Severe Writer's Block

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Aspiring
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Severe Writer's Block

Postby Aspiring » Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:10 am


Aspiring
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Severe Writer's Block

Postby Aspiring » Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:10 am

Okay, I've beaten my first novel and query letter to death over the last 3 years. I'm trying to find an agent, and have the first 100 pages out right now, but I feel like I can't even look at the novel any more. I'd like to start a second one, as I envision a series and profess this in my query. In drafting a rough outline, however, I can't seem to up the stakes enough to find a real story. I guess I'm looking for the muse, who seems to have taken a leave of absence. What I'm wondering is, how do you pour your heart and soul into a first novel, writing, obsessing, tweaking and putting everything into this first effort, and then find it within yourself to do it again? I can't even seem to get started. Any words of wisdom from the veterans out there?

Curious
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RE: Severe Writer's Block

Postby Curious » Sun Feb 05, 2006 8:42 am

It sounds like you're ready for a brand-new story. Even if you want to write a sequel, you don't have to do it now.

I like to pick my stories for their differences from one another. I just finished a colorful Jello-flavored postmodern science fiction story, so now I'm working on an earth-toned sandlewood-scented fantasy set in mythic India. It's the contrast that attracts me and keeps me interested. Too much of the same thing is boring!

Clare

Aspiring
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RE: Severe Writer's Block

Postby Aspiring » Sun Feb 05, 2006 9:23 am

I think you might be right. I feel a little overwhelmed in general about starting another one. It's such an undertaking, and I was surprised I was able to do it in the first place. Maybe I'm just not ready to take on another one. I'm encouraged by everyone here, especially at all the successes, but also a little intimidated.

Prof Durden
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RE: Severe Writer's Block

Postby Prof Durden » Sun Feb 05, 2006 10:13 am

I've finished two novels (not to brag or anything), so I can sort of maybe feel your pain. My philosophy is: I don't sit down and say "I'm going to now write a novel" and then set to it. I just write, if it comes out as a short story, then so be it. If it's a novel, then great. Then I'll have something else to ignore and never get around to trying to sell.

Aspiring
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RE: Severe Writer's Block

Postby Aspiring » Sun Feb 05, 2006 10:21 am

Yes, I think that's it. I shouldn't sit down to start a novel. I should just sit down to write.

yudelka
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RE: Severe Writer's Block

Postby yudelka » Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:22 pm

I haven't written a novel, YET, nor have I sold anything I've written, YET. But I really want to start one and that's exactly the problem I've had. I haven't been writing for very long, so it seems very overwhelming to "sit down to write a novel."

I'm working on something that I was hoping would lead to a novel as opposed to a short story, but we'll see what happens.

Jamesaritchie
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RE: Severe Writer's Block

Postby Jamesaritchie » Mon Feb 06, 2006 3:17 am

I guess I fall on both sides of this issue. There is such a thing as sophomore jinx in novel writing, and most writers find the second novel to be the toughest they'lle ever write.

Because of this, I do think it's good to get away from writing novels for a time. Write some short stories, article, essays, columns, poem, whatever. Get your sinuses cleared before tackling a new novel.

But I'll disagree on this point. If you want to write a good, publishable novel, the best way to do so is to sit down with the intention of writing a novel. It needn't be intimidating. Sitting down to write 100,000 words may intimidate anyone, but novels are written one word at a time, just like short sthroies, and sitting down to write a word, or a page, is no more difficult with novels than with anything else.

The thing is, novel structure is unique. A novel isn't simply a very long short story, and trying to write a novel by simply getting 100,000 words on paper almost guarantess and unpublishable novel. The structure must be right, alol teh threads in teh tapestry must be there, or what you'll end up with is a short story that's 100,000 words long, and a saint couldn't read it without being bored to tears.

To get the structure correct, to make something a true novel rather than a short story, usually means doing so intentionally, knowing what you're doing right from page one.

The trick is to do it one page at a time, rather than looking at it as a 100,000 word whole.

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RE: Severe Writer's Block

Postby Curious » Mon Feb 06, 2006 3:39 am

I agree with James on the intent to write a novel. I can't imagine one developing almost accidentally on the screen. I love the novel form with its twists and turns. It's such fun to keep the reader off-balance and guessing what will happen next, and I find that easier to do when I can work with a really broad canvas.

When I sit down to write a new novel, I usually have a very good idea of most of the major and some of the minor turns the story will take. Often, I have no more than "thirty seconds of film" in my head to explain that particular twist, but I know that the twist will be there in its proper place. This lets me know what to highlight as I drop a bread-crumb trail for the reader. Of course, I can and do tighten this later in revision, but I'd hate to have to rework ALL of it in revision: I may set the entire emotional tone of a certain section to chime with that distantly looming twist!

Short stories require their own discipline. Although I sometimes write them, I don't enjoy them as much as a good, tight, no-idea-where you're taking-me novel. To each (if we have an each, and I do) his own.

Clare

Aspiring
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RE: Severe Writer's Block

Postby Aspiring » Mon Feb 06, 2006 4:17 am

I think there have been some good points here and they have given me direction. I think I'll take some time to write an essay or two. I've sold a few little ones in the past but haven't done anything recently because I was putting so much into the novel.

I'm encouraged to hear about the sophomore jinx -- that it's not just me in such a slump. I have started mapping out a plot, but have not gotten very far. I'll let the ideas percolate, as one of my writing teachers used to say, and get back to it at some point in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, I can keep the old juices flowing by writing something other than a novel. I hope.

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