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What's Harder Than Writing Your First Novel Ever?

Beginning to write your Second Novel Ever.

This is, I think, the most difficult lesson I'm learning in my writing journey. It's why I haven't been on Twitter much lately, or blogging as frequently. I haven't actually worked as much as I'd like on Shiny New Idea, now titled Night Run, or the plots for the rest of the Origin series. Because most of my friends are writers, I didn't want to admit I was taking an overly long break from something I should have been excited about.

After learning so much about the writing craft and my own process, I'm overwhelmed.

It was easy, in the beginning, to just start with no idea of what I was doing. Just letting the muse go wherever it wanted, adding ridiculous twists so the plot could move forward. Having had to do an entire rewrite of Origins, I know I need to do an outline first, at least one for the overall plot. But there's also the matter of tone, character development, pacing, and a million other things I'm far more aware of than when I began.

All these aspects of the craft are now at the forefront of my mind, and rightly so. But they're also clamoring for my attention, and it's intimidating. I subconsciously reacted by ignoring it all and goofing off. Imagine trying to pep talk yourself into getting to work when inside the whiny baby is crying "no, it hurts, I dun wanna!" Doesn't work all that well when you aren't addressing and accepting the reason behind the emotion.

Psychobabble - I knoes it.

I've been shlumping around in a sour mood for several days (ok weeks) because I didn't know what was stopping me from reveling in the new story. There were times I successfully tricked myself into outlining or learning more about the characters, but not for long and not very often. I'd thought maybe it was my hours, because I hadn't been sleeping well for awhile. I made the excuse that my writing cave was no longer doing it's job, and moved around a bit. But now that I'm freely admitting I'm scared, I feel better prepared to let go and let the story tell itself. And yet, there's more to it than that.

I'm still pining for Origins.

As silly as it sounds, I still want to go back and work on those revisions. I honestly don't know if I'm ready to or not, and I'm dawdling on Night Run because of that. I'm curious to see how the story went exactly, and if the idea I have for a fix is actually already in there or if it needs adding. I really don't know. Maybe I should finish the outline for Night Run, plot out the rest of the Origin Series, and then get back to revisions.

Maybe I'm not *supposed* to be working on Night Run.

Hmm... are there any writers out there far wiser than I to give me guidance? I need it.


  1. Trish says:

    A couple of thoughts come to mind.

    The biggest one being that everyone's process is different. With that said, what might work for me, might not work for you. The advice you are following right now...might not even be the best advice to follow for your own process. I think you need to do some soul searching and find what You're gut instinct is telling you to do.

    As for my own process. It takes me months if not years before a story has gelled enough in my mind to start writing it. I do alot of mulling the ideas over, working through characters and plot threads in my mind. By the time the plot and characters have fermented enough to take on life and breath, it's just a matter of getting the story on paper. It's already played out in my mind. I already know the characters, I already know what is going to happen. For my process-- what you are talking about is the prewriting/gelling stage. It takes place in my mind, not on the paper. Maybe the story isn't coming for you, because it's not ready to come yet. Maybe you need to relax and give the characters and plot enough time to mature--before actually starting to write it.

    This break from Origins is another thing i question. Yes, I know the preverbial wisdom is to step away from a project before revisiong. This doesn't work for me. I have too much trouble switching back and forth between projects. There is no way I could skip revisions in favor of another first draft on another project. Revisions for me are easiest and best if they come straight off the first draft. After revisions, I'll send the book out to readers and then revise according to feedback. Then I'll submit it. Only then will I leave it in favor of another project. Later I may come back to that project again, and revise again through new/fresh eyes. But the first revisions will have already been done.

    So, my feeling is that you've got two things going on here. One is this new shiny idea is still in mulling/planning stages and is NOT ready to committ to paper.

    And two-- this break from Origins didn't do you any favors, and your instincts are telling you you should be working and finishing that book, rather than moving to another.

  2. Amanda says:

    First, let me just say that yes, 2nd novel is hard. On the other hand, 3rd novel actually gets easier. I honestly didn't make it through my 2nd novel. I only got 40k words into it. I plan to revise it sometime in the near future. But it's still hard, harder than rewriting from scratch the first novel.

    On the other hand, this paralysis is something i really understand, because I get the same thing when I want to work on too many different projects. I often get writer's block that's caused by too many ideas. I get pulled in so many different directions and cant' decide where to focus. It's horrible. I'm actually there right now, trying ot decide which of 4 directions to go. Sigh.

    Sadly, I have no real advice. :/

  3. june says:

    I agree with you. I too am an aspiring writer and the more I learn about the process, the more overwhelmed by it I've become. I did finish my first novel officially. Now I'm trying to polish it up and revise for submission.

    I did start the second novel, cause I was so sick of looking at that first one and the second was begging to be written. It's such a different book, I'm really having fun with it. I'm not sure where it's going to go. I don't outline. Tried that sort of thing, but it hasn't worked for me. I have to start writing and see where the story takes me.

    Taking a break from the writing is a necessity at times. You come back more refreshed and see things you didn't before.

  4. Thank you all so much for giving your input! I'm still doing some soul searching, and hopefully I'll find my way through this shlump.


  5. Oh I know this feeling!!! I felt the same way. But I think the best thing to do is think of Origins as taking a little nap. Allow yourself to fall in love with your new characters. Tell yourself that you're not cheating on your old ones--because you're not. There is room enough for one and all. you can do it. And I have a feeling, soon you will feel just the same about the new book. Just allow yourself to fall in love.

    On another note, I hope you have a wonderful 2010 filled with many wonderful characters that you love and treasure.

  6. Diandra says:

    As far as I remember, it's not too long ago since you finished the other one. I can't speak for everyone, but whenever I finish a work that's more than - let's say, 2 pages - I feel gloomy and depressed afterwards and it seems I cannot write for a length of time. I got better at this (from finishing last 1st draft to preparing next idea, it only was 4 days this time), but it started out with sometimes months inbetween works - or parts of work, if I stopped at the wrong place.

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