From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, August 6, 2012

Moving on to the Next Project is...Hard.

Being done with a major project is a new thing for me. I've written lots of short stories, started more novels than I care to count, but actually finishing one that I want to put out into the world isn't something I have experienced until now. 

I've basically done what I can do on The Keeper. I've edited, given it to readers, edited again, more readers, edited some more. It's ready for the submission stage now, and I've even sent off a couple query letters. Now that I'm starting down the submission path for this novel, the next step is to start the next big project. I understand that, the point is to keep creating. Can't put all my eggs in one basket; who knows what's going to happen with The Keeper, right? I know all this, but I'm having a much more difficult time moving on than I expected.

There are three reasons I think I'm having trouble:

First, I still don't feel complete with The Keeper. It's not published yet, not a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times bestseller yet, so I can't help the feeling that I still have more to do. But really all I can do is query, and sitting around refreshing my email isn't helping me make progress or making things go any faster.

Second, life has just been crazy. Family changes, work and money stress, friends moving, just lots of things making life very unstable. You know all this, I've talked about it plenty. There are some big things coming up that I'm not going to talk about yet that hopefully mean I'm going to feel much more stable, so that's good, but I'm also not big on excuses, and feel upset at myself for not making good writing progress no matter the work/family/friend/money/life situation.

Third and lastly, and this one I find interesting, I just can't seem to decide where to commit myself next. I've got several ideas floating around. I've got the first chapter of a YA novel, some stories I'd love to build up into a collection, a screenplay idea. All the projects interest me, and I want to do them all eventually, but I can't decide what to do first. Also, this indecision combined with the feeling of instability is totally making me feel like I'm not in a position to commit to anything yet anyway. Again the frustration with myself: in about a month or two I will feel more stable, but I shouldn't be waiting for that or using anything as an excuse either.

So basically I'm in this position of wanting to move on and not quite knowing how to do it. Do I just wait it out, give myself a break, or try and force it through? If a break, what do I do in the meantime?

Sarah Allen


  1. When it was time for me to move on, I kinda had the same problem. I had two ideas floating around but didn't know which to pick. So I just started writing one of them. As I was writing I realized I really wanted to be writing the other. So my suggestion, I guess, is just to choose one and see where you are from there. If your heart isn't in it, you'll be able to tell pretty quickly and then you can switch gears from there. Best of luck!

  2. I totally agree with Steph. When I 'finished' my last one (and it's still not done, but I need to put it aside for a while) it took no less than four starts and stops to finally land on a keeper. Just make yourself write and you'll figure it out. Don't let your head get in the way.

  3. A break sounds like precisely what you need. In the mean time, have you considered focusing on short form writing (short stories and novellas)?

    I remember you said something about putting together a short story collection a while back, and I still have fond memories of your short story, Gabby. :)

  4. i would take a break---i could leave you refreshed and excited again :)

  5. I say take a break, get your mind off things. Go for a walk, go to a museum, do something different. And if you want, mull over your ideas a bit. See if something excites you. Good luck!

  6. It's always hard when you have been working on something for so long, to let go of it once it is finished. It becomes such a huge part of your life. Once you have completed it, it lingers and you are unsure of exactly what to do next. It's a scary time, but I know that you are going to use that feeling to channel yourself into another project.

  7. Sorry I have no words of wisdom to offer, Sarah. I'm fortunate in that my "next project" is the sequel. However, that presents its own challenges too that I never expected.

    Jen & Steph may have the advice you need. At least it makes sense to me. Good luck!

  8. I can completely sympathize about being somewhat "lost" after finishing a long term project.

    Took me quite a while to figure out what I wanted to do next for a writing project. Until that next project came along (after a couple of false starts) I kept occupied by writing a bunch of posts for my blog.

  9. Thanks for the kind words about my my poem. Very nice blog you have here.

  10. Sometimes I feel like my novel is a baby, and I don't want to finish it because that means it will grow up and fly away! Crazy, I know. So best of luck in your submission process, and wishing you much success!

  11. I would move on to the next project. You can reward yourself for completing the novel, but finding it a home may take considerable time. Many authors have been asked "Do you have anything else." when they get the first nibbles.

  12. I completely understand. It takes me a long time after the completion of one project to move on to another - I'm talking months, rather than days or weeks. It's like I've completely exhausted my store of creativity and have to replenish.

    I have no advice, though, because I know it's a rubbish way to further my career!


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