Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sophomore Slump?

Could I be suffering from that college affliction known as "sophomore slump?" Do writers even suffer from sophomore slump? Since this is my first time as a sophomore writer, I have no idea.

But I sure recognize the feelings.

My freshman year at Connecticut College was a mixed bag, as I suspect it is for many students. I spent the first semester adjusting to college and then fell into my groove in the second semester. By the time August rolled around, I couldn't wait to get back to college and start my second year.

Then I got back to campus and started my sophomore year. I wasn't excited any more. My classes didn't inspire me. I couldn't get used to my dorm. I was always tired. I moved through my days unmotivated and in a fog.

My Spanish professor, Dr. Argyle Pryor Rice, told me not to worry. I was suffering what was known as sophomore slump. I was no longer a pampered freshman -- no more early registration or special events planned just for me and my fellow classmates of the class of 1977. And no prestige of being an upperclassman, either. Dr. Rice asusred me that this too would pass.

I am feeling some of that same fog now as I try to move on to my next book.I know what I want to write. I have it plotted out in my head, and the words flow and it sounds fantastic. But when I put the words on paper (or, more accurately, on the computer screen), they don't sound nearly as good or flow as smoothly. It is at this point, my little editor -- that nagging, whiny, mean-spirited little beast in my mind who's favorite word is stupid -- wakes up from naptime. MLE points out all that is wrong with my plot, my characters, and my dialogue.

The delete key has seen a lot of action lately.

This is the total opposite of Snow Day which practically wrote itself one snowy December morning. I should be flying high. I have finally realized my dream of writing a children's book and having it published, and I should be charging ahead into my next book. Instead I'm idling, feeling uninspired, lost in a fog. I have tried various techniques to get break through this, but I am still in the same spot: staring a bunch of words on a page that don't give me a shove to write the next words. If I can't get past the first paragraph, how could a reader ever get past it?

So, I have decided to try a whole new tactic. Not write, at least not that story. I'll focus on marketing efforts for Snow Day. This afternoon, I will get together with my friend Bonnie for scrapbooking, an entirely different kind of creative endeavor. I'll file away all of those scraps of paper with writing ideas on them. Who knows, maybe a photo or another idea will be the impetus I need to get through this sophomore slump.

I just have to remember what Dr. Rice told me all those years ago: this too shall pass.


Suzanne Lieurance said...


Yeah, I think it's common to feel this way with a second book. You're probably a little scared that you can't pull it off again and write another book. I think that happens to all of us. In fact, I feel that way with every book I write and, at the moment, I'm working on my 24th book. With each one I think, "What's the matter with me? Why did I ever think I could write this book?" But then I snap out of it and start writing the darned thing!

Good luck!

Suzanne Lieurance
The Working Writer's Coach

Tribute Books said...

It's not easy being a writer. I think you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself for your second book. Just believe in yourself. Chill out, and don't take it too seriously. It will come to you.

Donna McDine said...

Hello Pamela:

Congratulations on your book, Snow Day!

Best wishes,