Celebrating My Writing Slump

This past weekend I attended the DFW Writer’s Conference (Dallas/Fort Worth, for those of us not from the South).  Let me just say, this conference rocked more than Jon Bon Jovi, and I even stood behind him in concert once on National TV!  That’s another tale.

I truly do recommend attending this conference, or one closer to you if cost is a concern, because the information and MOTIVATION that come out of these sessions is priceless.  Plus, here’s a bunch of the writers/bloggers I met there:  Kait Nolan, Julie Glover, Tiffany A. White, Jenny Hansen, Kristen Lamb, Donna Newton, Piper Bayard, Nigel Blackwell, Jillian Dodd, Roni Loren, Melinda VanLone, Ingrid Schaffenburg, Candace Havens, Kendra Highley, Joann Mannixfellow Life List Club blogger David N. Walker, and New York Times Bestselling Author James Rollins    

Don’t believe me?  I’ve got proof!

Jenny Hansen, David N. Walker, Jillian Dodd

Me, Tiffany A. White, Julie Glover

Donna Newton, Nigel Blackwell, Ingrid Schaffenburg

Piper Bayard, Me, Jenny Hansen

Me and Kristen Lamb

Me and Kait Nolan

James Rollins, Me – How cool is that?!

Piper Bayard, Ingrid Schaffenburg, Kristen Lamb, Me, Donna Newton and of course, Spawn

Now, why exactly are we celebrating my writing slump?

The DFW Con is my second writing conference.  Last year I attended the Madison, Wisconsin Annual Writer’s Institute.  You can check out my conference posts if you like:  The Do Re Mi of Conference Attending, Creativity? How to Force More of It and Have Fun Too, and City Slickers and Social Media.

Here’s a little bit of backstory of what happened between that conference and this one:

1.  I met a group of people at the conference who I totally connected with, who were all writing in the same genre as me (paranormal/fantasy) and who had blogs!  Squeee!  We swapped contact info and started our own online critique group, rotating weeks and sending in 10 pages.

  • Oh yah, it totally bombed.  About 3 months in, people were no longer sticking to the schedule, everyone was at such different pacing, many weren’t even blogging regularly (not moi!), and some took on different projects altogether.

2.  So, I had an opportunity to join another writing group.  The Warrior Writer’s Boot Camp!  We focused on making the synopsis clear and the key characters strong.  This was so helpful!  But it also showed me more holes in my story, and I had to make so many changes I no longer knew what story I was writing.

  • What I learned here was invaluable.  It was great to have a group fully dive in with feedback and meaningful questions.  I also realized this was no longer a story I knew how to write because it had entirely changed.

3.  Then NaNoWriMo happened!  Ok, here it is!  All or nothing, I’m cracking this baby out in one month!  Not sure where I’m going, doesn’t matter!  I’m writing this bad book boy!

  • Um, hello, I work in retail!  What was I thinking trying to whip out 50K on a book I hadn’t plotted or outlined well during the peak month of Christmas shopping?!  Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I’m celebrating my writing slump because I learned some hard lessons along the way. It was irrevocably and irretrievably pounded into my brain this weekend that I had not planned well.  I half-a**ed my book outline and pantsed the rest expecting word nirvana to appear for me with little effort. I wasted time. Plain and simple. I wasted time, and I let myself down.

A few things have changed for me between that last conference and this one. For one, while I was one of the few people at the previous conference who had started blogging, now everybody has a blog, and they also have a twitter handle, a facebook page, they’re on Pinterest, and they’re launching their own website.  Second, the whole market has changed. Where self-publishing was represented by a panel here and there, in the course of one year, at least one session each hour covered a panel or speaker discussing and promoting self-publishing options and how to hybrid with traditional publishing.

There were things that remained the same too. We know that we’re living in the Wild Wild West of Publishing now. Things are changing rapidly and every day we don’t actively write or market our book is a day wasted in this fast-paced technology driven world. There are more options than ever, but it’s important to research them and plan your platform and marketing pitch just as much as it’s important to edit and revise your work until it’s the best possible writing.

Truths:

Traditional publishers are looking for the goose that lays the golden egg.  If the goose stops laying golden eggs, then the publishers are going to kill the goose and roast him for dinner.  So, what that means for us as writers, is we always have to keep writing. We’ve got to have a plan for what that next project is going to be.  And if we don’t, expect to get fried by your agent.

