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I am in a creative slump right now. Not because I have no ideas; I have plenty. I also have two kids in school giving me enough time to write, should I wish to do so. Tell me then, what’s the hideous sluglike thing wrapping itself around my brain and slowing me down? Is it laziness? Old age? Parenthood?
I think it might be a lack of outside approval.
From the beginning, as writers, we are taught to appreciate our readers. The first “book” most writers write is something on construction paper with marker and crayon, bound by yarn or Elmer’s glue. This “first book” gets passed around the house, becoming legendary, and we as writers, secretly love the indirect attention.
Fast forward a few decades. Our kids get pop-up book kits and we shower them with praise when they create their first finished masterpiece. We hang every picture on a magnetic surface and laud the story that gets told to accompany it. But what is feeding our own inner need for praise? Certainly not the dozens of rejection slips that appear in our email inbox every week. And that’s for those of us who are actually sending out work!
How often do adult writers get praise, or even feedback? More often than not, I get more praise-per-hour for making a good dinner than for actually publishing a story. But we can’t stop writing. Not if we really are writers at heart.
So how do we get that necessary feedback until we have an agent to harass? Apart from constantly sending out stories and hoping one will hit – that goes without saying. But there IS something active you can do.
Join a writing group: most serious writers belong to a writing group, at least for a while. Next time, I’ll give you specifics on what I mean and how you can go about finding a group of your very own. My writing group is my lifeline – without them I think I would have given up long ago. Not because I don’t think I’m great – but because it’s so much easier to spend an hour baking a cake and having three people shower me with gratitude, joy and appreciation, than to spend six hours working on a transition that still isn’t working quite right.
Don’t become a housekeeper. You’re a writer. Write. If you need feedback, find someone to give it to you. Out in the boonies? Visit our website: www.penparentis.org and listen to a few published authors (their readings are free) who have kids. They have only kind words for you – feel the community you are in. We support you.