I’ve noticed something in my query inbox lately that I find interesting. In the past two or three weeks, my request rate has dropped dramatically. Or, I should say, it’s dropped back down to normal. I didn’t even realize I had been requesting fewer manuscripts until I saw that from June 9 to June 21, I received 0 material due to lack to requests. This lag between requests isn’t uncommon, especially after I compared it to other months. The reason it felt so wrong to me, though, is because for the entire month of May, and the first week in June, I had requested at least one manuscript (sometimes more) almost every single day.
This means that a) my reading pile for May was massive – yes, I am still getting through it; and b) the quality of the queries, and the writing, that month was noticeably higher. Most of what I received were from people who clearly did their homework, knew what I was looking for, what I might like, and delivered. I can only assume they spent an entire winter researching only me; that’s how well-matched many of these queries were to my personal tastes.
The bulk of June hasn’t been like that, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s a summer slump. (Note: There were, of course, some gems, regardless of whether I had requested or passed on them.) Does the slowness of June mean writers are taking a break from querying? Was that request-rush in May just a fluke that may or may not happen again?
Or, have writers toiled away all winter to finish their masterpieces so that queries could be good and sent by the time summer hit? Alternatively, have they all left for an exotic writer’s retreat on the beach, where they will spend every day of the summer simultaneously working on tans and new novels to query by winter?
I’m not sure, and the reason is more likely that this was simply a slow month that will pick up again by July. But, it’s made me wonder when writers write. Are there better times than others? Are certain seasons more inspiring, depending on the project? Or is it a less exciting matter of simply when you find the time?
You tell me, writers. When do you get your best work done? And when do you decide it’s time to query that work?
(Blogger’s note: Speaking of summer, I’ll be on vacation beginning mid-week, so there won’t a publication this Wednesday, and no regular posts until July 6. Enjoy your 4th of July weekend, everyone!)
27 thoughts on “When Do You Write?”
I'm sometimes hesitant to query during summer months because I tend to envision that agents are vacationing in the Hamptons rather than at their offices 🙂
I write equally year round, but always afternoon to night — I'm not at all productive in the morning!
I tend to alternate between screenwriting and fiction writing… this past winter/spring I was very focused on screenwriting, but I'm getting back into novel writing for the summer.
Fall, winter, spring, I'm writing…but come summer vacation for kids, I take a break and formulate what comes next if I'm working on any novels, or come up with new concepts I'd like to explore more.
More interesting is knowing there's a bit of a slump…will writers take advantage to query you now, or no?
It's all about the fall.
I'm on this insane Hemingway kick lately, so now I have to share with you Ernest's views on this (in a letter to Scott Fitzgerald in 1929):
“Summer's a discouraging time to work. You don't feel death coming on the way it does in the fall when the boys really put pen to paper.”
I write (and exercise) first thing in the morning (except Sundays) so at least there's something done for that day no matter what else comes up. I sent queries in batches when my novel was ready in order to have time to work the next one as well as a screenplay. Stopped when I found a pitch conference and that worked out well: 3 editors want to see it. Just returned from NYC & need to decide whether to just send it or query more agents to find one to send the material. (first waiting to hear back from the agent who has the full mss) So glad I found your blog via retweet from @agentgame
Ha. Just last month I finished another round of revisions. If I hadn't already queried you twice over the past 18 months I probably would have sent a query to you again.
Maybe it's just that May is when the weather gets nicer, so people feel motivated to get something done? They know bikini season is coming, so they put in months of intense preparation so that when they walk their MSes past the agents who are lounging by the pool, they can glance back and catch them staring.
Interesting that things have shifted for the summer! I write every day but Sunday (or try to), rain, shine, winter, or summer. And then I query when my critique group doesn't have much left to say about the book…possibly because they're just sick of it, but I'd like to think because it's ready to query. 🙂
Enjoy your vacation!
I write every week (somtime just a little) and try to send at least one query eveery week. But two literary agents that I followed asked to wait till August, so I guess some agents take part of the summer off. Sarah, your e-mail box will be full soon, and enjoy your vacation.