Monday, September 23, 2013


I had a pretty good summer with writing. I finished the fourth Talera novel and it is off to the editor. But that was about a month and a half ago now and I've been in a state of lethargy to semi-lethargy ever since. I have made progress on one long nonfiction work but definitely could be further along on that if I'd put in a bit more effort. I've got a second project that is essentially done and ready for getting out but I just haven't had the energy to pull the trigger on it. Other than that, I've started several pieces, written the first five or six pages, then let them fizzle. On the weekends I've just been sitting around, watching football and movies mostly, and not even doing as much reading as I probably should.

Lana often tells me I should cut myself some slack, but it too often feels to me as if that's all I'm doing. I keep telling myself I'm gonna pick it up, and I do for a few days, but then slide back down again into...meh. A few weeks back I ordered myself to shake it off and stated clearly to myself that I'd do more in the writing arena and pick up with the blog and with promotions. I did the scorn series here and then fizzled. I haven't done much promotion at all, and part of that is because I'm not sure what to try next.

I realized a year or so ago that I couldn't make headway by working harder. I don't have youth on my side for that anymore. I realized I had to work smarter. Unfortunately, I've cut back on working hard and haven't figured out how to work smarter. The only ways I can figure out to improve my promotional efforts is to work 'harder,' to visit more blogs, join new forums, take more speaking engagements, etc. And so I'm back at square one. I think my lethargy has arisen from this, and it's extended into my writing as well as into promoting.

My mom once told me when we were arguing about one point or another, "Charles, I thought you were smarter than that. I just thought you were smarter than that."  At the time I was convinced I was pretty darn smart and got a big laugh out of her comment.

A few years further on and I'm beginning to think that maybe Mom was right.


Tom Doolan said...

There probably isn't anything anyone can say to you that will help. It's a personal battle, and, as I'm sure others will agree, it's one that we all fight from time to time. I haven't worked on anything fiction-related in months (too much role-playing game stuff).

Suffice it to say, you may not be as smart as you thought you were back then, but I'm confident you're smart enough to get past this. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

There are just these fallow periods and I have come to the conclusion that your sub-conscious is still at work and when you come out of it you will have a productive period based on the work your sub-conscious did while you were away.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The promotion part can be draining. Working smarter works when you know what parts are the smart parts. Otherwise, it's like throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks.

Chris said...

I've certainly changed my focus on what I'm working on, mainly because I haven't really decided how I'll go about the self-promotion stuff when I do get to that point. It's just not something I feel I want to do at the moment, so I'm really not.

Adventuresfantastic said...

I feel pretty much the same at the moment. I've a ton of fiction sitting unfinished/unedited, but I'm not exactly knocking myself out to make any progress.

Scott D. Parker said...

The number one thing I learned this year is to develop a writing streak. Give yourself a modest daily writing goal (500 is a good start) and then just write every day. BUT, don't fault yourself if you (a) write but (b) don't reach your daily writing goal. Just write and start the habit. Make steady progress. And, before you know it, the words will add up.

Believe me, I was in your same boat for years! Heck, I was in that place from Jan - May this year. But I just started writing and, as haphazard a month was May, I started a consecutive-days writing streak. I started on Memorial Day. I haven't stopped. At the beginning, I was very focused on putting the little red Xs on the calendar. Now, the habit is ingrained enough that I end up writing for a few days and then go back and put the Xs on the calendar.

Consecutive days writing streak. Just start and keep going.

Cloudia said...

Seems reflection and 'BE-ing' become more prominent as we wise with age?


Charles Gramlich said...

Tom, unfortunately, you need both smarts and luck. I've gotta work on that luck thing too. :)

Patti, I hope so. I know I keep coming up with ideas. It's finding the strength to finish them that is the problem.

Alex, I seem to be in the spaghetti arena.

Chris, I'm trying, but not enjoying it. Perhaps that is itself part of the problem.

Keith, I know. I'm feeling so, blah.

Scott, I've had that pattern before. My goal was always one good paragraph, and I often wrote more. Lately I've not been able to hold my feet to that fire, though.

Cloudia, indeed, because you realize the time is getting shorter for those things.

ivan said...

When I get like that, I write a letter to the editor of the local paper...on any local matter, maybe even your feeling state.
Might break the logjam.

My area paper is the Toronto Star.

Yours is the Picayune Dealer?


Riot Kitty said...

I think working smarter is good advice for anyone of any age, frankly. I started picking up my fiction project again, then got involved with the foster care stuff and a new program at work, and poof! I need to sit my ass down and write.

