In the last four months, I’ve gone from a writing obsessed hobbyist to a querying hobbyist to an agented writer to a writer with a book on submission. Seeing my endless hours of toiling bear fruit is exiting and wonderful. But it’s also terrifying. Giving up control of my book has been hard. I never thought doing nothing could be so draining. I’ve gone from controlling every nuance of the process, every piece of punctuation, every space and preposition to…sitting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more, while checking my email so compulsively, that it’s a wonder my finger doesn’t have calluses from pressing “refresh”. (Thank heaven for touch screens.)
The best medicine I’ve found is to keep doing what I like best—writing. To paraphrase the character of Dori in Finding Nemo, “Just keep writing, Just keep writing. Just keep writing, writing, writing.” There’s no distraction like the daunting task of writing another book. But . . .
Can I Do It Again?
Is there another story inside my head that someone, anyone, would want to read? Or did I pour so much of my heart and soul into the first one that I’ve dried up?
Fearful thoughts are forceful creatures. They say, “Your first book was luck. You’re not really a writer. You barely knew what you were doing the first time.” And even if there is another story in me, those doubts threaten to drown it.
Doubt is The Worst Enemy of Any Artistic Endeavor.
And I’m faced with a legitimate question, how in the hell did I do it the first time?
Seriously, I know I put in hours and hours over weeks and months, but what was I actually doing? The time has blurred together so badly I’m left wondering if I was doing no more than playing with magnetic poetry. Maybe I was.
The first book took me thirteen months, from conception to submission. I took four months scattered within that year to let it percolate while I entertained myself with other projects.
My new project is one of those drafts I pounded out “for fun” during those breaks. The concept is polar opposite from my first one, as light as the other was dark, as urbane as the other was gritty. So I’m faced with an even harder truth, even if I could remember how I did the first one, this project is so different, the same strategy could never work for this one.
I have to Re-invent My Process All Over Again
And the doubt monsters pound on my door and creep around the frame like ghosts infiltrating my psyche. They block my way forward and threaten me with thoughts like, “You’ll never be able to do this. No one wants to read what you write.”
Disgusted, I stare them down until they retreat into silence.
It’s so easy that it surprises me, and I realize the number one thing I learned from my first project was how to circumnavigate my doubt monsters.
They used to derail me for days into the land of “I can’t do this.” It took up large blocks of time during my first project, far more than playing with magnetic poetry. I’ve learned to recognize the doubt monsters, the fearful road blocks, and I can see them coming now earlier and earlier, before they invade and debilitate my imagination. I’ve learned to evade them with detours.
I’ve Discovered My Inner Navigator.
My visceral need to write takes the wheel and warps “I can’t do this” into “I want to do this.” The “I want” frees my boundless font of ideas, and I know there’s more than enough for another book in me.
There’s enough for a lifetime of books.
The raw ideas are so numerous, they’re unwieldy. They require a veritable hodgepodge of trial and error. Piecing them into something that looks like a plot, or has the potential to be one, a scene or a sentence, is a challenge littered with new doubts. How do I transform these ideas into something comprehensible to another person?
There’s another doubt monster. Not sure how I’ll navigate that one yet.
Then I think just how much better I’ll be at detouring my road blocks by the time I’m on my third novel.
And maybe in the process I’ll learn to check my email a little less often.
Robin Lovett, also known as S.A. Lovett, writes contemporary romance, and her debut novel, Racing To You, will be released July of 2016. She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency and has a forthcoming series releasing with SMP Swerve in the summer of 2017.
She writes romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs and housework. To feed her coffee and chocolate addictions, she loves overdosing on mochas. When not writing with her cat, you can find her somewhere in the outdoors with a laptop in her bag. Feel free to chat with her on Twitter.