Saturday, July 9, 2016

Writing Your Way Out of a Slump

The writing business can have its ups and downs. If you’ve been successful at any time in your writing career, you know the rush you get when things are going your way. But what about the times when there’s little or no work or when you just feel empty? How do you get yourself going again or at least maintain some sort of status quo?

Too many writers only look forward to the next article or story. And if you’ve been writing books, the next book. But sometimes you put so much energy into moving forward that your mind just stops and says, “Wait a minute. I need a break.” This especially happens after working on a long book project where the writing adrenaline has been pumping hard for weeks or months.

To get yourself back on track after taking a break or when your motivational power is at its lowest ebb, try looking back. Whether you know it or not, you’ve amassed an incredible amount of information as well as product inventory. What about all those articles or short stories you’ve got in your files that have been published once. And don’t forget the ones you sent out numerous times only to be rejected each time.  Recycling that information or those pieces in your files may just be the answer.

The simplest form of recycling is to sell reprints. This is easy money. All you have to do is find new markets for pieces you have laying around. It used to be that these had to be secondary markets, but in today’s hodge-podge publishing world, you can sell anything to anyone as long as the piece has been idle for some time. In fact, you may want to freshen up a piece before sending it out or in the case of an article, slant it to a different readership. Doing so makes the piece a whole new product.

Another way of recycling is to rewrite a piece completely. This could even be done to a short story that you gave up on a while back. Since you haven’t really looked at it in a while, you may see why it didn’t sell in the first place. You may even consider writing other stories along the same lines to produce a series based on the same theme.

Redoing an article is somewhat different. Articles can be updated, even ones written 30 years ago, as long as the topic is still relevant. Or perhaps the topic is even more relevant today than when you first wrote it. Take the subject of solar energy. Solar technology is finally at a point that average homeowners are asking about it and seeking special grants and financing to get it installed. When you first wrote about it, it may have been just coming to the public’s attention and was super expensive, which limited the publishing potential for your article.

If you write non-fiction, look to trade publications. While they don’t pay as much as consumer publications, they usually need more articles. You can turn articles you’ve written into marketable pieces once again.

As with Mastercard, master the possibilities. Take parts of articles and combine them into new ones. Or expand sidebars you once wrote into shorter full articles. Editors love shorter pieces, so they have a better chance of getting published.

And while you’re searching through your inventory, you may run across an idea for another book which eventually will put you back in the running. Whatever you do to get yourself out of a writing slump, keep it short. Don’t get involved in lengthy projects. Work with what you have. You’ll be amazed at what develops.

No comments: