Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, December 21, 2009

Staring at the Abyss

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?






160 comments:

Indigo said...

Dive in. The next book can only get better. (Hugs)Indigo

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan, I finished my first book this summer and have been editing it these past few months. I'm still looking at the marketing phase of it, but eventually it will be time to start a new project. I enjoy the researching part, outlining, and even the writing process, but the after part scares me -- who will want to read it, will it ever be good enough, am I good enough, is it worth all this time and effort?

The answer that usually comes back on a good day is YES. Keep writing, keep going, keep believing.

Happy holidays and thanks for all you give to us year round.

Janet

Melissa said...

The jazz of a new project definitely carries me through, but I have to have an outline to know where I'm going.

Valerie L Smith said...

I'm jazzed and can't wait to get it started.

For me, the deep, dark abyss doesn't come until I'm a few chapters into it and I'm wondering how I will ever connect the beginning with the end.

Natasha Solomons said...

Only write on paper plates...

I was really worried before starting my second novel. The first has garnered a bit of buzz in the UK, and I was intimidated. Surely, all I could do was disappoint. So, I chatted to my friend Jeff Rona, a well known composer.

Jeff told me how he struggled writing his second commission. He knew he was creating pieces of art, and this thought often made writing music difficult. Nothing was good enough – what would posterity think? Sometimes it wasn’t even fun. Then, one day he was in the studio trying some stuff out when he ran into a well known RnB artist. This guy was recording and having a great time, and he and Jeff got chatting. ‘The problem is,’ said RnB guy to Jeff, ‘You think of your music as fine china while I think of mine as paper plates.’

From that moment, Jeff resolved on only ever making paper plates. He sits in the studio and plays about, experiments, tries stuff out, has fun and doesn’t worry about the significance of his composition. And believe me, his music is amazing (it’s the staple of my playlist for book 2).

While Jeff is talking about composing music, I think the metaphor holds for writing fiction too. I write ‘literary fiction’ but I don’t think of my writing as either important or significant.

I like to have fun when I write. It’s not always enjoyable – some days it’s just hard and I feel that everything I do is nonsense. But, when I don’t worry and try stuff out, play with words and see what works and what doesn’t, good things happen. I can always cut the mistakes. Throw stuff away. After all, I only write on paper plates.

Chuck H. said...

I guess I'm a little different. I'm working on my third book (none published) and I already have starts on at least two others. My problem isn't getting started, it's finding the time to finish one so I can start the next one.

WV: cones - ice cream? traffic? Madonna?

Kirsten Hubbard said...

this is funny. I'm never really nervous at the early brainstorming/first few chapters stage. For me, that's the most exciting part: ideas are abundant, and pressure is slim. It's when I'm several chapters in, and the frozen wastes of Everest loom in the middle-distance, that I start questioning my sanity. Like around now.

Autumn Rose said...

I try not to worry, saying it's "just fun, it's okay if it stinks." It's a strange thing to fool yourself into not worrying or putting stress on yourself by thinking it's "no big deal," when deep down you know it's a big deal and you want to produce a successful work. Your have to compartmentalize your mind.

May @ Anne and May said...

Much like Annie Lamott, I write bad drafts and promise myself no one will ever see them. Otherwise I wouldn't have the physical strength to start a new book.

I hate new books. HATE THEM.

CB said...

I just dive right in when the inspriation strikes. Starting a new project is the best part.

If I'm tossing around an idea and I haven't gotten that wave of inspiration on how to start it (usually a nice opening line, even if it doesn't ever turn out to be the *actual* opening), I try to focus on the idea/project during moments when my mind isn't otherwise engaged, like when I'm in the sower or when I'm chopping vegetables. Inane tasks like that are great to get the creativity rolling and BAM the inspiration hits and you're banging away like a madman on the keyboard.

Good luck getting started!! :D

Matilda McCloud said...

I enjoy starting a new project, but I have to wait for a good idea to bubble up first. I can't force it. I like to start with a vague outline, make a word file and index card for each scene, and then write the scenes that inspire me most first. This method helps me with writers block.

Jamie said...

I dive into outlining and then just start putting words down. I'm finding, though, that going from heavy editing into writing a new rough draft I am getting really frustrated with myself. I have to constantly remind myself that it's a rough draft and it's going to sound rough. It won't be as good or tight as the final edit I've just finished, and that is okay. I just have to tell the story, then go back and polish it.

Joseph said...

Nope, not daunted. It takes a few swings before I hit the ball, though. I wrote a combined 4000 words on two other manuscript ideas before I started the project I'm working on now (80k and counting). If I were to make myself write a specific book, I'd probably be a lot more stressed. I have enough ideas written down, I just dabble at them until I find a hook and then dive in. (mmm, mixed metaphors!)

Rachel Hamm said...

I tend to be really jazzed about a new project in the beginning and I hit the ground running, but after 12-15 chapters I lose interest. Hence I have one finished novel and five that I've started but am not sure if there's an end in sight. I think my problem is that I wrote the first one strictly for me, without having any intentions of showing it to anyone else ever. It was easy to finish because I was only trying to please myself. Then I found a online writing workshop and suddenly my writing has become about trying to make other people happy. Not exactly the best formula for getting things done. Somehow I have to learn to turn off the internet and just write, then worry about feedback when it's finished, but that's hard because now I depend on getting feedback to let me know if I'm heading in the right direction! The writing workshop has improved my first novel by leaps and bounds, but it's kinda stunting my creative growth in new projects.

Thanks for letting me ramble!

Stephanie said...

I definitely think I dive in with excitement. I just started a new 3 book YA time travel series and I haven't even plotted it out yet. Must do that soon, but the excitement is killing me! I have to write while I'm "feeling it", ya know?

JDuncan said...

Because I do a lot of plotting out and planning before I start writing, the jitters usually hit me before I ever start to write. I'll be looking over what I've got or pondering a blank area in the outline, and wonder if what I've come up with is really worth reading or I've got a blank spot because the story sucks and there really is not logical way to fill in the missing pieces. I take a break, stew on it a bit, and usually the mess will sort itself out and I'll get things done. I just have to have the patience to know that it's sometimes a fairly long process. Once done though, I'm jazzed to write the book. I can't wait to start working it out on paper and make it come to life.

Dara said...

I dive in with excitement. At least for the first 10-20K.

Then the jitters come when I realize just how much editing and research will be involved to get it even close to readable...

