Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

Hitting a Rough Patch in My Writing

I was warned after I finished my writing workshop in January that writing would get difficult for a while. I thought I understood what that meant. I didn’t.

Steampunk6The tough part didn’t happen right away. I still had stories in progress, so there was momentum carrying me for a few weeks. I already had the concepts thought out, so I just had to execute. I got the last of those short story ideas on the page yesterday in all its ugly first draft glory.

Now I am in trouble.

I never have problems coming up with new ideas, but with my newfound knowledge, I am unable to judge any idea as “good” and “worthy” of writing a short story. I’ve learned a new skill and am still struggling to internalize it. This is so frustrating because it feels like I cannot write.

I also discovered a new book on writing that might not be helping my issues. WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron is a great book and is helping me understand some of the responses from my beta readers, which parts of a story are important, which ones were irrelevant or confusing. However, I’m worrying about everything up front, instead of saving those insights for the backend. I don’t want to waste my time, but now I’m not doing anything with my time.

Everybody has tough days, and I’m no exception. I like posting about my successes, not the rough patches, but I figured it’s good for other writers to know that they aren’t alone. All we can do is keep chugging along and getting words, no matter how ugly, on the page.


Two of my goals for 2015 revolved around writing and submitting more short stories. Looking back on January, I am mostly on track:
Short Stories Written: 2 (goal is 1/month)
Professional Submissions: 2 (goal is 2/month)
Words per day: 500 (goal is 1250/day)

Recently, I have received rejections from Writers of the Future (I submitted in Dec), Daily Science Fiction (form response), and Flash Fiction Online (personal response). Each one of these emails makes me feel like I am getting one step closer to that first successful publication. Using Duotrope has really helped me keep track of everything too.

4 comments on “Hitting a Rough Patch in My Writing

  1. Matthew Wright
    February 10, 2015

    What you’re describing is a challenge every writer faces – one of the transition points between the stages of writing competence. We all begin with ‘unconscious incompetence’ where we don’t know what we don’t know, then move on to ‘conscious incompetence’, where we realise what there is to know; then on to ‘conscious competence’, where those lessons come together but we have to think about them. Finally the author reaches the point of ‘unconscious competence’ – where writing has become part of their soul. That happens with practise and with an understanding of direction. Keep plugging away – you’ll get there! And all best wishes for your publishing efforts.

  2. Toni Betzner
    February 10, 2015

    I hear you. I’ve hit a rough patch in my writing recently.

  3. ericjbaker
    February 10, 2015

    Just keep hammering away; every keystroke makes you better and gets you closer.

  4. Azur Lys (@Azure_lys)
    February 10, 2015

    Sounds like you’re doing amazing, Tracy, even if you feel like you’re hitting a rough patch.

Comments are closed.


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Of Days and Weeks

February 2015
« Jan   Mar »

Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

Writers of the Future Honorable Mention

About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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