Wednesday, April 3, 2013

100 Writers: The Black Hole After the Great American Novel

For our first installment of the 100 Writers Project, more information on the project here, I'd like to introduce Trisha Schmidt.

So I finished it. I did it. I finished my first ever novel. Now what? I’ve finished the second draft edits of my novel, but I need to set it aside in between edits to clear my head and come back with fresh eyes.  So the question is: what do I do now? I have other ideas. Quite a few of them, actually, but none seem to want to slide into place and get off the ground. Writing this first one was too easy. I sat down during Camp Nano last August and the words flowed. They really flowed. When I had struggled to get 2000 words on most days with other projects, I was kicking out 3k-4k words on most days during that month. Sixty-five thousand words in a little over 30 days. A complete rough draft.  And now? Now I stare at the screen.

What’s different now? What changed? I think the greatness of having that first one finished, for starters. That constant flow of words that happened almost every time I sat down to write was amazing and freeing. I would worry for a few minutes and then, when I started to type, it flew by. I would realize I had my 3 or 4 thousand and knew it was a good day. I’m not sure if I’m psyching myself out because those words flowed so easy. I also second guess my ideas. They’re boring or have been done before. I strive to be original and have stories that are different. There are only so many stories to tell out there before they have similarities. I just need to convince that part of my brain to let go and just write.

How does one let go of that first novel? I can’t 100% let go because it isn’t finished in the sense that it still needs a lot of editing, but I need to move forward with my writing. I have successfully written blog posts along the way. I’ve done plenty of rewriting with at least 10k words added to the first novel. I have written, just not a new story.

At this point in my writing career, I am still learning every day. I hope that I will always learn, but, being a newer novelist, I have learned so much in the last year. I’ve learned that I’m capable of finishing a novel. I’ve learned that editing is as awful as I first thought it was, but that it is also thrilling to see the first draft mutate to something else, something more. I’ve learned that publishing a book is even harder than I thought and that getting an agent requires more writing still.

All these things have more than likely added to my case of writer’s block. I keep learning and the more I know, the more I can overthink. I can really psych myself out now. What if I picked the wrong POV and that turns all the agents off? What if I don’t get the YA voice correct leaving teenagers not wanting to read it let alone anyone else? Now I really get what they mean when they say writing is hard. It’s hard to have faith that you wrote something fresh and new. That what you’ve written is the next big thing. And when you doubt the first, how can you move on to the second or third?

Thank goodness for the shower and its magical power of persuasion. I am working through my block. I realized that a great story is great no matter what POV you choose. Yes, I realized this in the shower. I’ve also come up with bits and pieces of the story I hope to turn into a novel in the shower.

Then there’s Nano. Camp Nanowrimo is again upon us and they have changed the rules. You can change your writing goals. For those who don’t know of Nanowrimo, It is a crazy writing challenge where people sign up to write 50k (or whatever you choose for this lesser offshoot called Camp) and join other writers to accomplish this goal. The main challenge is to get you in the habit of writing consistently for 30 days and also to help people finish a project they start. Many don’t finish their story but hit the word goal and writing daily is a great start to finishing a project.

I am surrounded by plenty of writing friends who are also participating in Camp which helps me to move forward. Nothing like a little competitive spirit to get things moving. Nano believes in  getting the words on the page. No inner editor allowed here. Just write. I can work out the problems when I edit since all writing is really rewriting anyways, right? Who knows if I will finish my next novel during Camp or if I will abandon it to come back another day, but at least it is a goal and having a goal is the first step.

I know that I will get my mojo back eventually whether it is now or 5 months from now. I just have to relax and have a little faith that I can tell a story no one else can tell. I certainly like to believe my ideas are different. Regardless if they are different or not, I need to find the fun again, and maybe throw my characters into a bad situation or two. Who knows what will happen?

Trisha Schmidt
I'm a writer who is plugging away at my first novel and stumbling through the whole process as I do! Draft one is done and I am learning editing as I go with the drafts 2 and 3 and who knows what number I'll stop at! With a great love of movies, I also write screenplays. 

I can be random (as are my posts!) and my filter seems to be broken so I say what is on my mind. Exclamation points are one of my first loves!!!! Feel free to love them with me!

Becoming a published author is my goal so strap yourself in, it's gonna be a bumpy, crazy ride!

For more from Trisha Schmidt check out her blog seeredwrite or follow her on twitter @seeredwrite.

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