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I envy you all. I am trying to finish my first book while teaching 150 10th graders.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Starting a new novel is never my problem. In fact, if I get an idea, I make myself write a preliminary 1st chapter so I feel bad if I abandon it after putting time and effort into it.

The problem I have, more often than not, is keeping the storylines and characters straight. They like to bleed into one another so that characters leech from one WIP to another where they fit better. Which is annoying because then I have to find someone to replace them in their story of origin.

I'm so happy I found Liquid Story Binder so I can keep all of the parts and pieces in their own place, but all fluid at the same time. Saves me a lot of headaches.

Gerrib said...

The abyss is after page 25 or so. Beginning is easy. Continuing, that's hard.

Steve & Sarah said...

Best of luck wrapping it up, hopefully you will escape the grind of final details by thinking creatively about the next book. Happy holidays

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

yeah, it's hard to start a book (or script). Usually it starts out with some interesting characters I come up with in my mind. Then I have to figure out the plot, which is hard.

but it's all worth it in the end

Anonymous said...

I'm a little more than half way through my book. I'm at about 70k words, and I figure I will end at around 100k words. But I have been starting to think about my next book. I want to write it before I revised and edit the one I'm working on.

So what am I thinking about? The number one question that is tough to answer is: what genre? I'm thinking about either a romance novel or a mystery novel. My current book is a urban fantasy novel.

Once I make a decision on genre, I need to decide who my main characters are in my story. And are they compelling and interesting?

Finally, I need to write a synopsis for the story.

All this planning stuff is really boring. I hate it.

So my plan is to write a short fiction piece between the two novels. This will provide me some excitement while I finish planning my next book. I figure I will make notes between now and the time I start up the new one.

Oh, one more thing. I came to the realization that I can handle criticism of my work better the longer I let dust accumulate on my work. So now I'm starting to bring the beginning chapters of my current novel to my writing group. These chapters were written a month ago, so I feel less attached to them.

Bane of Anubis said...

Depends on how my last book's doing on the query rounds. Were I in your position, I'd definitely be raring to go.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Actually, I'm excited to start the next book. I see so many possibilities before me, like furnishing a new home.

Maybe my nomadic upbringing is filtering into my writing.

C.S. Gomez said...

I just finished my first book as December was beginning, and it's sitting in the proverbial drawer right now while it waits for my editorial pen.

My problem with starting a new one isn't that it's an abyss. It isn't not knowing what's going to happen or what it's about. It certainly isn't finding an idea. The biggest problem is that I don't know which one to dive into. I've got way too many ideas for the next book(s). Each one has a whole notebook dedicated to it through outlines, character sketches, and even a page or two of opening prose. And that's only for three of my ideas. The others are only on the computer, including the one I've half decided to start in on (but I don't have a notebook for it; aagh!).

And on top of that, I'm taking a screenwriting course next semester which will require using one of my ideas and turning it into a screenplay (already picked one) before actually writing it as a book.

So yeah. My problem isn't the big, dark abyss of emptiness. It's the big, dark jungle wealthy with ideas.

David Eric Tomlinson said...

I've learned that I must have an outline. Getting a good one complete is a task in and of itself - but then the daily chunks are all progressing towards something that has been thought through several times from start to finish.

cipherqueen said...

Just write! You can only get better.

Vito said...

As my novel manuscript is currently under review for an M.F.A. degree, I find myself struggling with starting a new project. I've already begun drafting some new work and it's quickly become apparent that this will soon be a new novel in progress, even though I promised myself I would stick with short-form fiction for a while. Yet, with the outcome of the first novel yet undetermined, and the knowledge that some rewrites and revisions on that first project will soon be in order, I find the notion of jumping in head first with this new novel, well, terrifying.

Mira said...

Natasha, that was helpful, thanks.
:)

Well, my advice to you, Nathan, would probably be different than my advice to myself.

For me, I've built a whole log cabin at the edge of the abyss. I'm quite comfortable there. Every night I take a big bowl of popcorn, and I munch it while I stare at the abyss. I contemplate how I just don't have a concept yet. Then I go back inside and watch T.V.

My advice to myself is: Are you kidding me?! Get off your duff and start writing!

Well, you didn't actually ask for advice, but I can't resist. So, my advice to you, Nathan, would probably be the opposite. I'd encourage you, for example, to spend time this weekend watching basketball and building snowmen! Take time to relax and replenish. There's no rush here. Creativity likes to meander around and do nothing for awhile.

Of course, there's a limit to that, too, which is why my advice for myself is of a very different nature! :)

Anonymous said...

start start - beginning? or just getting started? forget starting at the beginning; work out the ending, think middle and end and then and then ... you'll see how it all began or at least where to start from. as to getting started - imagine your life depends on it, there's a gun to your head ... like that, get me ...

Sarah Laurenson said...

I have so many books in varying stages that the problem is choosing the right one to work on now.

Controlling shiny-new-idea syndrome can be just as bad as jumping into the abyss.

Best of luck!

T. Anne said...

I like to start with a good old fashion notebook and jot down some thought and create a very loose outline. I love starting a new WIP. Sometimes I get the feeling that I can't do this because I've somehow forgotten how, but then it all comes back to me. Revisit this line of thought with us when you get to the sagging middle. We'll walk you through it ;)

BTW, I hope you really do build a snowman and watch some basketball. It's all about balance.

If you get a chance, hop around the bolosphere and check out all the great kissing scenes in honor of mistletoe! Go ahead and start with mine, I won't mind a bit ;)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I have to look at it as every little page helping. It's overwhelming to think of starting from the beginning again, but it has to be done.

It's totally an abyss! A big, scary, Star Trek, foreign planet abyss!

Laurel said...

Go, Nathan, go!

Right now you are in the hard work stage of Wonderbar, and have been for a while. But the fun part of book two is still ahead of you. Lots of fun part.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

I've written three novels, two novellas, and a collection of short stories---mostly suspense. My stories begin as movies in my head. I can't write scenes until I've visualized them.

Actually, they're more than movie scenes. They're like real events I've experienced. I become each of my characters. I see what they see. Feel what they feel. That's how I know what they're thinking. How they will react. What they will say.

One of the things I've learned to be careful about is creating too many characters. I usually write in third person, and tend to take the reader into most of my character's heads (not in the same scene). So, the reader gets involved with them---wants to know what happens to them. And if I never go back to one of those characters, the reader sometimes feels cheated.

Best wishes to you, Nathan, for getting your project off to a great start.

