Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Second Novel Neurosis

I'd been solidly working on my new novel for several months when all of a sudden I had a panic. It happened about 50 pages in, and I found myself worrying I wouldn't be able to finish it.

Since I knew the set-up, it was really fun and easy to write. But as soon as I got about 10,000 words in, I started to fear I wouldn't be able to think of anything else good. Does this ever happen to you?

A friend of mine said yesterday, "There's a difference between writing everyday, and writing a cohesive book."

Yep, that pretty much summed it up. Would I ever be able to write another book?

About the same time another friend, who had been struggling with her second book for a very long time, called. "I have solved my second-book-block!" She was ecstatic.

She went on to explain that with her first, she was able to be creative and try new things. She would allow her characters to venture WAY off the outline and see what they might do. Conversely, with her second, she found that if she didn't know exactly where the book was supposed to go, she'd freeze. She was scared of taking chances and mixing things up. Once she allowed her imagination to run wild again, a new book started to form - and she was having fun.

Her comments resonated because when I wrote KISS, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I wrote it all out of order and went back and changed the storyline four times - the last time changing the whole genre! But for some reason with this new one, I felt like I was a bonafide writer now so I needed to know exactly how to crank out another novel- and quick! How much time can one realistically spend allowing their characters to play out of the box? If I let them run off the outline, would I be chasing them for years?

Thank God for writer friends who set me straight. They taught me that I needed to trust my characters. Let them fly. I had simply lost my mojo for a minute, but I could get it back.

And they were right. This second book is gonna be epic :)

:) katie


Shannon O'Donnell said...

Hurray for friends! What we do without the wisdom and support of others? :-)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I'm going through second book panic, too. The book that sold is a 180 from the one my editor will look at next. Makes me anxious.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I think the Sophomore slump is always going to be an issue, because--whether it's conscious or not--we're comparing it to the first one and putting pressure on ourselves to prove that we're not just a one book wonder. I'm almost there myself. I'm *just* about to put my agent's revisions to bed, and then *gulp* I have to start a new book. Totally has me terrified. Glad to know I'm not the only one who struggles.

Also: word verification? Twalpsie. Funnest sounding word I've heard in a long time. :)

Elana Johnson said...

Oh, I hit a wall every 10K. The first, the second, the third...

I call it the 10K curse, and yes, I suffer from it greatly. I've already written a second novel, so I have no other excuse...

Kelly H-Y said...

It IS going to be epic! And, yes ... I feel that way often!

Tahereh said...

awww what a great post!! i totally understand -- and i think you're dead right!

wishing you the best of luck with everything!!

Gail said...

Katie said: Since I knew the set-up, it was really fun and easy to write. But as soon as I got about 10,000 words in, I started to fear I wouldn't be able to think of anything else good. Does that ever happen to you?

OMG, when DOESN'T it happen??????? You are so right- thank goodness for our writer friends and blogger community. Their support is boundless and always so comforting. Keep going girl. You'll do fine!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

you'll find your way - i have no doubt!

jessjordan said...

Seriously, chica ... You've gotta tell me SOMEthing about this new book. I'm a curious cat and it's killing me.

I'm changing the genre of one of my older WIPs right now, from women's fiction to YA. I always loved the story and didn't want to let it go, and I love it even more now. There are a few serious changes I have to made that constantly scare the tar out of me, but ... I know once I get it right, I'm gonna love it. Sometimes, I just freak out and wonder if I'll ever know what "right" is. I'd be lying if I said I didn't lose serious sleep over random panic book thoughts.

But when everything clicks into place, or when something I'm writing comes alive, I know all the stress was worth it.

Okay. That's my motivational speech of the day.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

GREAT post, Katie. And yes, you are epic, my dear!

Mystery Robin said...

I'm in the middle of a block myself. The first half is so easy to write for me, and then pulling it all together - tough!

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