Sound harsh? Think of it this way: Don’t you want people to demand more books from you? If you’re like me, working on that first novel, what’s your plan for the next one? If you haven’t thought about it, you’re in danger of becoming a one hit wonder. And that’s only IF you get the first one published.

 But wait…

Author James Rollins (image courtesy goodreads.com)

Here’s a success story of epic proportions. James Rollins, remember me mentioning him, the NYT Bestselling Author? Yah, that one! During his keynote speech, he shared with us while he was still a veterinarian starting out writing, he wrote several different books, some in the thriller genre and some in the fantasy genre. He also received about 50 rejections letters, including one particularly personal handwritten note that read, “This is unpublishable.” But, he kept writing.

He happened to meet, at a conference no less, an agent who was interested in his fantasy series, a storyline previously unsupported by his other agent. Now, he was in the midst of two agents wanting to help publish his work, but only because he continued to write books even when it seemed no one wanted to read them.

Still not sold on the planning and preparedness of this process as a business strategy? Well, how many of you are hoping for the proverbial writer’s dream of quitting your day job, telling your boss to suck it, and moving into the castle across the moat from J.K. Rowling?  Then you better plan to make some money on your books.

Author Lori Wilde (image courtesy pinterest.com)

Bestselling author Lori Wilde was another speaker at the conference and she broke it down like this:

  • On average, most writers will make about $15,000/year on their book.
  • Subtract the 15% share the agent takes of that.
  • Subtract the ___% share the publisher takes off of that.
  • And now you’re left with your shiny new book in print that your boss at Starbucks won’t let you put next to the Pike’s Place roast on Buy One Get One Tuesdays!

So what you need to do is determine how much money you want to make a year, and based on the above numbers, calculate how many books you’d need to write and publish each year.

I’m not sharing this information to depress you into taking your crinkled pages of manuscript as scratch paper for next month’s grocery list. Well, maybe I am, it betters my chances of success. I’m sharing this information because I think it’s so crucial to know about your business if you want to be a writer. A writer with more than one book out there and who doesn’t have to also work the drive thru window her entire career.

A few of my favorite de-slumping activities (I’m an expert at slumping, so I get to make up words about it) are:

  1. Experience the world with all 5 senses (Blindfold yourself if you have to!)
  2. Listen to the sound of silence.  When you hear noise/nature again, it will all be amplified.
  3. “Even if it’s a negative thing, stop and appreciate it because it’s teaching you something.” – Lori Wilde
  4. Get back to the basics.
  5. Write something totally different.
  6. Don’t whine!  Breathe and then get it over with.

All of us have slumps, when do you hit yours? What advice got you out of it? What tricks or tips help you move past it?

What do you think of the ever-changing nature of our business? Are you excited about this Wild Wild West of publishing? Do you know another writer success story?

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67 responses

  1. Incredible advice, Jess! So, yes, the last year has been an interesting one. Right with you on Warrior Writers – great system but I lost my story in there somewhere. It’s mostly back now though.

    I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned from a little over a year online, “connected”, is to trust in yourself. There is a ton of great advice out there from a ton of (mostly) well-meaning people who are speaking with a ton of experience. That is three tons. If one takes it all to heart and tries to accomplish it all, well, then those three tons will crush your spirit to do it at all. I wasn’t until I stepped back and realized that in the course of learning it all and trying to apply it that I’d lost my desire to write that I decided the better course was to just write and not worry about all the advice. It will still be there IF I need it. Big IF. Yep.

    So, Jess, I hope this means that your slump is at an end. Been there myself (and still am in some ways), but one thing I learned from the slump: Life loses a certain desirable luster when I’m not writing and no matter what people think of what I do, well, I’m going to keep on writing and let them worry about their own opinions.

    Thanks again for sharing all of this. By the way, Witkins (see I never forget) – this post is the first one I’ve ever read on my phone – been working on a few personal tech advancements. Just wanted to share that – so glad I followed/found you all those months ago. Stay strong and be well :)

    1. Oh Lempp, can I just give you a big cyber hug right now! You are an amazing friend who never fails to reach out to people with support and kindness and laughter. I thank you for sharing your own slump with me, your empathy is an honor to have. I think my slump is ending, yes, but my biggest takeaway is to plan and outline better.