Anonymous said...

I think you have to stay with a book all the way. For me, this means through the editing too.
But when a book project is complete, one also has to rest. The field needs to rest before the next planting cycle, otherwise it gets depleted, burned out.
When it's time to begin again:
Sometimes I go for tiny projects first, short-short stories, flash fiction, etc just to get more instant gratification.
Then I test drive ideas. I take them to where they stop naturally.
(i.e., the plot wants to go in two directions and I can't choose.) Some of them require travel and if I can't follow through, I put them down. Maybe I will be able to travel at another point in time. They are also fine to let go.
There are so many ideas.
When one catches my imagination and runs away with me, I find myself compiling the character sketches, dancing with the plot, and I'm off and running.
A book to me, is about a two-year project through editing.
I have to be in love with it to run away with it.
I don't worry about abysses. There are so many ideas that all want my focus. For me, it is about choices, which idea to choose. And inspiration. I have to be inspired.

dendrophilous said...

I'm always so excited about the new idea that it's hard to rein myself in and finish the previous project or take the necessary planning steps rather than diving in and writing.

It's the beginning of the rewrite/revision process that feels like an endless abyss.

Anonymous said...

Lois Lowry said it best. "It isn't the beginning or the end of a novel that's hard - it's the middle." Amen to that, Ed Earl.

mkcbunny said...

I just finished my first novel this fall and am facing the same thing. I know that I need to jump into the next one, and I have a couple of ideas that I'd started before committing to the recently competed book, but it's been so long since I even thought about those other stories that I'm having trouble immersing myself in them again. I don't know if I care about them anymore, or if they are worth pursuing. The alternative is the great abyss, from which I have yet to pull a captivating story.

Meanwhile, I feel like I'm losing time and have to find that idea now, now, NOW. This whole stage is terrifying. In addition to writing, I sill have to find representation for Novel #1; that's a big chunk of time allotted to something that isn't actually writing or getting me any closer to having a second book finished.

Combine all of that with holiday obligations, and, well, frankly, I find it overwhelming.

Rowenna said...

Well...since I'm still working on the agent phase of book one...writing book two is far less nerve-wracking and harrowing than that process! It helps to get attached to new characters, fall in love with new scenes, put ideas in a different egg basket. It might help as well that I don't really write linearally--I'm not looking at writing a book, starting at the beginning. Instead, I'm writing each scene at a time--I get wrapped up in a scene, write it, am engrossed in another--it makes the abyss seem, to me, manageable because it isn't straight down.

mkcbunny said...

Nathan, did you mention that your book could turn into a series? If you have that as a starting point to play with, you could have fun playing around with sequel ideas to get the juices flowing.

Charlee Vale said...

I'm not really daunted at this point. I"m close to finishing one novel, and I'm so jazzed about the next two I can't wait to get started. But my method is, refuse to put a word on paper for the next two until I've finished the absolute full rough draft of the first one. Because I don't want to take the risk of never finishing.

But the beauty of this system is that while I'm finishing, the next novel is broiling in the back of my mind, and the longer it broils, the more it scripts itself for me, and the less work I'll actually have to when the time comes to write it down.

Best of luck! Are you allowed to tell us if this new book is a SEQUEL of Wonderbar?

CV

Nathan Bransford said...

Yup! Contemplating a sequel.

a cat of impossible colour said...

I started the next book before I had a deal for the first, so it wasn't too tricky. As soon as I got an agent and a publisher, however, it became much more difficult - suddenly there was such pressure for it to be better than the first, and I didn't want to let anyone down. I stalled for a while, but then got over it. Now it's chugging along nicely. :)

I find setting a daily quota of work helps a lot with that staring-into-the-abyss feeling.

a cat of impossible colour said...

I also agree with a few commenters here who have said that the first few chapters are easy - it's when you need to connect the dots and make a coherent plot that things get scary!

Anonymous said...

I also have used coaches to work the rough spots with. The coach helps me to do a little four days a week and stay focused on my joy.
I write a paragraph or a scene on each of my writing days (and often it's more, but it needs to be quality more than quantity. That it comes alive for me, is the magic!
The parts I once thought I "had to get through" became some of the most exciting parts ever.

Malia Sutton said...

I always begin a new book on a Friday. It's become habit for me. The only problem this time is that I'll be ready to begin a new book this week, and Christmas Day is on a Friday this year. So I'm going to have to begin this next one on a Wednesday and I'm not too happy about that.

But I always know, while I'm writing one book, what the next one is going to be. Not in detail, but I know the basic storyline.

AB said...

I love a new project. Like waking up with the world covered in snow, it makes me feel like anything is possible.

Ink said...

For me, starting is always the most difficult part, both from an emotional standpoint and a technical one. It's difficult to commit to that first word: the story pushes back. But if an idea is really good I find it gets heavier, it builds a certain density and weight. It begins to move all on its own and its momentum grows and grows...

There's usually a point when I know I have to write it. The momentum of the story is greater than the force holding it back. And then it's just a matter of finding that first word. It helps to just sit down and write it. It probably won't be the right word, but sometimes you won't find the right one if you don't put down the wrong one first.

And I know that once I start, once the words start flowing, the story will be there. Starting is hard, but continuing isn't (with the exception of occasional outside interference). I don't find middles hard, and endings are easy. Endings drag me along whether I want them to or not. But beginnings...

Luckily, though, hidden in that wide, black abyss there are little words, all aglow and fluttering, little fireflies buzzing electrically and humming with the possibility of story. It might be hard to track down the erratic little buggers, but they're out there, waiting. You can see them in your peripheral vision, blinking at you. Invite them in, let them glow. The abyss is full of hidden life. Oh the secrets out there in the dark...

Vacuum Queen said...

Ha! There are no jitters since I have nothing previously published. So...I merely pick and choose from the chunk of story ideas which are written down in various places around the house. Always writing, never finishing. Oh well. Someday I'll move to the "one" that really feels like a finished project.

I can imagine that the one following your first published novel would indeed be tough. Do you instantly go to Jacob #2? Or do you let your story go anywhere and write something completely new? I'm curious to know if you have several ideas floating around in your head. I always do, just wondering if that's standard.

Anonymous said...

While waiting on the contract for my first book in July, I got an idea that had me pacing and constructing scenes in my head in such a fury I couldn't eat or sleep for days. Now I'm nearly through with the first draft. I couldn't imagine waiting for the first one to come out befoe working on another. If I don't have something in the works I feel lost.

