Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Second Book Blues

            After publishing my first book, I was eager to get started on book two. I had promoted the first book as number one in a series, and planned on getting the second book out in less than 6 months. That didn’t happen.


I already had an idea and even some chapters written so what was the problem? I tried chatting with other authors hoping to find some inspiration, but talking with other writers is like a double edged sword. On one hand, it is nice to be able to chat with like-minded people and not feel like I am going crazy. On the other hand, it is like a knife to the heart when they are posting their latest word count or next release date on Facebook and Twitter making me feel like I am falling farther and farther behind. How long can I milk the first book and keep readers interested before they move on?


One thing I did learn from other authors is that I am not alone in experiencing the Second Book Blues. I have talked to several writers after reading their first books only to have them say that they hope their next book doesn’t “disappoint.” I can definitely identify with that feeling.


I was excited at first when people would read my book and immediately ask me when the second book was coming out. I loved to hear that, but as time wore on, I came to dread that question because I didn’t have an answer. I was stalled on my second book and couldn’t seem to make any progress.


When I first started writing, I had an idea for two separate books. I thought it would be nice if I could somehow connect them and create a series, but I didn’t know how to connect them. About halfway through “Where Will You Run?”, I found a way to make it work. I finished the first book and figured the second book would practically write itself. Not only did it not write itself, I couldn’t write it either.


What I failed to recognize was the fact that I had been stuck in a similar position at the end of the first book. It took me months to write the end of it. I didn’t know why. I knew how the book was going to end; but for the life of me, I couldn’t write it. I was so frustrated. I talked to my Honey about it describing the ending, and he said that it was missing the “wow” factor. He was absolutely right. The reason I couldn’t write the end was because I hated it. When I figured that out and let go of the idea I had originally, I was able to finish the book in four days. Four ugly days of writing 12-14 hours in my pajamas with little to eat or drink, but I couldn’t get it out fast enough once I knew it was right.


Flash forward to late last week. I was lamenting over my problems writing the original plotline part for book two. I couldn’t make it work. There were too many holes; too many questions. I had been stuck for months. Duh. I finally realized that I hated that part of the plot. I needed that additional material when it was a stand alone book, but I didn’t need it as part of the series.


So why did I hang on to that plotline so tightly? I had already written several chapters following that story, and I couldn’t stomach scrapping all of it and starting over. Ugh. But scrap it I did and it was the best decision ever! I have started writing again and it is effortless. Now I know. If I hate it, I can’t write it. I just have to keep that in mind for future projects, so I don’t waste time pondering over my inability to write something I don’t want to.


I guess my point is, don’t be afraid to take chances if something isn’t working out, even if you have already spent a lot of time on it. Don’t hold on to something that is keeping your story from moving forward. No writing is ever wasted because you can always learn something whether it is new information about a character or just good writing practice. Thanks for stopping by and happy writing!!

16 comments:

  1. Ever go on a trip? Did you wait for every light between home and your destination to be green before you left? Of course not. Take off NOW. When you get to the first light, decide what to do then. Don't delay your journey just because you can't see the end from the beginning.

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    1. Great advice!! Thanks so much Everett :)

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  2. Now you're makin' me all nervous! : ) I just submitted first book to the editor so I am trying to figure out which one to do next. There might be a sequel to my first one somewhere down the road, but for now I am going to try something different. The whole fiction writing and self publishing thing is very new to me, so I have been doing a lot of lurking on writer blogs and some commenting, but mostly I've been trying to soak it all in. But you are right, it is definitely a doubled-edged sword! Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the information and the I am envious of the self-discipline exhibited by so many peers. Then again, I also get inspired when I read their personal backstory and realize that I could simply just be an earlier version of them. I've gotta pay my dues and someday I'll get there too! Your words really ring home for me - first, you've got to please yourself. Once you do that, the rest is all cake and passion! Good luck with the second one - sounds like you have kicked the blues for good!

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    1. Thanks Greever! You are where I was about six months ago, so I still struggle with feeling overwhelmed sometimes with all of the information out there. I actually had an author tell me that it is better to write something different between books in a series. He said it kept the creative juices flowing. So you are on the right track ;)

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  3. Wishing you a powerball of words my friend! What is wonderful about scraping sections in this day and time, is that we can cut, paste and save. It's not wasted time. It might fit in perfectly in book 7! :)

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    1. Book 7 - I love that!!! Thanks for taking the time to read it and leave a comment :) Love ya!

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  4. Wonderful post, Michelle, and one, with my first book just out, that I can really relate to. I agree that you cannot write about something if it doesn't excite you, or you don't feel it. My biggest problem these days is time. When I wrote An Unfamiliar Murder, that is all I did. However, promoting it and writing book 2 is definitely prooving a challenge!

    I am so glad you worked through your problems. I am sure your writing will be stronger and you will enjoy the process more, as a result.

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    1. Jane you bring up a problem I still struggle with - all the time it takes to promote the first book definitely cuts into writing time. I have had several authors tell me to get at least two or three books published before going crazy on promo stuff, but that is easier said than done. Thanks!

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  5. So true and couldn't have come at a better time. I've been sitting there, struggling over scenes in my book and then I just scrap them. Because it is always harder to write something that doesn't feel right than it is to write scenes that you love. Those scenes come rushing out of me and are usually written very quickly. Still hate cutting whole scenes but, hey, if it keeps the book flowing, it's worthwhile doing.

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    1. So true Rebecca. That sounds exactly like what I have been struggling with. You seem to have a good handle on it though if you are able to do that already. I need to keep the big picture in mind and not stress about scenes that don't fit. Thanks :)

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  6. Great advice, Michelle! I am still working on my first book, but already working on a rough outline for my second book. You've given me a lot to think about.

    I agree with Everett's analogy to a point... I think you need to at least have some idea how you want the story to end... otherwise, you won't be able to write the middle. The middle is all about getting from the beginning to the end.

    Not saying that as you process through the middle, that the ending can't or won't change. Just as we change/adjust our goals in life, the same can be true of the story we are telling. In both, we need to recognize when and where the change(s)need to happen.

    Best of luck to you!

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    1. I agree with you Veronica. I need to have an idea where the story is going, but be flexible enough to accept changes that may happen while writing the rest of the story. Best of luck to you as well with your writing projects! :)

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  7. I've done the same. I actually wrote the last book in my series first and then wrote the first book of the series for my NaNoWriMo novel, but can't seem to get motivated to write the second and third books, so they are setting on a shelf in my mind, while I work on a novella and I just finished a novelette and published it...But I know that I really need to get back to my series.

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    1. Thank you for sharing that Karen. Sometimes I get so frustrated that I think about quitting. It helps to know that I'm not the only one struggling.

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  8. I'm very glad to hear that you are back in the "my book is writing itself" mode. Congratulations on that victory! I've had an easy time of it with the two books I have written, although I have yet to hear from my editor on the second one. *fingers crossed that there are no major revisions in store for me* However, I'm sure the day will come for all of us where your advice will be a life-saver.
    Have a great week, Michelle. *waves*

    -Jimmy

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    1. Thank you so much Jimmy! I appreciate you always taking the time to support me. It really means a lot! I am glad to hear about your books. I will keep my fingers crossed about book 2 *fingers crossed for no revisions*
      Hope you have a great week too my friend!

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