Ty said...

Mainly because of the wife's illness, I've not gotten a lot of writing done this year, so I know how you feel. And the age thing has hit me hard the last few years.

That being said, as far as writing goes, Charles, I think you might suffer from a few of the same things as I do ... a variety of interests. It seems the writers, at least today's indie writers, who have success are focusing upon one genre, often a single series within that genre. I would find that boring, so I write in various genres. It seems to me you're in a similar boat.

As for Lana suggesting you cut yourself some slack, she is right. You don't have to write, do you? I mean, from a financial standpoint? I'm not trying to get too much into your business, but it seems to me you're doing well as an educator. I think what you need to ask yourself, or perhaps to occasionally remind yourself of, are your goals as a writer. Would you give up being a professor if your writing career suddenly took off? Would you want to be a full-time writer? Maybe, maybe not. But it seems to me you're already working pretty hard most of the time, or have in the past. A break can be a nice thing, can keep you sane, and can actually help with one's writing, giving you time to clear out the old brain and think.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I can relate. Unfortunately I can't help. Not really. Only you can get yourself out of the lethargy. Sometimes it's as simple as just getting on with it. Sometimes.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ivan, Times Picayune, but pretty close. I used to do letters to the editor. Haven't in ages. Maybe I should.

Riot Kitty, part of it is that there are many interesting and important things to do. I'm more distractable than I'd like.

Ty, Yeah, writing in a lot of different genres means that when I could have been building momentum with westerns, maybe, I was doing something else. but I love writing all kinds of things. I don't have to have the money for necessities, but it is nice to get a little extra to do fun things, since our budget is relatively tight, partly also due to Lana's illness last year. Well, we keep on hanging on.

Lynda, no, no one can really. Generally I find that these things break eventually. I'm ready for it too. Thanks for dropping by.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I know what you mean. However, I think you "are" working harder and smarter both as a writer and a teacher, always thinking, always trying something new and challenging, always evolving. So I think you're entitled to a bit of slackness once in a while.

Charles Gramlich said...

Prashant, thanks. I appreciate that

Ron Scheer said...

At 71, one hears the clock ticking. Any activity beats the alternative. BTW, your mom was right. If you read between the lines, she's saying, you ARE smarter than that.

BernardL said...

You just need to find an idea that stirs the passion. Did you give anymore thought to a YA/new adult novel based on your experience with kids at the college?

Richard Prosch said...

Maybe a new brand of coffee. Or tea. Or something new to jump start the ol' process. Beer as a reward is good...but only goes so far. As we know.

ivan said...

Writer Ty Johnston's comments made me think.
When younger, I used to risk everything, including an untenured professorship--for the words, the beautiful words.
Years later, like a ronin Samurai, I'm all cut up and have a black eye. And too old now to teach.

I did her, but keep re-reading Ecclesiastes, the big apochrypha.
Vanity, vanity.

But maybe there is a revelation from an old Monty Python skit.

I was falling down to earth in my parachute.
On my way down, the Messerschitt pilot cicled me.
He saluted.

Hoo-ha. I can't wait to die.
What a brilliant career move. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Ron, my mom was generally pretty proud of me but she didn't much like it when I didn't agree with her religious views. :)

Bernard, honestly, I've been thinking of trying a Twilight knockoff. That's kind of YA.

Richard, these days I usually reward myself with a stiff belt of some delicious food.

Ivan, perhaps I'm less in love with words now than I was five years ago.

Travis Cody said...

I sure do wish I had an easy answer for you.

Tyhitia Green said...


Yes it's luck too, like you said, but I'm pretty certain you have the smart thing going for ya. ;)

I think someone mentioned that writing in different genres makes it more difficult, but that they prefer it.

I write in different genres as well, but some audiences may not necessarily be versatile like the writer, so you may want to concentrate on a certain genre for a while. JMHO.

the walking man said...

Strip naked and go for a swim with the gators. If that doesn't make you feel alive (if you are still alive after) nothing will.

I am not a psychiatrist but I think you think you should have had at least been nominated for a Pulitzer or something as prestigious by now and because you haven't you're starting to say fuck it. *shrug*

You have found and gone further than 85% of those who want to write for a living, you have an agent, a publisher(s) and in your main genre have a name. And all without being a whore about it.

OK do what I did. Do not submit to anywhere anymore, refuse to read anywhere any more, and just generally write what you want when you want. Your audience will not forget you.