Molly H said...

Oh my God! I cannot believe how perfect this timing is. I have just submitted my novel and am staring at that abyss right now. Unsure how any book could ever take shape and mean as much to me as the last one did. I remember feeling like it took me a while to get a hold on it when I was first writing it. Then there was that wonderful/terrible turning point when IT took hold of ME, and did not let me go.
Now, when I write, the characters feel like strangers. I think, "Who are these people? Where are my old friends?" I'll just have to take that leap of faith that eventually a new story will take hold of me, and make me write it.
Thanks Nathan!

C.J. Atsavinh said...

Go for it! I'm nervous throughout a whole project, but what helps me keep it at bay is remembering how much I love my story and how being in that fantasy world makes me live and breathe the magic for whatever I'm creating. Plus I think about how much I want to share that with the real world. So with shaking fingers and beads of sweat on my forehead, I continue on because it's the passion that drives me. And I can tell you have it. So keep believing in yourself as we all do.

Happy Holidays!

Tricia said...

I'm the opposite. I love to start a new story, I don't know how it's going to unfold what new things I going to learn through research. The excitement of a new project only lasts about a month so I write every novel nano style. I write in the morning and edit a different project at night.

Good luck with your sequel.

Judy said...

Jump, Nathan. Just jump.

Bethany Mattingly said...

I am too excited about the new project to think about how daunting it is. Well, until I hit page 40. By that time, I have a good chunk of it finished so I just have to remember to breathe and tell myself that it's only a first draft. Editing is more daunting to me than writing it all.

Anonymous said...

I find sequels easier to write instead of starting out fresh. You already know the characters, their stories which were not included in the other book[s], and have some ideas how they would react to things. So...the place to start is to turn them on their heads. Take everything you know about them and put them in the most outrageous situtation you can think of...and just for the fun of it have at least one act in a very uncharacteristic way (for a reason which is revealed later) and play with how your other characters would react to those changes. And, of course, you need to come up with those new characters and how they react to your character. Think about the fun of it!!!!! Your first one is outer space...so for your second...drop them in the sea...or in the desert...or the mountains...or have some minor detail from the first book come back to haunt them (hey was that really their corndog...how did they pay for it??) ;) Have fun...play and don't stress about it too much!

For something knew, I have to know my characters so I start by writing short stories that will probably never see the light of day. Once you know your characters everything goes from there!

Good Luck and looking forward to reading your work!
PLJ

reader said...

Don't just "start" it Nathan. Hole up somewhere and read, read, read.

It's much easier to take an idea/character/a random plot point or two and have it unravel into soemthing that can turn into a viable book if you are reading.

Reading = no ABYSS!

And good luck to you. :)

Sarah Olutola said...

I find it so hard to shift gears because when you're putting the finishing touches on the final draft of Book 1, you're in a completely different place than where you typically are while writing the first draft of the next book. Like others have said, I basically have to let myself write crap and to not get too frustrated. But then I have to try to detach myself and my emotions from Book 1 and focus on the new project, especially if it's set in a different universe and not a sequel.

But like with all things you just have to keep plugging ahead. Who ever said writing was supposed to be easy :D

D. G. Hudson said...

I'm always excited at the onset of a new book, and yes, I'm one of those that might do a general outline, and chunk the work. By keeping ongoing notes in the outline, I can spot areas where the book needs work.

I consider the abyss a place that needs to be filled, just waiting for my tale to unfold. At the very least the abyss can be the setting or the starting point for thinking and ruminating on what could be.

Good Luck with your creative spirit, Nathan.

Courtney said...

My deep dark abyss comes after about 10,000 words. Before that, I'm so jazzed and into the story that it all just sort of flows. Until the point at which I realize most of it is probably back-story and I will have to scrap it, or when I realize just how much plotting I really have to do.

Courtney Price said...

I usually dive... it's the middle that gets me bogged down :)

Susan Quinn said...

I think starting a sequel is almost harder than starting a completely new novel. Any novel is a huge committment - as you know now, having been through the whole process.

It would seem that a sequel would be easy.
Characters? Check.
Basic World Building? Check.
Um, plot? Well . . .

Rather than start on the sequel for my WIP, that is currently undergoing edits, I decided to write something completely different. I'm almost afraid of the possibilty of my WIP selling, and then I will have to write that sequel - under pressure, no less. So, I understand the abyss.

BTW, I wanted to say I really respect the way you run your blog, especially recently. You are always the consummate professional, and yet still create a warm and welcoming environment for your commenters. That's no small trick, and commend you for it.

Happy Holidays! And good luck on beating back the abyss and getting started on Wonderbar Piece Deuxieme.

Richard Mabry said...

Leaving aside the difference between writing over a prolonged period while trying to get published and writing with a contractual deadline looming, I think a new book always presents a challenge. Can I make it better than the last? What made me think I could write, anyway? Why does the middle sag? What can I do about it?

Wish I had a foolproof answer. Right now, my solution is BIC and not being afraid to rip out a thousand words when necessary.

Heather said...

I think it's easier to start a book than finish it. In the beginning I can't wait to get it all down, and I have a thousand ideas and directions I could go in, but by the end the plot is set and if I don't find the right path for the story than I feel lost and just...wrong. Plus I know when I finish the first draft I have to start editing, eek!

Drgnwrtr said...

I'm not daunted by new ideas, I just start writing, the abyss appears some where around chapter 3 or 4, or is it Mt. Everest that appears? Either way starting isn't a problem as my ideas are as fertile as the dust bunnies behind my couch. I have trouble when it comes to what next.

If you're thinking sequel, that might do me in as well. I am having a bit of a task with one of my sequels. I know what I want it to be about, what I want the characters to do, but its just not happening. I figure I'll have to back up and start some place else...

Linda Godfrey said...

I have to be in love with an idea to want to make it a book, so getting into it is no problem. I'm usually blissful until the honeymoon is over, which is usually a few chapters from the end, and by then it's too late.

Gretchen said...

Starting is the easy part. It's all fun and excitement. I'm an "idea person." It's follow-through and completion that I have a hard time with.

I can imagine, however, that contemplating a sequel could be much more challenging than a brand new set of characters and circumstances. Good luck, Nathan!

fatcaster said...

I stare into the abyss and the abyss stares back. Once that's out of the way, I start the grunt work, because things don't write themselves. Sometimes, words/sentences/paragraphs fight back. At other times they appear on my monitor before I'm conscious of them -- those are the ones I tend to keep (not that they won't be cut or replaced -- I do a lot of rewriting) and almost before I know it, I'm into a new piece.

