Second book syndrome can create certain hurdles that you might not have been expecting following the success of a project. Today, I want to talk about some different things to think about to help you get past this.
The first book that you wrote was not a fluke, it just happens to be the first book that you wrote. Every manuscript is different. Every single manuscript is different, and often times we forget what it was like at the beginning of the process. We lose touch of how many changes we have made. Just as children are different, every single manuscript is different, and that’s OK. In fact, it’s a beautiful thing. If you only churned the same thing over, and over, and over again that would show no growth whatsoever, and that’s not what we’re going for.
A first draft means first go. It will be edited, so don’t worry too much and stop self editing. A first draft is supposed to flow, and so I often spend a lot of my time breaking this down for my one-on-ones and my group coaching clients. Avoid editing as you go and think of your content as a river. It flows in one direction, in this case that is forward. Don’t look back and fix your typos or anything else.
If you are fully emotionally involved in the story that you’re writing, and you are present with the underlying story, you will not worry about what’s going to happen when you finish the story and it’s sent out to other people. You’re not there yet. You don’t have a full story, so don’t worry about what’s going to happen later. Use the tips below to stay with the story.
This is key. You don’t need to have structure to the Nth degree. In fact, I normally recommend against that because I like my clients to have a little bit of flexibility to let their characters and the story refine itself and take them down paths they weren’t expecting. You do, however, need to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, so spend some time on your story mapping, or revising it and getting comfortable with the fact that you will revise and that’s OK. Again, growth is so important here.
If you’re feeling into your writing but then feel hit with an emotional or energetic change from a scene change, it’s ok to put a placeholder in and move on. The goal here is that you get some writing done. If you want to skip ahead and write a scene out of order, that’s OK too. My best advice when you’re heading up against blocks is to take the path of ease. Write what feels good to write, get yourself into motion and that will help. Then you can go back and fill in those other spaces.
It’s good to have yourself set out with a writing practice where you’re sitting down at a particular time every day. Depending on what works for you, you know what time you are at your best for writing. If you’re sitting down at that time and you find that your mind is really caught on this broken record of anxiety and not engaged with your story, step away. Do other stuff, and honestly, do that for as long as you need to. If you are writing from your own volition, you have permission to step away from the computer/the typewriter/your paper and pen. Go and live life. Get your energy back, get your passion back for the project and sit down when you feel good about sitting down. If that means taking a longer step away, that’s OK.
If you are pushing forward with a story and there are several things that aren’t necessarily coming together and you find yourself losing intensity or the passion that you had, you also have permission to switch to another project. It may be just the break that you need to get yourself, your head and your heart, back in the game for this project.
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