      Even coming out of a slump can still feel like a slump so I’m really trying to take Lori Wilde’s advice to heart. She said even if you’re stuck, take a moment and appreciate it because you’re learning something. I didn’t know it at the time those months ago, but I was learning many lessons, and they’re really only clear now that I’ve had some time and space to comprehend them. I even thought of a workable way to tell the story I wanted to.

      I won’t say I hope, because I KNOW you’re having those same revelations. I wish you all the support and time you need to keep writing. Thank you for your words.

      And P.S. we’re both getting fancy with our tech skillz. I just downloaded the WP app on my phone so I too can stay in touch easier. AND the amazing Julie Glover taught me how to resize a photo so now my twitter picture is a current one! And my background shows La Crosse! Lovin my mad abilities! LOL

      1. Of course you can hug me and have it reciprocated *smile*

        I typed out Lori’s advice and have it in my writers binder under “motivation” – yeah, we all need a kick from time to time. That WP app, at least for Android has caused me some issues (can’t download it for some reason) but hope to be hip and cool like you there soon as well.

        By the way, groundwork is already laid for me to be at DFWcon in 2013, now just have to wait the year to get there.

        Love the new pic (and all the ones in the post) :)

    2. I kind of want to give him a big cyber-hug too! Especially now that I know we’ll have him at DFWcon next year (WOOT!!!).

  2. I didn’t realize I was in a slump until this conference. It hit me between the eyes when I realized I was pitching the same story I’d pitched last year! As Candace Havens said, there’s no excuse for that. None. So now…no excuses. Keep writing, keep moving forward. I loved James Rollins, he had such great advice! And I’m glad you got the photo sorted out :-)

    1. Candace Havens was awesome wasn’t she! I really enjoyed speaking with her and will take much of her advice to home. She was the first person who I felt legitimized how the day job hours can get in the way but also gave concrete tips and self stories of making it work. I so appreciated that!

  3. Coleen Patrick | Reply

    This is a great post Jess! Love the advice–and the boost to my motivation. Plus it was great to see all the WANA faces. Thanks! :)

    1. I hope we see yours added next year! Thank you Coleen for all your kind comments and twitter love! You must come party with the WANAs in person now!

  4. It was a great conference, Jess, because of getting to meet people like you I’ve known on Twitter but never met in person. It was a FUN weekend. Oh, yeah, we learned some stuff, too.

    1. Oh my gosh, I’m feeling so wiped today but energized too. It was just wonderful meeting everyone and I feel like I was given so much information at the conference and now it’s up to each of us to make the most it!

  5. Karen McFarland | Reply

    I can feel the excitement jumping off the page from your fabulous weekend Jess! Thanks so much for sharing the photos and info with us. It’s the next best thing to being there! Love that WWBC and Donna Newton! Now that you’ve got me motivated, I’m off to work on the WiP! :)

    1. Donna is BRILLIANT isn’t she? We’re all trying to get her to write up a thesaurus or dictionary for us to translate her British expressions. She’s so adorable and sweet, I love her.

      Now get back to that WIP!

  6. Mine isn’t so much a slump as a what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-write-about-next?! dearth of ideas. I’ve got several manuscripts tucked away, and No Time For Kings was a complete rewrite of an earlier one, so I might go the same route with the other story that I think has potential (after some major tweaking).

    Sounds like a great conference, and congrats on meeting James Rollins!

    1. Are there any cool writers conferences in the pacific northwest I should check out? I heard a couple people were going to one in Seattle and I never caught the actual name of it. Now, I don’t really need an excuse to go to Portland/Seattle area, but meeting you and other awesome writers would be a bonus for sure!

  7. Hi Jess. Great to meet you this weekend. The conference was brilliant, lots of great people and fabulous classes … and it wound up SO quickly ;)

    I’m in an equal kind of slump. I spent half the conference thinking “bloody hell, I came here last year and still don’t have a book to talk to an agent about.” But as much as that bugs me, I think your advice, “write something totally different,” is the best, because it puts my past work behind me and leaves me free to start something new – and new is always good!