Happy Holidays

Moira Young said...

I'm at the start of a new project right now. The abyss is more like a really deep swimming hole for me, and I'm filling it. At the moment I'm letting it drip in, drop by drop, allowing my thoughts to form condensation on the edge of my brain before drizzling into it.

When it gets deep enough to dive in without hitting the rocks, I will. But there's a lesson to be had from my childhood spent jumping off cliffs into a canyon river: unless I want to stand there shivering, too scared to throw myself off, then when the time comes, I can't think too much about it. I'll just jump.

And then remember what a shock the water is ... a cushion of glacier-fed river that takes my breath away and feels like the best thing ever all at once.

Dawn Maria said...

I started a new book this fall in a class, but what I learned is that I'm not done with the first one yet. So the new book is on hold as I go through another pass through my novel. I think the key is being done with the big stuff in a previous work before going on to the next thing.

Happy holidays to you Nathan!

JMA said...

I write the first chapter/few pages RIGHT after I finish the last book and stop at an interesting place. This was, after all the edits are done on book one, book two is waiting, ready, started, and at a place that I can't wait to start writing again...

Jason said...

Dude! I never knew you'd written a novel (where have I been???), MGSF no less. Awesome! I will definitely be getting a copy when it's out!

Patti said...

I find it hard starting something new because I feel like I just finished this race and now I have to start all over again except this time I have to run uphill instead of a nice meadow.

CKHB said...

Oh, MAN, yes. I have a LOT of trouble letting go of an old project to start the scary new one. Really, why would I want to start from a blank page when I could just tinker some more with something that's nearly done? Sigh.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

There are no abysses here; writing is like Mount Everest to me. Ideas, like rashes of eager mountaineers, hangout around the base camp.
One idea has reached Camp One (finished and working on edits) and another has scaled as far as Camp Two (re-edited, polished and branching out to find an agent.)
There are three more levels to aspire to until I reach the ultimate goal but the air is mighty thin up there.
The advice, Nathan, seems to be climb high, sleep low, eat healthy and drink plenty of liquids. That sounds like the recipe for a happy holiday too!

atsiko said...

I have to agree with the Mount Everest person, although I'd need more than just the campsites to describe the stages of writing. I can jump right into the "base camp area, and move part-way to the next camp, but about three chapters in is when I start to realize I'm up Mount Everest without a jacket. I don't outline, so the awesome New Shiny carries me partway in, and then I have the whole middle morass to slog through blindfolded.



So, essentially, it's not starting a new porject that's a problem for me, it's finishing one.

ann foxlee said...

I have the opposite problem: new projects seem bright and shiny and perfect, and I convince myself they'll be sooo much easier than the tangled mess of a novel that I'm 3/4 done with...
I constantly make shiny new project files on my computer, and then my crumpled old project cries and wonders why I am cheating on it. I'm not cheating because I don't love it anymore, it's just that the new projects are so...new! No byzantine plot twists that I have to untangle and make readable, no plot holes or continuity issues to battle with...
I always have to fight the urge to leap full force into the new projects, at least until the old one is close to being done. My abyss is staring at a 3/4's of the way finished project!

MzMannerz said...

I am excited to start. After the first few pages, when I've met the character, I have to begin buckling down. It's ADD (seriously).

therese said...

Creatively not writing - refilling the well - is important prior to a major leap into the abyss.

Dabble with notes, read for fun and research, disengage and kick your feet up for a week. The creative process needs a vacation to refuel like any other JOB. The difference is letting the characters come-to-you instead of having work thrust upon you.

For a sequel, make sure your details from book one are easy and handy to review. Think back to when the ideas first began to prickle and flow for WONDERBAR and know the next book will have much the same feeling, when it is time.

I always advise not too push or threaten the muse, she can get really cranky.

Anonymous said...

I like to have the beginning scene, the end scene, and at least a couple of stepping stones in mind before I start writing.

Lisa Lane said...

Starting a new book is always a daunting task, as exciting as it can be. Every time I start a new story, staring at that blank page one, I am humbled by just how much of a process the beginning of the adventure always is. Several hundred pages can take months to write, and I never really feel gratified until I have a nice chunk of work to show for all of the time I have invested into it.

I get through my new book jitters by reminding myself that patience is the key--that it is a slow process, like chiseling away at an enormous sculpture--but the reward for finishing another fun and exciting work is always worth the effort.

Good luck on your new book.

Madison L. Edgar said...

I'm definitely an outliner... Although, sometimes along the way my characters will take a different path. One time, one of the heroes transformed into a villain. It was actually a pleasant surprise!

Lisa Desrochers said...

Usually, when an idea strikes, I'm really jazzed to run with it. Now that I have a contract and a deadline, I find it a little more daunting. Knowing my editor is expecting it, and it needs to be good, is a little more pressure than I'm used to.

Still jazzed though!

Good luck with your edits!

Samantha Tonge said...

It's the opposite for me. I always find a new project widely exciting. The abyss, for me, is sticking with the old project and making sure i give it every chance i can before moving on to my new love - ie the characters and plot of my next book.

David Kubicek said...

I'm in my element when it comes to revision. Starting a new project is like sticking an ice pick in my eye.

Kayeleen said...

So far, in my two novels, I've outlined them completely and put together all the background of the characters before I even put the first word down. It gets me excited when I know where I am heading. I want to figure out how it gets there.

It's the editing that is hard. Neither book has had much work done on it so far. I'm hoping to get them both done in the coming year so that I can work out a system for writing new stuff and editing the old.

Grimmster24 said...

Nathan,

Boy DO I get the new book/project jitters! Well, okay...I guess it is just REALLY hard for me to get past the initial idea stage once said moment occurs. But, I do my best to just let the idea simmer for as long as I can possibly stand it, and along the way I write as many ideas (no matter what they be) down in my writing journal (thank you to my former Rhetoric/Creative Nonfiction professor for this wonderful organizational tool) as I can, once I've got the basic idea(s) figured out.

From there? Well, the idea somehow begins to take shape. ...Or, it dies a horrible, violent death, sometimes by way of that same chasm that we all know and love.

Seeing myself type "chasm" reminds me: I've always liked The Washington Post's neologism contest...

My favorite? "Sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn't get it." (BRILLIANT!)

