biography, or a random scene that excites you. Nothing will be wasted – at the very least you’ll get to know your characters better, and maybe you’ll even end up with some bonus content that will be useful when the book finally sells.
Once you’re back into writing, the words will flow more easily, and you won’t even remember that you’re still waiting.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Sometimes, you’re just not going to feel like writing. If you’re anything like me, you’ll then feel guilty about not writing. So you put more pressure on yourself to write, which makes writing even more difficult, and then you feel even guiltier.
Take a deep breath. Go for a walk. Binge watch your favourite TV show. Hang out with friends. But whatever you do, don’t feel guilty about not writing! In order to write, you need to live a little too. Reward yourself for taking time to re-fill your well. Look for inspiration and ideas in the world around you.
Then, when you return to writing, you’ll be in a much better place to write.
Finally: you are not alone. This is something we all battle with at various times in our writing careers. All authors have experienced what you’re going through, and all of them have won through. You will too!