    Hope your luggage turned up in the end :)

    Cheers!

    1. Oh Nigel, you’re bloody brilliant! And hilarious too! Just know you’re not alone in the crowd with your thinking, I am so right there with ya. If you want to set up an accountability plan for your next project, let me know. We’d at least both be starting out. Perhaps through ROW80? Kait totally talked me into joining. But if you’re using the critique group in town, that’s totally cool. Just throwin it out there!

      And yes, my bag turned up finally!

      1. Hi Jess. Ok, if you want to start being accountable for your next project, I do too. I’ll look into the row80 thing. Drop me a line when you have an idea when you want to start.

        Cheers!

        1. Absolutely! Will do!

  8. This post is awesome, Jess! (And I’m not just saying that because my pic is up there.) I love the way you broke down what you learned and how it will affect your future writing. Some people will attend a writers’ conference, feel motivated and inspired in that moment, and then come home and do nothing different. In which case, what was the point? We must keep writing and keep growing in our craft and business savvy. Great advice. Also, I had marvelous time with such fabulous writers and had the joy of spending a lot of time with you!

    1. Ok, first off, thank you for teaching me how to resize a photo! My twitter technology skills just doubled. LOL

      Second, thank you again for letting me room me with you! Sunday night was lonely, I had no one to giggle with.

      Third, thank you for being your awesome self and always sharing with the table what you learned in your sessions so we all had full knowledge from the conference. You are amazing! And the stories about your kids are equally fun. ;)

      Best of luck with your YA book!

      1. Oh, you made me smile so big! I hope we can get together again.

  9. GREAT post, Jess!! How did you have time to write all of that already? I’m delaying my conference post until Friday and it still probably won’t be as fabOoolous as yours.

    It was lovely meeting you! I hope we get together again soon. :)

    1. Oooh, are you and Chrissie planning a road trip my way?! That would be so fun!

      I think this post had to come out. LOL. I listen to a lot of audio books while traveling, and I had to “rewind” because I kept just thinking about the conference and its impact on me. A lot of things hit home and I really want to make some changes.

      It was so wonderful meeting you! You and Jillian are amazing women and so inviting. I’m convinced, we do need to hang out more! Lots of success to you on your book!

  10. Jess! This was a great post. BUT did you have to rub it in? You got to hang out with all the cool kids. Hell, you ARE one of the cool kids! Dagnabit! So happy you had a great experience. I’d like to make it next year — but look how much can change in a year! ;-) Go Team Whiskey!

    1. You’ve gotta come next year. I met Jess this time. Now if I could just meet you, too.

    2. You were missed, Renee, believe me! I wish Team Whiskey had been there. David and I were talking up your talents at the table cause we both just love you!

      Hugs! You’re one of the cool kids too, even if you didn’t help me devour Jillian’s Bacon Ranch dip in the hotel room. OMG! Yum!

      1. Am devastated! Seriously! I hope you plan to go again! I want to go to there. With you!

  11. Jess, I had a great time reading this post. It was almost as good as being at the conference. :D

    I read with interest your journey with your slump. Hey, I’ve been through them too. I can so relate to your words about half-a$$ing. When I first started writing, I half-a$$ed a lot. I was under the mistaken impression that I could pound out some undercooked crud and have people think it was gourmet. Live and learn, huh?

    I often tell people that if I had known it would be this hard to develop my fiction writing muscle, I would not have bothered. But the thing is, if I had quit before I started, I would have missed this wonderful dance with all my new writing friends.

    When I refer to the dance, I’m speaking of the one from the country song. Basically, the song says, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.” And that’s true of love, writing, and so many other important things in life.

    So I guess we have to resolve to keep on rockin’ and just deal with the hard parts when they come.

    1. Catie, I love you. I mean that. Like Gene and Renee, you’ve been someone in my life who’s taken notice and sought me out to help in more ways than one. I don’t have words to tell you thank you enough. I wish you could’ve been with us, the WANAs would’ve gobbled you up. We all love you to death! LOL. Hope to save you a seat at next year’s conference!

