I sat in front of my computer screen, staring at the open Word document. The Silver Spear. The sequel to The Violet Fox. A book that I love dearly and that other people love too.
And yet, I had no idea what to write.
I was over 12,000 words in–and I had one or two key scenes mostly finished, and some snippets of others–but there were a lot of blanks in my mind. Like: how was I going to get Kiera’s mission to find the Silver Spear to be believable? Was it going to have a cliffhanger ending? Do I even have enough material for a third book? A fourth book? I was at 12,000 words for a long time. Nothing was moving. I had no new thoughts or ideas.
Book bloggers were raving about The Violet Fox, and I couldn’t let my readers down. I never had this much trouble with a sequel before. If it wasn’t better or at least as good as the first book, I would feel like I’ve failed my characters.
So what did I do?
I left it alone for a few weeks, and tried not to think about it.
Then as I was musing over what to publish next, and re-discovered my Sparkstone series, it was like a light switched on in my brain. Another project. Something that I would work on, not just to distract me, but something that could get my mind going. I had an outline for Sparkstone—the characters, the setting, an overview of the plot—but I didn’t have many specifics. I had 500 words in a word document, half a prologue. Within a week, I expanded this to 10,000 words, not quite half of my 35,000 word target.
So how was I able to write thousands of words on this once-abandoned project, and almost nothing on the project that my readers are excited for?
Regardless of whether you’re a writer, working on a project where you feel like you’re under a lot of pressure–whether this pressure is something you’re putting on yourself, or not–can reduce your desire to complete the work. Writing teen fiction isn’t always fun, and it’s easy to get frustrated if you feel like you’re working on a project that’s going nowhere. Taking a step back, working on something else that captures your imagination–that’s the key. This second project can be like your rock, where you go to play and have fun while your mind rests.
Not long after I hit 10,000 words on the Sparkstone project did suddenly the ideas start to come for The Silver Spear. Plot points are starting to connect. I’m even getting ideas for the third book, something I wasn’t even sure was going to happen. I’m confident now that I’ll be able to finish a draft of this book within the next few months, in time for a fall publication next year.
Sometimes you just need to do something else to get those wheels turning. Don’t be afraid to get up and walk away from things that don’t work.