When I finally released my first novel, Finding Meara, out into the world, I thought I’d feel all kinds of wonderful, warm-fuzzy feelings, joy, exhilaration, excitement. Something!
The reality? I felt nothing. Not a darn thing – be it a good feeling or a bad feeling. I didn’t even feel relief that it was done. This normally wouldn’t have been much of a concern, but I’d read that a self-published author needs to get lots of work out – fast – so I was feeling pressure to get my writing mojo back. The conundrum? I couldn’t even enjoy the fact that I’d actually published my first book. How on the earth could I get excited to start the second?
Upon the advice of fellow self-published authors, I decided to cut myself a break and not freak out (as I have a tendency to do) but, at the same time, not writing at all wasn’t an option for me either. I needed to find a way to ease myself back into finding the fun in creative writing. I concluded a visit to my writing roots was in order.
While I’m not good at it, poetry is one form of writing I’ve always enjoyed. A Sunday or two ago, I found a poetry form called a Sevenling in Writer’s Digest and slipped into the life of a unicorn being chased by a hunter. While it’s not a very good poem, I had finished under an hour. I’d played with words and lost myself in another world. There are many poetry prompts on the web, but I like Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides from Writer’s Digest. My friend and poet, JoAnn J.A. Jordan, has daily prompts and photos on her blog which are fun to draw inspiration from as well.
I began my writing journey creating short stories, and moved into flash-fiction because you can complete an entire story in a short period of time. It’s actually hard to write a good flash-fiction story, and I just happened onto a couple of wonderful blog posts about how to write effective flash-fiction and short-stories around the same time I began drawing a story together. It must have been fate. The first is a three-part series called “How to Write a Sci-Fi Flash Fiction Story” by Lydia Netzer. Although it’s geared toward Sci-Fi, the information relates to any flash-fiction story you might want to write. Another article I found helpful, which I actually read long ago, is “Tripping the short fantastical: some tips for writing short fantasy and supernatural stories” by Sophie Masson on Writer Unboxed.
Finally, I read Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland, and became so excited to put the tips I’d learned into use that I started to have that itchy, get-writing feeling. Yay! So, that’s how I got my writing groove back. Tonight I’m going to work a little on the second of the Adven Realm Adventures. Now that my motivation is back, hopefully the muse will come for a little visit too!
Lara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist. She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic and to laugh. You can find Lara on several different social media sites, with all links listed on her website, laraschiffbauer.com. Her debut novel, Finding Meara, a contemporary fantasy, released in March and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes.
11 responses to “How I Got My Writing Groove Back, by Lara Schiffbauer”
Interesting coming across your post today.
Boy, do I know what you’re talking about. When I finished my first (and only) novel, I thought I was off to the races. I thought I’d just breeze into the next one.
The (gasp!) year+ that followed the release of my book has seen many starts and stops in my attempts to write a sequel. There have been weeks where just thinking about writing has brought on panic.
Like you, I also decided to cut myself some slack (although my reader’s aren’t happy about that).
I think you’re right. You need to cut yourself a break. And you also need to keep writing. After a long break, I made myself commit to a weekly blog post where I submit my WiP’s. This keeps my fingers moving, and I get lots of encouragement.
I’ve also decided to tackle a short story before finishing the next novel. I did this just to take more pressure off. I need to feel like I’m completing something new after all this time. It seems to have worked (thank goodness) because, like you, it sure feels like my elusive muse is back.
I’m so happy you were able to feel some relief and make friends with your muse. Those creatures can be so fickle! When I mentioned my lack of emotion on a post on my blog, a friend commented that he thought publishing/writing a novel sucks the life out of a writer. I laughed, but it’s kind of true. We put so much effort to getting it “just right” that it seems to take away from the actual joy of accomplishing what we set out to do!
It didn’t suck the joy out of writing, but there was some definite ‘sucking’ going on – sucked the life right out of me. Took a lot longer to recover than I thought.
YES – thank you for this blog post, Karen and Lara. (Karen – for always having the insight to share other’s writing and posts, Lara, for sharing your insecurities and demons with us). I, also, just self-published in January and have done well for a first-time author, but want to follow up my book quickly with the next one. And yes, for awhile, nothing will come. Our muse is broken (or should I just say, tired out?). But I teach creative writing and my students and I write a lot of flash fiction. Voila – that’s the way to invite the muse back into our lives, into our souls. She wakens, ‘Ms. Writing Muse,’ with the tantalizing words of a poem or short short story. Then we allow her to get stronger and stronger, and before you know it, the bigger story is emerging also. Thanks for all the wonderful inks!
Congratulations on self-publishing and I’m glad you’re doing well with it! I’m feeling good to have my suspicions that we need to keep writing in SOME form confirmed! Flash fiction is so fun! I lean toward the 750 word versions, but I’m trying to get the 500 word form down. I’ve read 100 word flash fiction which is more powerful than a novel. I only dream of being that good! Wishing you continued good luck with your book!
Great resources, Laura, and thank you for sharing this with us. I don’t write fiction at all, but I’m a great believer in the theory of “priming the pump.” The means for doing this can vary with our own needs and personalities, but the notion that an exercise or routine can help, even if it doesn’t feel inspired, makes sense to me. “Do SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong.” 🙂
Hi, Elizabeth! I totally agree with priming the pump! When I started writing “seriously,” I read a book called “Write Brave and Free.” They said to start a writing habit, where you write 10 minutes a day, no matter what. It doesn’t have to be fiction, but some form that makes writing something you DO instead of something you FEEL like doing. It was the best advice I’ve read. I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t say I don’t always make it every day (like recently, it’s a hit or miss), but just even trying to get writing in every day keeps it at the top of my priority list. Thanks for reading and commenting!
What a wonderful post! Love the awesome links and your inspiring words. xxxd
Thanks, Denise! You’re so sweet! 🙂
I need to thank you, Karen, for letting me post over here with the Sharks! It’s always fun to say “hi” and get to know new people.Thanks!
You are always welcome here with The Shark, Lara. And it takes a little pressure off of me to have a guest. Especially a guest you keeps pumping the conversation like you did here. It was a spring day here in North Dakota, and I decided to clean up outside, read, play soccer (grandkids), and generally just enjoy the weather. Thanks for taking all comments.