      1. What a nice thing for your to say. I do intend to be at the conference next year. :D

        1. YAY!!!! You and Gene and Renee would be a Trifecta of Awesome! You’re one of my fave people too. :-)

  12. Thanks for the informative summary … and the photos! What fun to see all those “WANA family members” hanging out with you! We all have slumps, Jess. It goes with the territory! But some of our best ideas come out of those slumps so don’t worry, just ride it out! Write on, write now!

    1. I love it! “Write on, write now!” That may be going on my desk along with James Rollins’ shared phrase, “Today I give myself permission to write crap.” It’s all about showing up to the game!

  13. Shannon Esposito | Reply

    Love the pics and love the info you’ve shared! You must be on cloud 9 still. It is amazing how fast things have changed in a year!

    ps. I vote for your next post to be about that Bon Jovi story :-)

    1. LOL. Oh if you could see what I saw standing behind Bon Jovi!

  14. Hi, Jess. Thanks for sharing both your experience as well as your advice. I’m so jealous of you for having gotten to rub elbows with those folks. I recognized many faces in those photos…
    I agree with everything you’ve mentioned and dedicate myself to improving everything writerly that I do (See, now I’m making up words!). Yet, I also want to recall the fact that I never thought I would ever have a book published after nearly two decades of daydreaming about it. I’ll have another this year, and am 50k into the third novel. If I get down I just recall that I’m living the dream! It is a magical thing, isn’t it?
    Anyway, much success to all of us as we chase those dreams.

    -Jimmy

    1. Now that’s a warm and fuzzy feeling comment if ever I heard one! Thank you for sharing your success story with us, Jimmy, and as always for your kind and thoughtful words. Cheers to all of us who go on to chase our dreams!

  15. Aw…. How fun was that! Thanks for sharing the photos, Jess. Did you recognize everyone straight away? So glad you had a blast. :)

    Great tips — especially that last one. I think many of us writers psyche ourselves out. I’ve trained my fingers to write when I sit down to the computer. (Thank Pavlov’s dogs.) Not always great or even good writing, mind you, but it works. Then when my eyes and brain feel gluey, I take breaks. Exercise, getting out and connecting with friends really help shake things back into action.

    1. All of those tips were brought up by multiple speakers, so you’re doing it right, August!

      And no, I didn’t recognize everyone right away. I knew David, Donna, and Tiffany right away. You know who threw me off, Kait Nolan! She has curly hair! LOL. I absolutely heart that girl now, and may stalk her. You all should! Love, love, love her! So fun, everyone was!

  16. Glad to know you guys had so much fun, and thank you for sharing your tips. I agree, many of us psyche ourselves out, and sometimes I think that’s because it’s the easy way out. Giving in to the idea we can’t do anymore or write any better is my way of copping out of doing the work. It’s something I struggle with almost every day, but it makes the feeling of accomplishment even better when I don’t give in.

    Thanks again, Jess!

    1. Stacy, your words are so honest I thank you for writing them. I battle with that same issue daily too. All we can do is continue to show up each day and write. Eventually, it will get easier, and even if it doesn’t, I’m damn happy I tried!

  17. Jess, thanks for an inspirational post, and for making me feel (almost) as if I were there, peeking over your shoulder! Ah, well, maybe next year….

    I feel ya and Gene on the motivation/feeling lost and overwhelmed bit. I had to step back and look back over what I’m doing – 18K words into my second novel and I hit a brick wall, LOL! Duh, thought I’d had it all plotted out, but it was full of HOLES. Now, one huge eraserboard and lots of colored markers later, I think I’ve got it clear.

    I like what you said about planning for the future, and writing something “totally different.” After this book, I’ve got a crazy idea kicking around in my head, for a genre I’ve never written in before and don’t even know if I can write for it…my agent would probably have a cow to see me turn in a MG mystery story after two adult historical mysteries…she may not even represent that genre. IDK, we will see! Thanks for sharing your journey!

    Kathy

    1. Oh I soooo feel your pain. After those three routes, I had gotten 16K into the WIP before realizing I’d written about Hole City. So I guess, the comforting thing is We Aren’t Alone! It’s all about moving forward. Each of us learned a lesson, and now we’re onto the next thing. All my best to you!

