Getting through those awful writing weeks when nothing works

My last couple of weeks? They’ve been pretty lousy on the writing front:

  • My comic Third Wheel on Tapastic has been losing subscribers these days faster than it’s been gaining them. At its height, the comic had 104 subscribers. Now it’s done to 94, eight episodes in. Don’t know why, but it’s awfully depressing. My page views have dropped, too.
  • I pitched another series to an independent publishing house. The response? Crickets.
  • An artist I’m working with on yet another comic series has disappeared without a trace. He sent over sketches, but nothing else. Now it looks like I’ll have to start the search for a new artist for this series, which is always a drag.
  • I pitched a story to Bloody Disgusting, a site that covers horror movies. I was proud of the pitch and the story idea. I’ve received no response.
  • I reached out to five different webcomic artists, asking if they would be interested in being interviewed for this blog. They didn’t say “no.” They didn’t say anything.
  • A comic series I’ve just starting writing has hit a dead end. I’m stuck, and my enthusiasm for the project has plummeted. In fact, my enthusiasm for most everything I’m working on at this moment has dropped. And I don’t know why.

So … it’s been a crummy couple of weeks. And there’s no sign of things turning around.

There are stretches where everything seems to be going well, both in your work life and your personal life. Those weeks are great. You want to jump out of the bed in the morning and get to writing.

But on those other weeks, where everything creative that you’re working on seems to be at a stalemate? Those are the tough ones.

I write for a living, mostly journalism work. I’ve gotten good at it. But there are times when writing another story about tax breaks, emergency funds or mortgage payments makes me want to slam my computer shut. Without this writing, though, I’d never be able to experiment with comics writing.

But when my more creative writing isn’t going well, it’s tempting to back off on the writing that I have to do for my freelance clients. If I do that, though, the bills don’t get paid. I can’t afford my son’s college tuition if I don’t pump out those stories on credit scores and life insurance policies.

Sometimes, though, I do have to take a break from the more creative writing. It’s one thing to force out a story on the importance of ordering your credit report. It’s another to whack away at a comic strip about depression. That first type of writing is what I think of as nuts-and-bolts type stuff, stories that I can write with a formula in mind. I might not be feeling good or creative, but I can still write these stories.

But the creative stuff? If that’s not coming naturally, I can’t force it. So I’ll walk away from it for a bit.

That’s what I’m doing now. I’ve finished all the scripting for my Third Wheel script, and I’m putting the finishing touches on a story I’ve written focusing on the 1980s horror movies I loved as a kid.

I’ve started a few other projects, but I’ve not been able to push out more than a page or two before I give up. I’m just not feeling them.

The hope is that something good will break soon. That’s been my experience. When things aren’t going well, the secret is to keep writing something, even if it’s not something particularly inspiring. Eventually, the creative ebb will end and the words will start coming again.

And all those unanswered emails and pitches? You never know — maybe the good news will come in a flood.

Until then, keep hacking away. Write something, anything, and wait for the spark to ignite again.




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