First, some cool news: Juliet and I have both been nominated in the DABWAHA Tournament 2010. From the official site:
For newcomers, the DA BWAHA is a tournament of books where we put up a field of 64 books and you vote until there is one book, one champion. The contest is twofold. First, you must fill out a bracket identifying which book will win each round. Then you vote.
Now for your regularly scheduled blog post.
I’d heard it, known it was true: Writing your second novel can be very, very difficult for a wide number of reasons. Mostly, you need to be able to return to a state of creativity without the clutter left behind in the wake of the first book (meaning, that book’s creative process, that book’s promotional and marketing push, all that you didn’t know, all that you needed to learn). So often we hear writers liken their books to their children. Regardless of how firmly you embrace or repel that concept, I’m here to tell you that the aftermath of sending your first book off into whatever sunset it can find can be as exhausting as the aftermath of childbirth. And then it’s time to do it all again — write a second book.
One of the best ways to learn is to teach others. So I’m here to tell you something, share something, but really I need to hear this as well: Rules to help you survive the second novel. Composed with a little help from my friends.
Rule #1: After your first book is out there, it’s true you’ll have too many voices in your head competing with those of your characters–including those of reviewers. Don’t try to please everyone. Write for only ONE person–someone who’ll love your concept. (ht Barbara O’Neal )
Rule #2: Take out some of your best work and scrutinize it. Remember how good you really are. And write every single day to keep the story and your characters alive within you. (ht Amy MacKinnon)
Rule #4: Floundering is normal. You may not know what you’re really doing until you’re several hundred pages in. Do whatever you have to do to get there. (ht Marilyn Brant)
Rule #5: Allow yourself to write badly. Just because you’ve gone through this already, just because you’ve written a book with beautiful words and beautiful phrasing and beautiful moments, doesn’t mean you’ve earned some sort of Auto Beauty Writing Tool. Draft spelled backward is Sucks. I dare you to disagree with me. (ht Barbara O’Neal)
Rule #6: Shut the door every once in a while. Don’t be the author all of the time — the person focused on all aspects of writing, but especially the publicity — be the writer. Writers “write and read and daydream about writing,” and care quite a bit less about Facebook and Twitter and all the rest of it. (ht Carleen Brice)
Rule #7: You’re the one with the vision. Own it, then never doubt. Your work will be so welcome in the world. (ht Kathleen Bolton)
Rule #8: There’s no magic formula or perfect way to plot. Every story’s different, each journey to discovering it unique. But no journey evolved by standing still and worrying about it. Move.
Rule #9: Continue to improve your craft, and apply what you learn to your wip. I’m taking an interesting online workshop later this month on Theatrical Techniques to A Blockbuster Novel, conducted by Leanna Renee Hieber, author of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. And I’m going to be attending Grub Street’s Muse and the Marketplace conference in Boston in May, which I know will be fantastic.
So there it is, advice for you, advice for me. Have you survived a second book — or a third or fourth or fifth or… ? How about a second draft? What did you have to do to push through the barriers to produce to your potential?
Photo courtesy Flickr’s Rennett Stowe