Happy holidays to you and your family, Nathan. I hope you have a wonderful time.

Maryann Miller said...

I find the beginning of a new project the most exciting time and I am always so jazzed about the new story and new characters that I go like gang-busters. The big black hole comes about the time I am in the middle of the project. I call that "The Boggy Middle Blues."

GuyStewart said...

I know everyone else is offering serious advice, but I just couldn't help thinking that "watching basketball making snowmen" might be more fun than writing a sequel...

LynnRush said...

I love starting a new project. The rush I get staring at a blank screen just before I begin typing...I LIVE for that. :-)

Don't worry, the jitters will pass. Just sit down and jump in. You'll do great!

AM Riley said...

...and the abyss stares back at you. I'm in the midst of a sequel that started out fun and has rapidly headed into the dark unknown.

ANY advice, guides, signposts, flashlights would be helpful... how did this happen? Where am I?

I think sequels are more difficult than first books. There's a certain pre-made skeleton that I have to confine myself to, which is very intimidating. And then the expectations of those who loved the first book (however few they may be) give me performance anxiety.

Watery Tart said...

I actually start pretty well... in fact usually an idea seems to pester the heck out of me and start itself somewhere in the late middle of the LAST book, because MIDDLES are the hard part. I dive in, go great guns... then struggle for a while, then the end starts to pull together easily.

I think I've got 3 book starts waiting for when I finish my current muddle through the middle and slide into home on the WiP.

Lydia Sharp said...

I jump off that lovely cliff without so much as a parachute and enjoy the thrill. I just started my third novel a few weeks ago, so I totally get what you're saying about the jitters. I do my best to let the jitters work FOR me, though, rather than against.

AM Riley said...

Hey 'Watery Tart', any advice about the MIDDLES?

Sounds like a Tolkien Universe, which is definitely how it's feeling at the moment. complete with talking vegetation and wandering plot points...

And this big ugly deadline ticking away in my head.

Orange Slushie said...

i take courage from the nick cave lyric: 'you leapt into the abyss, but find it only goes up to your knees.'

merry christmas, everyone

Kaitlyne said...

I'm jazzed. I'm so tired of editing my last one and so ready to be finished with it that I just can't wait to get started on the next one. :)

Regan Leigh said...

I love starting a new project. For me, the abyss is the editing. Then the editing that follows that editing. And so on. :)

Starting a new story or book is a happy flood of creativity that I crave during editing time. It's my favorite part. I use that desire for starting a new book to help me finish the edits on the previous one.

K.L. Brady said...

I, too, am in that precise place...while trying to force myself out of a minor case of writer's block. I'm excited but at the same time, I know it's going to take me about 80,000 words to complete project 2 and 72,000 words to complete project three. With the exception of editing, I've found the hardest part about writing a book is actually finishing. If I reach my goal, one chapter per project per night, by the end of February I'll have two first drafts done. It'll be worth the pain.

A.L. Bawden~ Author said...

Baby steps...that's how I have to look at it. I find that when I start writing, the story takes me where it wants to go, and so I let it flow naturally. Outlines don't work for me at all...too overwhelming. Good luck with it! I have just started a new book too and I only have a few paragraphs and some notes so far. :)

Yoss said...

The opening is all. Once I have that nailed, plus a vague idea of the ending, the rest is mere agony!

Many moons ago, I began a satire on UK politics with Maggie Thatcher rounding the table in the Cabinet room whacking everyone around the ear with her handbag, thereby provoking an election. The thrust of the satire was the subsequent election campaign.

If I do say as I shouldn't, the half-novel that made it to paper was bl**dy hilarious.

Why half? I had to stop because, to my consternation, the opening scene was thieved by the lady herself. Not sure to what extent the handbag caused grievous bodily harm, but figuratively, Maggie committed political suicide more or less as her image in my satire did.

And, as I came grudgingly to conclude, I could not have satirized the election campaigns that followed more wickedly than they satirized themselves.

Of course, it could always have been worse. Imagine trying to satirize the Nixon Administration immediately prior to Watergate.

Melissa Pearl said...

I LOVE starting a new project. A blank page on screen is so exciting and filled with so many possibilities. I usually start with a brief break down then just get into it. The hard part for me is working through the sludge in the middle, forcing myself to to get to the climax at the end.
Happy writing everybody :)

wendy said...

I'm sure it won't take you, Mr Speedy Gonzales, longer than a year to complete another book. In the meantime I'm waiting with interest to read about Jacob.

However, it takes me around ten years to finish a novel-sized story. (Well, it really only takes about two-three years to finish the bare bones of a story, but the development and fine-tuning are endless for me.) And by the time I'm finished, someone else has written and published a similiar plot. This has happened about three times to me now, and in the last instance the similiarities were so many it was surreal. But I think I'll beat fate by just changing various plot-points. Although it's hard when one story contains vampire-like characters, and the whole mood and theme centres around the noir and the undead. But what I could do is focus on all the elements that preclude vampire actvities and have the vampire-like character acting in a way that is quite different to the norm and yet still with the same seductive, irrestible draw of a creature who is powerful, charismatic and uncanny - but not evil. After watching New Moon, I feel the bite has been taken out of vampires, and am quite sick of the concept. It's time for something different, anyway.

Meghan Ward said...

I definitely find it difficult to start a new project. My first book is done (and awaiting edits) and I've been procrastinating on starting the second, as excited as I am about the idea. Maybe we all need some New Year's resolutions.

Carpy said...

Sequels are always a good way to start a new book because they are a continuation of a character or an era or whatever. The big abyss is a wonderful place to stare into, but even more fun if you close your eyes and jump right in. Merge with it, become one with it. Imagine what your characters would see if they stared into it with you... a river in the future? A lost tribe? If that doesn't work, write the fun things first: the title page, dedication, the acknowledgements, the little quote that ties the book and chapters together. The words and story are there, just waiting for a nudge to come out!

Margaret said...

Writing is my favorite part so it's more like looking at the first step on a grand adventure than into an abyss, but I still outline the shape of it. I try and do the thinking, planning, analytical parts before I begin so that when I'm in the writing phase, I can sink deep into the feel, taste, smell of the place and become my characters on the journey.

wendy said...