As a writer you have already been validated so why is your ego bruised? Either you are exhausted or you feel unappreciated, one rest will cure, the other well I guess you should get some therapy for.

Personally I was content with the third time I had a poem published and validated with my 4th ISBN after that I saw no more reason to see my name in print again. I don't write to be validated or to be famous. Actually today I posted why I still write.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Cody, that would be nice, of course. :)

Tyhitia, I've decided I'm going to start using pseudonyms to identify my genre work. Gonna try it at least.

Mark, now I just want to make money. Well, of course, that's not completely true. I want to make money for doing things my way. And that may not be possible. I'll certainly get over it at some point.

BernardL said...

You wouldn’t have to do a knock off, my friend. I was thinking of you writing a combination horror/humor/paranormal with a college professor and a group of kids he’s mentoring with ESP powers. Problems arise when the city becomes the scene of horrific serial killings that have the police stumped, but the kids start having nightmarish visions of the murders. Mix in the very humorous day to day goings on you’re so familiar with, and a set of characters you like. You could use your own college, and its city surroundings. You could ask to ride along with the police and study their routines by speaking with a detective from homicide. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I've so been there. What worked for me may or may not help you. But it came to me when being laid back felt less like relaxation and more like a smothering blanket. I vowed to spend 15 minutes on my WIP. That soon went to 15 min morning and afternoon. It took a little while, but not too long, for my original interest in the project to return. However, I no longer push myself like a mad woman off to save the world. It's better now. Good luck! And thanks for visiting my blog on Monday. Great to meet you.

Angie said...

If you don't have energy to do much but sit around and watch TV, that sounds like depression to me. Have you considered that possibility? Having no energy, no ambition, knowing there are things you should be doing but unable to find enough wanna...? Yeah, that's me when I'm in a low. Something to consider, especially since if that's the problem, it's very likely fixable.

About promotion, if you enjoy visiting more blogs and forums, and hustling for speaking engagements and all, then that's cool. But if you're not into it, not having fun with it, but are only doing it because you think you should be promoting? The best promotion for your current book is your next book. If chatting on forums and speaking to groups energizes you, then cool. If not, my advice is to put the effort into writing the next thing.

Luck! {{}}


Vesper said...

Charles, could it be the low following the high of finishing the fourth Talera novel?
I know what you mean and I'm often going through such depressive episodes but I try to push them away...
I think you're doing quite a lot of writing and promoting. At some point, it's more luck that you need than anything else. Luck is such a mysterious thing... I keep reading J.A. Konrath's blog and every time I'm amazed at what he has accomplished. He has a series of posts now written by guest bloggers who tell their stories of success in self-publishing. I think they pay 100$ to an Alzheimer's research fund to guest blog and it's a good promotion for them and very informative for the readers.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, that sounds like it would be fun for sure. Ideas, ideas.

Carole, thanks for visiting too. Sometimes just writing about my lethargy leads me to break out of it. It seems to have worked that way this time. I've been pretty productive the last couple of days.

Angie, I know in fact some of what I've been feeling is depression. I've been somewhat down for a couple of weeks, but I also know it fades after awhile and I get back to normal.

Charles Gramlich said...

Vesper, I think that it feels to me right now as if luck is what I need but I'm not catching that break, but probably if I work a bit differently it may all work out anyway.

BernardL said...

'Bernard, that sounds like it would be fun for sure. Ideas, ideas.'

Take it, brother, and run with it. If I can help in any way, just ask.

Gina Gao said...

I can relate to this very much! You just need to find your inspiration.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, thankee.

Gina, yes, true.

laughingwolf said...

no advice; just know it'll come

my own prob: depressive environments, physical and emotional - so tend to nap... a lot

G. B. Miller said...

Can sympathize about the no-go for the writing engine. And yes, sometimes forcing yourself to do something is often the best way to cure what ails ya.

jodi said...

Charles-firstly, Lana is right. You have accomplished sooo much. My idea would be to give yourself a couple of weeks completely off and don't even think about it. Set a date for sometime approximately 2 weeks or so-this will be your 'back at it' date. Mentally you will have rested and be ready to start again. Try it!

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, napping is a good temporary escape but it can only take you so far.

G.B., I seem to find the forcing myself to do something gets harder as I get older.

Jodi, I feel guilty when I do that, but I need to fight that.

sage said...

We all need times to rest and re-coop... Go easy on yourself and enjoy the fall.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, I shall endevour to do so.

Oscar Case said...

Lethargy is catching and it's a struggle to get rid of it.