thinkingDP writing challenge: I loved the picture labeled creativity.  The man behind the bars appears to have words flowing freely, something I am sorely lacking right now.

I’m stuck, it’s a classic case of writer’s block.  Not about everything mind you, I can write blog posts until the cows come home, but this new book I’m working on has me stumped.

Here’s the problem.  I recently completed my first novel and sent it off to a potential publisher. While I wait for the big NO, I am trying to work on a different manuscript.  I’ve always been told you need to immediately jump into another project for two reasons:

1.  So you can get your mind off the endless wait and possible outcomes.

2. Just in case they happen to like your first attempt and want to publish it, you should have something else ready to show  as a follow-up.

O.K. that’s all very sensible, but how do you get over your first novel?  I mean its like a love affair that was cut short before your heart was ready.  I loved the characters in my first book, and visiting with them each day and polishing up their witty repartee was a joy.  I loved their story,  how they worked out their problems, and I loved how it all ended.  It was like one of those things that got away from me after a while and kind of wrote itself . . . O.K., I know, time to take off the rose-colored glasses.

It wasn’t always that easy.  I have to be honest with myself and remember how I suffered through the first draft of that one too.  There were times when I went weeks without working on it, and that was even before I had a blog to distract me.

I know if I force myself to work on this new story I will fall in love with it too (right?). I’ve got about five chapters that I’m actually pretty happy with but so far it’s still work. There are a couple of plot twists I have yet to work out, and lately I find myself avoiding the project all together.

Wait, did I  hear someone say, “Get a grip Library Lady, and quit whining?”  I know, I’m almost done, but didn’t I read somewhere that if you’re not enjoying the process, it will show in your writing?  Oh dear. What’s a girl to do?

Has anyone else ever been in these shoes?  I’d love to hear from you. I need some inspiration.  In the meantime, here’s a quote I found about being a writer. It’s by Anne Lamott, a great author in her own right, so she knows of what she speaks.

“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Amen to that.

35 thoughts on “Stuck

  1. I don’t know about anyone else, but I need time … months … between one thing and the next. I need to let my circuits reset, the buffers purge — unless you are writing a sequel, in which case I suppose it’s different. It’s great to have another manuscript ready to go … but unless you are staggeringly lucky, you’ve got a little time before you are likely to be worrying about publication. I would love to be wrong, but experience — mine and many other people’s — suggests it’s rarely so fast. Maybe you’ll be the exception. In which case, hey, what a GREAT problem to have!

    Meanwhile, I think you cannot realistically go directly into a new book when you haven’t let go of the previous one. Give yourself a break!


    • Oh my, I love that you said that. Thanks, for the good words. No, I don’t seriously think I’ll have that problem, and now that I think about it the advice about having something ready to go was about freelance writing, which I used to do a lot of, and getting right into another article or three after you submit something. Then rejection of one piece isn’t the end of the world.
      I think I will continue to work on this, but not be so hard on myself. The whole point of writing is to enjoy it.


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  3. I love the quote. I’m usually bombarded with the other POV – that you have to map out the whole thing before you start, and I never do.
    Don’t know about inspiration, but I’d be more than happy to whine along with you. I really want to get stuck into writing a second novel, have just abandoned 30,000 words (it died) and now can’t even come up with a vague idea. Total misery!.


    • So sorry about the death of your novel, is their really no resuscitation possible? I feel your pain. It’s so much fun to be in the middle of a really glorious stretch of writing, but the other extreme is miserable. Please feel free to whine with me.


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  10. I’m not quite there yet. I’ve been floundering through the editing phase of my first novel, so I’m not sure how I’ll take to a new story when the time finally comes. Maybe you just need to walk away from the desk and spend some time daydreaming about the characters. That’s what I do when I get stuck.


    • I think you’re right. I don’t do very well first drafting at the desk anyway. I think better when I wander around, then when my brain is overflowing I sit down and type as fast as I can before I forget everything.


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  12. Hi Library Lady, I have read Anne Lamott’s book. It is excellent. I love books that are in a series. Once I’ve read the first, I can’t wait to read the next to find out what my favorite characters are up to. Unless you’ve killed off all your characters, you can always use them again. ~ Dennis


    • Thanks Dennis, this is a series well, maybe I shold say a branch, that’s why I feel like I should keep working. I plan to do several books each focusing on the stories of sub characters from the first book. The main characters from the first book do appear (I didn’t kill off too many people) but they’re not central anymore. Thanks for listening.


  13. When I’m between drafts and need some perspective I work on short stories and experiment with different genres and characters. Although it’s still hard to break free from one story I always have a few shorts laying around just for that purpose. Now I need to finish one so I can sell it!


    • I think that’s where the blog comes in handy. Short stuff with lots of variety. I appreciate the advice. I think just writing about this helped a lot. Kind got the problem out of my system. Thanks for listening.


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  17. I loved the quote! I’m working on something now, and I’m only able to see as far as the headlights allow at present; but I’m hopeful of reaching my destination. Good luck making the mental and emotional transition from book one to book two!


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