You're right about new book jitters, though. I tend to keep rewriting old stories rather than start something new. It's such a huge leap of faith. I've got an idea for a new story, but the work and research would be phenomenal. And I don't know if I have what it takes to pull it off. The idea is that a very special girl called Peace, who is Jewish and lives in Israel, is able to bring about the beginning of peace between her people and neighbouring countries by simply talking to ordinary people and their leaders. This story would not in any way be political. It would border on fantasy, really, as the girl is quite unlike any human being who has ever existed - more like someone from myth. However, she is rather simple and ordinary in some ways, too. The story is called Peace, but apart from the title and the central conceit, and some music, nothing else is done.

Tom Bradley Jr. said...

It's not so much an abyss as it is a hole that needs to be filled. So break out the shovel and start filling!

JoanneFrench said...

Like many here, I LOVE starting and hate finishing. It sounds crazy but most of my characters come to me in a dream. This seem to latch onto my brain and day-thoughts for awhile till they hit the paper. Probably not the best way to start though.

Happy beginnings to you!

Laurie Boris said...

I love starting new projects - including editing existing manuscripts. Experience has taught me that although I have to shift gears a bit, nothing bad happens from simply stepping forward into the abyss. Sometimes it's even fun.

Trish said...

I'm always eager to start a new project.

I've just finished my second junior fiction and I'm working on the third, but an adult book I've been planning, keeps popping into my head. I guess I'll be working on two books, starting on Jan 1st. I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

I never had a problem starting a new project until I found an agent. Now I'm scared to death she won't like whatever new thing I write.

I need to get over this. I'm one of those people who like to say they don't care what other people think, but I do. Oh I do.

Good luck with your next project, Nathan!

AjFrey said...

I love starting a new book. It's about 10K words in where I start getting the jitters. I try to only work on one project at a time, and just save any random thoughts that could be ballooned into storylines for later.

As far as writing, I write mosaic style. To me it is far less intimidating and easier to keep moving. If one part is giving me fits or amnesia, I just write something else. Last step is connecting the dots while singing along Pee-Wee Herman style (LA LA LA)

Good luck with your new project, Nathan!!

Irene said...

The same day I finished edits on my book that comes out in the spring, I started on the new book(s). I'm used to the rhythm of being a magazine editor. There was never enough time between issues to enjoy being done--because we were already on to the next thing.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I actually don't have trouble jumping into something new. Sometimes I have too many new ideas and have to pick which to work on first. I use notecards to jot down basics or some longer notes if there's a project on my mind. Then I can get down to my current piece. I'm the most motivated in the beginning when every character is fresh and just coming into being.

Other Lisa said...

Oh lord. This is too appropriate.

I don't outline and I am good with the "small, steady daily progress" routine. I don't ever tend to write a lot of words at once but I am pretty consistent. However, I'm finding that the pressure is a bit cranked up for me this time out. Should I admit this?

My last book, the one that sold, was just really tough to write, on a lot of levels. This taught me that there isn't necessarily a direct correlation between how the writing feels while I'm doing it and the resulting quality of the output.

This one...gah. Killing me. Because I now feel like I need to do something that at least lives up to the first one (if not surpassing it), and that is an added pressure that no writer needs to have. I do well putting that out of my mind while I'm actually writing, but the in-between times, when I'm not writing and stalled, are definitely tough.

What has helped? Killing someone -- I mean in the MS! And putting my MC through the wringer. I really don't want to look too closely at this...

Anna L. Walls said...

I'm one of those jazzed about the new project, one of which is boiling around in my head right now. I never consider how much work it is. It all goes with the package and there is no point in worrying about it.

Madeleine said...

My original book jitters have passed, and new ones have come to replace them. I finished my plotting last Thursday, and now I can write... Which is what I want to do, right?

Well... Let's just say that it's easier to be dissatisfied with your writing than it is with your plotting, in my opinion. Something about the writing seems more daunting than I ever expected it could be. With me, writing is my life - which is the same with most of the people reading your blog, I'd expect. I guess the writing life can be as jitter-inducing as life in general. I need to make myself reach page five tomorrow.

Sigh.

Good luck with your next book. I wish you inspiration.

hannah said...

I get as much as possible done in the first few days, before you lose the high.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Nathan I have to say, you threw for a loop with this one. I have NEVER thought about being nervous or anxious or anything other than excited about starting a new book. I am always so ready for the new story that I hate the thought of even outlining. I am chomping at the bit to get to the story. Thanks so much for the fresh perspective--I love it when I'm shocked to see something from a new POV!

Franziska said...

Staring at the abyss is scary indeed, but isn't it great once you've jumped? Right now, I feel like I'm flying so fast I can't keep my eyelids closed. It's fantastic!

Munk said...

Writing does't feel like work to me. The only thing I fear is getting pulled in too deep.

Adam Heine said...

Am I daunted by starting a new novel? Heck, yes.

What do I do about it? Just keep writing, but also I plan a little.

Sorry about the shameless links, but I think we're looking at the same abyss.

Valerie said...

I'm definitely one of the "starting is the best part" people.

It doesn't start to feel like an abyss until I've finished the first 15,000 words or so (and exhausted my awesome opening idea) and realize that I have to come up with and write another 40,000 or so before I get to my fantastic finish. Ouch.

Wilhem Spihntingle said...

I love writing, but absolutley loathe editing. Having just completed my first novel (writing, editing, query, synopsis etc..) I can't wait to start into the next one. At this point, I can barely stand to even look at my first manuscript, but the huge feeling of accomplishment and lessons learned during the process, fuel my excitement and confidence to move on to the next one. For me at least, starting a new novel keeps me busy, while I try and find representation for the first one.

WritingToFly said...

I try to have 3 projects going at a time: one in revision, one in drafting, and one in outlining.

By the time a novel is finished to go out on the rounds, I have done 2/3 of the stages for the next one, and 1/3 of the work of the second to next one.

That way, the mountains seem a lot smaller. It's just a series of hills to climb then.

meliaka said...

Wow! So nice to know I'm not spending Christmas holidays alone in "Second Story Slump", LOL. I was in editing for so long with my first novel that I've decided I'd edit any day of the week over fresh writing. And yeah, after having a first book come out this summer, there is that feeling of will this one even find anyone interested? Scaaary....

Alle C. Hall said...

Michael D. Collins suggested a between-books process when I took his workshop on the novel at Centrum Writers' Conference. He writes what he terms "islands of fiction"--writing into an image or a thought, no particular plan in mind. He is hoping for a voice that feels like something he could explore for three hundred pages. By the time he sits down with his islands to start hammering out a draft, he already has about 100 pages. Non-linear to be sure, but still; pages.

