“Sophomore slump” is a term I’ve heard applied mainly applied to a band’s second album. The first album was amazing with several singles on the top 40, but then, no one’s ever heard of the band’s second album. No break out hits, just a heap of disjointed songs that sound like B-sides from the first album and some random sound clips that are significant to no one but the band members. It has a much broader usage, however, to describe one’s second attempt at an activity that fails to live up to the first.
I think you all know why I’m writing this. In trying to write my second novel, I’m hitting a major sophomore slump. I’m pretty sure I’ve announced like three different “next” novels on this blog and I think it might be the slump. So what causes a sophomore slump?
For me, it’s happening because of the pressure that I’m putting on myself. The plan was to publish A Regrettable Likeness and move right into the next project. The goal was also to complete it in fewer months and fewer words. Unfortunately, ever since I released my book, my health has been worse than it has ever been. It’s difficult to hop back in the saddle when you literally can’t walk some nights and you lie in bed staring at the ceiling wondering how you’re going to be able to get to work the next day.
I did not meet my lofty goals of cranking out a new novel in a couple of months. So what? If there is anything I learned in graphic design, it’s that the most important part of a plan is flexibility. That, and, if your soul isn’t in it, you’re going to wind up hating it.
How, then, do I overcome the sophomore slump? To set smaller, more attainable goals and to follow my creative passions. Instead of trying to turn every story idea into a full-blown epic series, I can write short stories or character snap-shots on my blog. I could also release things episodically to help build up my street-cred as a prolific writer (which, hopefully, is attractive to agents). This will allow me to indulge a few whims that I can see immediate results from. Simultaneously, I will work on A Regrettable Experiment. Because this isn’t about selling out and grinding out stories I don’t care about for publishers. If it were, I wouldn’t have a day job.