February 27, 2012

Second book jitters

By: Jennifer Ann Coffeen 

When I first began writing the goal was always on finishing the novel. I was told (rightly so) to keep my eye on the prize, and did this through countless revisions, edits, critiques, and writing days. There were times when I thought it would never be done and then suddenly – it was finished!

Next came all the polishing, querying, and more editing. Then, after Priceless Deception was accepted by Wild Rose Press I was engulfed by marketing, promoting, and selling.  It’s been a crazy ride since August (did I forget to mention I also had a baby last year?) But the time has finally arrived when I had to get back to the writing desk for….the second novel. (Cue scary music here.)

60,000 words in, Novel #2 is proving to be just as challenging as the first. One main difference is that I am both more confident and more terrified. When I started writing Priceless Deception I felt free to write anything I wanted. Why not?  I didn’t really think anyone was going to read it. With this novel every kiss that turns just a little too hot becomes a potential embarrassment when I imagine my mom, my friends, even my neighbors reading it! So how to combat those second book jitters? Here are a couple of suggestions.

  1. Go back to the basics. The second book must be easier to write than the first, right? WRONG. I still struggle over plot, word choice, and structure, not to mention forcing myself to sit in the chair every day.  Instead of fighting it, I decided to go back to square one. I set a daily word count, created a sacred writing time, asked for feedback and all those little tricks that got Priceless Deception finished.
  2. Change up your story. If you find yourself paralyzed, try writing a contemporary or paranormal romance instead. It just might be the jolt you need to get the creativity flowing. I decided to write a couple of regency short stories last year. It was fun and gave me a little writing distance from a full length novel.
  3. Block out the world. You can worry about your 2nd grade teacher reading that scandalous wine cellar scene later. Don’t think about pleasing agents, editors, or fans. Write the book you want to write and the rest will fall into place.

Of course all this is much easier said than done! I would love to hear from other writers. How do you combat second (or third, or eighth) book jitters? 

Jennifer Ann Coffeen is a published author currently living in Chicago. Her novel Priceless Deception and novella Lover's Gamble are both available now from The Wild Rose Press. Her work has been featured regularly at the kates, a group of women solo performers who perform the last Saturday of every month at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Jennifer is a founding member of the kates, and has also written and performed original work as part of Numbskull, the Human Blockhead; The Muffin Basket Cases; and Beastwomen Female Cabaret. She is a graduate of Columbia College, and has studied at Story Studio Chicago, where she also works as part of the Chicago Literary Alliance.

“The French Blue diamond must be destroyed.” 

Haunted by the words of her dying father, Lady Madeline Sinclair arrives for the London Season with more than parties and the latest fashion on her mind. She has sworn a vow, and the beautifully headstrong and fearless Madeline will allow nothing to distract her…until she meets the infamous Lord Colin, Duke of Douglas, a man known for his scandalous past engagement. With a dark grin and stormy eyes, he threatens to make her forget her duty, along with her manners.

Bound together by the mysterious diamond, Madeline and Colin soon succumb to the passion raging between them, even as the diamond eludes their grasp. But the true threat lies in the hands of an enemy whose dangerous obsession with the past has the power to destroy them both.

Priceless Deception available at The Wild Rose Press.
Visit Jennifer online at JenniferAnnCoffeen.com, and www.facebook.com/JenniferAnnCoffeen.

21 comments:

Sandra Bunino said...

I'm currently in the same boat, finishing #s 2 & 3. Thanks for the wise words of advice! Much luck to you.

Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

Sandra- that's another helpful tip for writing jitters, working on more than one novel at a time!

Jan Romes said...

Thanks so much for the blogpost! Very interesting! And I have to say that no matter where an author is in their career, the jitters remain from book to book (oh wait, maybe it's just me...ha ha)!

Jan Romes said...

Thanks so much for the blogpost! Very interesting! And I have to say that no matter where an author is in their career, the jitters remain from book to book (oh wait, maybe it's just me...ha ha)!

Vonnie Davis said...

I'd no sooner signed the contract for book #1 when Ms Self Doubt knocked on my door and barged in carrying a 3-piece set of luggage. "Oh, Darling," she purred, "you know that was the only book you had in you. Still, one is better than one, isn't it?"

I started another book right away out of spite--or fear. It was a mess. Ditched it and calmed down, took a deep breath and planned a trilogy. In between each book, I write one or two shorts (novellas) which are a nice refreshing break.

Mona Risk said...