      P.S. Totally thought of you at DFW Con cause I attended Jennifer Goloboy’s class on writing historical fiction. I was like, “Oh, I wish Kathy was here to bum with!” :)

  18. Oh, I am soooo jealous! What a fantastic weekend.

    Lack of planning has been my biggest obstacle. I’m learning. . . slowly. Love your de-slumping tips. I know I get so caught up in ‘doing’ that I forget to slow down and re-charge by listening, feeling, experiencing.

    Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm and your insights!

    1. Hi Lynette! Thank you for commenting. If you read through the comments you’ll see you’re not alone. Planning was my downfall and so many others as well. As long as we learn from it and don’t keep repeating the same mistakes, then it’s worth it. To keep moving forward.

  19. Amazing post, Jess! I love the pictures – you met so many great people and it sounds like you had a blast partying with them! You brought back some great tips and from the tone of this post I’ll bet you’ll be headed in the right direction now with your writing. I’ve had frequent slumps where I haven’t written anything for weeks at a time. Still when I have a stuck period, I do switch to another project until things start clicking again. It really helps.
    After reading Stephen King’s (my new boy toy) On Writing, I was energized and inspired and haven’t quit writing yet! I didn’t plot my story well because I thought it was going to be a 3k short, but it has since turned into a novella. My characters decided they had more to say, plus it will have a sequel. So I’ve been plotting scene by scene.
    As far as getting overwhelmed with all there is to learn, I decided from the beginning to learn to write first. I spent 6 months reading everything I could find and still rely on Joanna Penn-her advice and techniques are rock solid. Then I moved to social media. I had blogged and had websites before so it didn’t take me long to get back into that. The rest of SM was tougher because I’m shy and not very imaginative when it comes to finding things to talk about. I still struggle with Twitter.
    More recently I’ve been learning all I can about marketing and self-pubbing. My first draft of my book is nearly done and I need to make a checklist for myself of all the tasks ahead, in some kind of order. There is so much technical stuff to learn that this is where I’m feeling overwhelmed and am trying to remember to take it one step at a time.
    Anyway, as much as I adore Bon Jovi, Stephen King is my pin-up guy now. ;)
    You will get there, Jess. You’ll turn your story around. Plot scenes on index cards, that way you can have it all laid out in front of you and see where there may be holes. That helped me a lot on the original novel I began, which is now on the back burner.The other thing that I’ve begun doing and it helps immensely is putting myself in the scene. Sounds like a given, right? It wasn’t for me. I’ve been able to make my scenes so much better when I’ve put myself in my protags shoes.
    I am prepared for ‘what’s next?’. My sequel and then I’m writing a series after that. I hope to have 3-4 books on the market before Christmas.
    Hang in there, Jess. You’ve been inspired, now go write and don’t stop no matter how crappy the writing is! Hugs–glad you’re home safe and sound.

    1. Marcia, it was so lovely chatting with you before the conference! I hope to pick up some craft books and study up as part of my planning process, and Stephen King is a good pin up boy for that. LOL

      Your progress sounds amazing, Marcia! Please keep us posted on your launch dates and let me know if I can help!

  20. Reetta Raitanen | Reply

    Sounds like you had a blast at the conference and learned so much. Thank you for sharing the pictures and the great advice. It was encouraging to hear about your slump since I am lost with my writing direction right now. I’m even undecided about the genre I want to write in.

    1. Ah yes, well that was me for the last oh…6 months. Hopefully Lori’s tips and James’ tips will help you get going again, and if it’s still not working, set it aside and start something new because honestly I just figured out how to make that original story work so many months later. Sometimes you need a little space to be able to see the big picture again. Good luck to you Reeta!

  21. [...] The conference theme this year was all about the changing face of publishing.  If you’re interested in that topic, I shared a personal and informative post yesterday at my place, Celebrating My Writer’s Slump! [...]

  22. I think I would recognize everyone at the conference except I for Ingrid. I will check out her blog next!
    I am from Madison and am so amused that they have a great writer’s conference. :) I could stay with my mom and dad! Hahaha!
    I went to grade school, high school and college with Joe Sweeney and I’m wondering if he spoke at the conference since he wrote a best-selling book on social media. Do you remember him?
    Great post and thanks for sharing your experiences!

