How do I start writing again?

I’m lost. I miss writing LIFE-LIKE. I knew the story and my characters so well. I knew where the story went, what needed to be done to make it better, and ultimately when it was time to begin querying agents. And now I’m home alone without it and it sucks.

I don’t know how my prolific friends do it or those authors who write a series. Tell me, please. How did you move on?

Before I was finished with  LIFE-LIKE, I dreamed about the next story. I was excited thinking I had another story in me. I jotted down chapter titles, plot ideas and themes. But I can’t seem to move on them. The page is still empty. I can’t flush it out. Perhaps it’s anxiety from querying. I’m not sure. I have to catch fire again.

I know all sorts of tricks. I could sit and write for five minutes. I could pick a random sentence from a book and see what it inspires me to write. I could randomly choose three words from a book and see how I could weave them together in a ten minute writing exercise. I could read one of the six books I have stacked up on my to read list. But something is holding me back. I wish I had a writing partner, a friend to sit next to as I begin my first draft.

Hmm, maybe if I tell you a little about my idea? The next story involves a character from LIFE-LIKE. Her name is Mary and she’s a train wreck. She’s an alcoholic, party girl who makes many mistakes and yet she has a big heart, despite her bravado.

Anyway, any advice you can share about how you keep writing is appreciated.


7 thoughts on “How do I start writing again?

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  1. You state, “Before I was finished with LIFE-LIKE, I dreamed about the next story. I was excited thinking I had another story in me. I jotted down chapter titles, plot ideas and themes. But I can’t seem to move on them.”

    MY advice to you would be this: regarding the plot ideas, start by writing a few key dramatic scenes and then connect them with shorter, connecting scenes (also called sequels).

    OK, we know Mary is an alcoholic party girl who hates her life. Show her falling into her old habits that results in something bad happening, say, she runs over a dog. To make up for this sin, Mary volunteers in a dog shelter and meets a handsome guy who is also an alcoholic and wants a drinking buddy. Mary has to decide if she wants to be stuck in a downward spiral of alcoholism or change her life forever and maybe pursue Mr. Nice Guy, who is maybe not so devastatingly handsome as Mr. Alky, but at least doesn’t drink.

    Refer to Dwight Swain’s technique of constructing your scenes as units of conflict with a goal, a conflict, and a disaster, and the sequel comprised of a reaction, a dilemma, and a decision.

  2. I actually love this phase of the story creation. There’s that big blank page and the urgent need to fill it with something fascinating.

    Have you ever tried doing tarot card readings for your characters?

    I’m sort of skeptical when it comes to actual tarot or fortune telling in general, but there’s something about how that process has enough ambiguity to draw interesting ideas out from your subconscious (or maybe your unconscious). That’s why I own all sorts of different fortune telling card systems (Rider-Waite, Archetype cards, Animal Spirit Guide Oracle cards). They usually come with instruction booklets with different ways to do readings. Just do readings for your various characters and see what you discover. Loads of fun!

    1. John,
      There is something about you that is so kind and generous I find it astounding. And, talk about ironic- my character in Liv, in my book LIFE-LIKE, does get a tarot card reading, and it was one of the coolest things for me to dive into. And sitting on my bookshelf are Tarot Cards, Rune Stones, Unicorn Cards, and Druid Animal Oracle cards next to a Zohar, and books about psychic abilities and Ask and it is Given.

      I’ve been thinking about my next protagonist, Mary. She’s tough and goes through some narly things. I think maybe I’m building the pyschic energy to write her story. It’s going to be dark, and that scares me a bit, I think.

      Thanks again for the wonderful ideas. They put a smile on my face.

  3. Gosh, Holly, I have no really good words of advice except that I sort of deal with this all the time myself. I have to *force* myself to just get started. I call it “overcoming the intertia” and once I’ve written a couple hundred words I can keep going. It’s that getting started part that happens on a daily basis.

    It is also true that after I’ve finished a major project with its tons of revisions my mind and psyche needs a break. I always think I’m going to jump right in on my new ideas (of which I usually have several so that’s not the issue) but I usually just *can’t*. I need some down time. Rejuvenation. Recovery. Go out and live and get away from the desk. Read. Watch some movies. Go somewhere fun and new. Have lunch with writer friends. After 2-4 weeks I’m usually raring to write again. Especially if I take 1-2 weeks to just start thinking and brainstorming and daydreaming about my new book idea. Hope this helps! xo

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