After I spend a few days with my family later this week I will be spending my vacation relaxing watching basketball making snowmen working/reading and finishing up a round of edits for JACOB WONDERBAR.
And yet even with that task at hand I’m already looking over the horizon with a great deal of nervousness as I merely contemplate finishing one book and starting another. I have the new book jitters.
As many/most/all of you know, starting to write a new book can be a hugely daunting task. I liken it to staring down at a deep, dark abyss. You know it’s a long way down and it’s pretty scary to jump.
Some writers I know just try and block out how much work they have ahead and just chip away as best they can. I always try and remind myself that it will get done eventually with just a little constant steady progress. Other people try and outline so they can break it all down into comprehensible and non-daunting chunks.
What about you? Do you find it difficult to start a new book project? Or are you so jazzed about the new idea that it carries you through until the new book jitters pass? How do you cope with staring at the abyss?
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Art: Thomas Moran – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Ideas tend to consume my soul when they strike, to the point where I find myself writing/outlining/jotting them down without consciously realizing what I'm doing. I also work best under pressure, so that helps with the jitters. Give me a deadline and I'll do my best to get it done before then!
I love the process from start to finish, and my characters talk to me in ways that keep me endlessly entertained. Even when I don't know where I'm going, I know I'm heading somewhere. Knowing the end keeps me going through the dark valley that stretches before me.
Which reminds me. I have a dark forest to conquer! Happy Holidays, and good luck writing!
Nathan, I think the abyss you are now facing is particular to your situation. Meaning, the second book syndrome. Your fears (and what writer doesn't have them?) are different now.
My first manuscript hasn't sold yet. I am hoping my agent will do what you said on the forum – he'll sell it after the second book sells and it will be a better deal then. But I face a different abyss.
All we can do is jump. It is a fun ride. Word by word, page by page.
Creative A says
Maybe this isn't an option once you become a career writer, but after finishing one novel, I find it best to take a little vacation. I can write if I want to, but no one's enforcing it. I can try to start a novel, but as long as it's under 10K, I don't make myself get in the zone and finish. Time between novels should be a time to replenish and play around. It's hard to just pick an idea and become excited about it; the excitement happens, and that's how you know which novel to pick.
Sounds like you just have some second-novel jitters. Take your time and try not to flip 🙂
Hope that helps!
I hope 2010 will be wonderful for you. I just finished my second book, and am working on the dreadful querying process. I am anxious to begin my third. Remember to focus on the characters and their story and your second book will come alive under your fingertips.
What worked well for me on the first book and is working so far on the second (which I'm a little over half done with) is having a clear daily word goal and a sense of how long I want the book to be. So this time it's 1000 words a day, and I want to land somewhere in the 80-100K range. Which works out to 3-4 months for the first draft. Which is not so long, really, when you think about it – only a third as long as being pregnant with my daughter!
The other thing that helps is to plan on the book being funny. It might not turn out that way, but if funniness is your intention (and what a worthy intention!), it will be a lot funner to sit down and write, and instead of having jitters you'll look forward to those 3-4 months!
Heidi Schussman says
Nathan, I actually have no idea what I'm going to write until I sit down to the keyboard. My WIP's just flowed onto the page (2 with an outline, 2 without). I definately think an outline should be used for non-fiction.
The problem I have is sitting down to the keyboard. Because I'm an obsessive writer, I am leery about writing. I have a job! I can't stay up until 2:00a.m. writing.
So for me it boils down to typing and not thinking. I can make corrections later.
I would say that when I start a new project, I run and jump. Just sticking one toe in slowly kinda makes me nervous, like when a nurse preps your arm for a shot then you look the other way waiting for the needle to poke into your skin… sweaty..sweaty..ouch!! that sucked.
so, writing goes this way for me…run and jump…work out the kinks in the end. It's more exciting that way!
For me, writing the beginning is always the hardest part. So when I'm starting a new novel, I pick a random place and start, usually doing the beginning last.
I both love and hate starting a new novel. I love meeting the new characters and coming up with new ideas and yet I hate going into the unknown! I hate not knowing exactly where the story is going to go. I love writing the beginning and the end – the middle is the tricky bit!