    1. Hmm, doesn’t sound familiar to me, but he have been a speaker a different year. The biggest difference b/t the WI conference and this TX one is that the WI one focuses on workshopping, at least it did last year when I went. Their theme was “Writers helping Writers” so a lot of speakers discussed craft tips, we had lots of writing prompts, and we all left with a huge packet of the info. from EVERY class, which I loved because undoubtedly there’ll be a time where you want to hit up more than one class in that timeframe and you can’t, so having the tools from it was great. The TX conference theme was on the changing face of publishing, so it was so much about getting a handle on the business, and there were a few craft sessions too. I loved both of them! I met amazing people at both!

      On a plus, the WI one is held at UW-Madison, so you’re right in the heart of downtown state st., so there was more to do, more options to eat, bum around, etc. But I’d like to go back to Dallas and tour their historical sites next year.

      1. I went to school there and worked on State Street for years! You were in my home town! It sounds like they were both great!

  23. Hey, Jess, first time here. Really liked this post. The best way I’ve found to get out of a slump is to have at least ONE person pulling for you. And not a family member or spouse. This is a different kind of support that can only come from a peer who’s been through the same struggles as you. When you’ve got one person like that in your corner telling you that you DO have something say and you know it’s not an ego stroke, that’ll kill any slump.

    1. YES! That’s becoming part of my plan for this next round. You can see I did attempt it, but not everyone was as invested as I would have liked. Big learning lesson. I took Candace Havens’ class and she said the same thing. Hold yourself accountable to other writers. I think that and involving myself in word count sessions on twitter etc will all be good steps because I am the type of personality that can’t stand other people being disappointed in me. If I put it out there in public, you know I’m gonna do my damnedest to complete it!

  24. [...] Ingrid Schaffenburg’s Top Five Lessons from DFWCon  and  Jess Witkins Celebrating her Writing Slump [...]

  25. Thank you, Jess, for including little old me, in your awesome blog post! Here’s me waving to you from sunny Florida!

    I had recently started querying before DFWCON. And what a roller coaster ride that was. Highs and sadly, ultimate lows. I didn’t realize how disheartened I’d become, until I set foot in Texas and discovered this instant tribe of my people. This weekend was an intoxicating experience full of new ideas, new people and a whole new attitude on my part. I’m still walking a few feet off the ground and I hope to keep it that way. I write because, in my eyes, there’s nothing else. And DFWCON helped me remember that.

    Wonderful post! Can’t wait to do it all again next year.

    1. It was wonderful meeting you Joann! I agree that attending conferences is both overwhelming and yet empowering, so motivating. Writing can be a solitary business, but there is a whole tribe of us out there and it’s wonderful to hang out with everyone. Best of luck as you begin querying again and above all writing again!

      Don’t be a stranger, and I won’t either. Looking forward to seeing you at the conference next year!

  26. Awesome advice! And I’m insanely jealous that you got to meet so many cool folk. That’s it! I will figure out a way to go next year. :D

    1. Yay I hope you do come next year; it’ll be so fun! If they find us missing it’ll be because we stayed up watching scary movies.

  27. [...] Celebrating My Writing Slump by Jess Witkins [...]

  28. [...] Jess Witkins boiled down what she learned at DFWcon in THIS amazing post. [...]

  29. [...] Writer (and my awesome conference roommate!) Jess Witkins discusses lessons learned in Celebrating My Writing Slump. [...]

  30. Fantastic post — fun, realistic & positive (despite the depressing numbers…). I think my favorite part was: “Traditional publishers are looking for the goose that lays the golden egg. If the goose stops laying golden eggs, then the publishers are going to kill the goose and roast him for dinner. ”

    I’m glad I made it to DFW Con this year. And hope to make it again next year :)

    1. Me too! I can’t think of any reasons not to go! Except maybe the cost, but I’m already saving! It was a great investment and like hanging out with so many friends. So nice to have met you there! Did you go to Lori’s class? I can’t remember now if it was Lori, or it may have been James that made the point about the golden egg laying writer. LOL. Sad, but true.

      1. I did go to Lori’s class, and can’t recall this analogy…so must have been James. I wish I had clones of me so I could attend every class!

  31. [...] wait too long, they (and your publishers) might forget about you.  I wrote more on this topic in Celebrating My Writing Slump and Guerrilla Tactics For [...]

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