I think we improve with every book we write. So we should be more confident.I can never work on two books at a time because I go so deep into my characters that I carry them in my head all the time. I always think about the latest or the next scene while driving, cooking, walking, cleaning--sorry not cleaning I stopped doing that eons ago. LOL

Jannine Gallant said...

I don't know if the doubt ever goes away. I think to myself, well they liked my suspense books, but what if they hate the historicals? Or, is this plot just a little too unbelievable? Self doubt means you're stretching and growing as a writer. Keep it up!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Great post, Jennifer. Self-doubt is a creativity killer, so I operate under the 'ignorance is bliss' model of writing. The voices in my head don't give a rat's patootie what others think of their antics, so I don't either. ;-)

Joanne Stewart said...

Thank you for this post. I needed it today. Self doubt is something I'm currently trying to squelch. I'm currently writing book...five I think it is. I've only got two published so far, one I only just contracted a few months ago. Two are with agent, one of which is getting rejected left and right. Every rejection is another kick to the self esteem and the doubt monster on my shoulder laughs at me. Because every time I get one, I wonder, "do I really know what the heck I'm doing?" So now that I'm knee deep in another book, I'm trying to remember that feeling, writing free, writing the book *I* want to write. And praying that somewhere along the lines, someone will love it.

I'm with Mona though. I can't write more than one project at a time. To use her words, I just get too deep into the story, into the characters. It's like an obsession for me. So I use reading as my escape. I read things completely out of my genre.

Sounds

Joanne Stewart said...

*blush* Pardon my snaffu there. I forgot to read it over before I hit send.

Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

Thanks for the amazing comments everyone! It's so exciting to hear how differently we all deal with "Ms. Self- Doubt" (I'm stealing that Vonnie-I love it!)

I just keep thinking that I had doubts with the first novel and I finished that so I must be able to write another. Now if only I had more time...but that is a different post.

Nancy Jardine said...

I'm not sure where I'm at regarding novel 2. My first completed was/is a historical still out there looking for a publisher. Then came the contemporary TWRP published last Aug. (Yipee! but different genre so is that 1 or 2?) After that I wrote a novel for children (thought it was getting published, but after months of this and that found it to be a vanity press-now no deal)So then I wrote my 2nd contemp. TAKE ME NOW soon to be published by TWRP (that is novel 2 of that genre!!) I've now finished contemp. 3 but it's a romantic suspense(does that qualify as 3?)
If I sound mixed up ...probably because I am.

Isabella Macotte said...

Great blog! I'm currently in the same place. Finishing the second, while planning the third and fourth. I remind myself to keep my writing in perspective and fun. Otherwise the jitters and stress can take over.

Judy Nickles/Gwyneth Greer said...

Infamous? Dark grin? Stormy eyes? Be still, my beating heart! Sounds like quite a story!!

In my third book, I blushed when doing the first edits with editor and was going to cut the single "hot" love scene...she nixed that...and, of course, she was right...it was barely lukewarm, but I am old...

Thanks for lots to think about!

Katherine said...

Jennifer, I'm currently finishing revisions on my 2nd full length novel and am finding myself questioning everything from the plot to word choice to point of view. It's good to know I'm not the only writer out there suffering "it it good enough"-itis.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Jennifer! Thanks for being my guest today. A wonderful subject, especially consider I haven't written in months. I read stuff I have printed and think, wow, I wrote that? Cool.

Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

Thanks for hosting me Anna Kathryn! I had a great time and learned a lot about writer's and their process. Keep writing everyone!!

Sigal Tzoore said...

Thanks for the advice and encouragement Jennifer! I've been working on my second novel while trying to find an agent for the first, and I feel so lost! I can't remember how I did it the first time, how to write an outline or when to make chapter breaks or anything.
I would have thought it would be so much easier....
One of the things I did to keep writing is to start my own blog. I've been writing posts five times a week for the past four months and I love it. I find it easier some days to write a short, enclosed post than to struggle with a full-length novel.

marybelle said...

A great post, I particularly loved the point about the second grade teacher. I had a laugh.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Dana Michelle Burnett said...

I'm in the process of editing Book#2 of my paranormal romance series and outlining book#3. I'm actually having more stress with this one fearing that I will let the readers down that loved Book #1.

Maggie Toussaint said...

I get next-book jitters too. That same stare-off-the-cliff feeling that it couldn't possibly measure up, that I'm a one-hit wonder, etc. But I work through that by setting modest goals each day. Little by little the new book unfolds and I begin to feel that I don't have my dress tucked into my underwear. Best of luck with all your writing endeavors.

Maggie
another TWRP author