Collins' process appeals to me (for short as well as longer work) because my best starts come from the organic rather than the structured side of the spectrum.

Dan Holloway said...

Usually, the start of a new book is like a release of endorphin-packed energy because it's something I've wanted to get to work on for so long but haven't been able to as I've edited away at what's gone before.

The abyss - yup, the abuyss is always there. But it's not the abyss of writing a new book. It's the abyss of knowing that tomake this book better than the last, and to make it say something worth saying, I'll have to go to the dark places inside I've previously left untouched, and this time I may not come back.

Maripat said...

In the beginning: One scene at a time. This works best for me. Keep a pad and pen near by for things in the plot that might change because the characters/muse/whatever makes you rethink things.

In every story I've completed, the last third of the novel gets written faster. Not sure why, but the need to finish is strong, and I end up doing marathons of typing.

Good luck. Each story brings new challenges. Have fun with it.

Jeannine said...

I find the thought of starting a new project exhausting, but once I actually have something down, no matter how horrible it is, I feel a lot better. A rough draft is a good lump of clay to begin molding into a masterpiece.

reader said...

WATERY TART -- author Jim Butcher's advice for what you should do with MIDDLES:

http://jimbutcher.livejournal.com/1865.html

reader said...

Oops, I meant AM RILEY -- that link above, for you.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

A new project always intimidates me. I actually write picture books between novels so I can "play" a bit. It's nice to also work with this shorter format for a time.

Horserider said...

Never. Starting a project is easy for me. I get an idea and I can't wait to start, so much that I can barely concentrate on anything else. It's finishing it that's another matter entirely.

Anonymous said...

I have the exact opposite problem. In the middle of my fourth pass at revisions on a 100,000 word novel, I can hardly focus on the material at hand. Instead, I find my mind longing to get a grip on the new idea. I can only hope the first story is really complete aside from editing because my creative energy has already moved on.

Carl said...

Starting the book is the easy part. It's that whole finishing the book piece that I have issues with!

GhostFolk.com said...

No pressure, Nathan. But...

Unless you hit bestseller status first time out, your second book NEEDS to be at least twice as good as the first one.

Do they make footlong corndogs anywhere?

Happy holidays all!

Lily Cate said...

Starting doesn't bother me- that's probably my favorite part. I put down a few hundred words on a new concept last night, in the middle of revising my current Most Important WIP.

It's the middle of the first draft that's the abyssal plain for me. I usually just plow through, and work out the problems in later drafts. Or while baking, or in the shower, or driving or something. (because when are you ever really NOT writing?)

Luckily, I have no problem highlighting huge chunks of text and hitting "delete".

charlesdentex said...

It must be the country you live in. I live in the Netherlands and here we have no abyss. Our country is flat. So, to me starting a new book is not like staring at the abyss. I love starting a new book. Once the ideas are rolling along in my head, I can't wait to sit down at my desk. Get my fingers on the keyboard - wonderful! After all, if you love writing what's to be scared of?

Claude Forthomme said...

Staring at the abyss isn't the right metaphor for me either.

But I agree about the scary part implicit in that metaphor. It's scary to start writing, you never know where you're going to end up.

In fact, for me another metaphor would work better: writing a new book is more like sculpting, i.e. CHIPPING AWAY AT A PIECE OF CLAY (hoping that you're actually working in marble - but that's not always the case...).
At first, you can't quite see the shape. You have an idea in the back of your mind, you know what it OUGHT to look like, this damn sculpture, but you can't quite force it out of that big, shapeless lump. It's hard work, and you need to chip, chip, chip away every day...

Anonymous said...

One day, the kids from Wonderbar were walking along and, splat, there was a crazy crater that just opened up right underneath them. They were hurling down the abyss WHEN they realized that the flying shoes really worked. The one problem was that the flying shoes went up and they were flying upsidedown. Man, if there was ever a time for a corndog...

Kristin Laughtin said...

Starting's easy. Everything's new and fresh and exciting. It's once you get past halfway but not quite to the end that's difficult for me. I too just try to chip away a little at a time, even when it seems it's taking forever to get there.

Lucinda said...

Nice...never thought of writing a book as an "Abyss"

When I stare at the Abyss, I see adventure. I stand a little closer to the edge of Never-Never Land and raise my arms waiting to be carried off into another adventure where only I may travel.

Starting, middle, editing and even finishing a book is no challenge other than time. Time is a mighty foe that cannot be stopped.

goldchevy said...

I had a nighmare that I was visiting Komodo Island and a Komodo Dragon bit me on the ankle. I asked the tour guide if I was going to die. He said no, but it was going to hurt like hell. I'm not totally sure what it all meant, but the next day instead of revising my first book, I wrote the first two chapters of my second book--which is about Komodo Dragons. Every week I try to write another chapter--just to be sure they don't bite me again.

JenniferWalkup said...

I love love love starting a new book. I write and write and just can't stop dreaming of it until about halfway through when I realize what I'm putting myself through. Again. But seriously, I do it for the love of it and the creation is my favorite part, especially in the very beginning. Revisions are a whole other story.

Kristina said...

I stand at the edge of the abyss for a loooooong time, staring down into it until I feel reasonably confident the jump won't kill me. This is my outlining process, though I know will not be strictly followed. After, I painfully begin the first page, which really does feel to me like jumping over the edge (oh that scary first page!). After a few paragraphs I settle in with the feeling that my parachute has not failed me, until around chapter three, which always seems to be when the parachute snags on a rock.

Ulysses said...

Word count goal. Set one. Keep it. It's the only thing that's worked for me.

I can't write a whole 100K word book, but I can churn out a reasonable limit each day. As the sage tells us: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (it took me a while to figure out that the sage was trying to tell me to go away... far away, but the observation is still sound).

Jenny said...

Is the reason you're hesitating because it's a sequel? Sequels can be rough, like someone else here said, especially if you weren't planning on a sequel. Thinking that you *should* write something is a sure-fire way of killing enthusiasm. After all, we *should* do homework, we *should* pay our bills. Writing is always a pleasure--never a *should*.

C.L. Moyer said...

I have no abyss. I have book ideas stacked up one behind the other. I just need more time in the day. LOL

elementalmoon said...

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!

Anonymous said...

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 said...

Hey Nathan,

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!
-CA

Patti said...

Nathan,

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.

Therese said...

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 said...

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.

Gina said...

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!

Rebecca said...

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.

Sally said...

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!

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