I want to write about an unpopular subject in the writing world…..starting. After you have the first book under your belt, you sit back, try to relax and wait for the next amazing idea to hit you. But before that happens, I won’t lie….it’s murder.
I still treat every manuscript the same way I did with the first. I don’t open the Word document and stare at a blank page. No way. That would make me insane. And I don’t start in the beginning, either. I realize that might make you insane. But I couldn’t, and still can’t, force what won’t come.
You see, I’ve been a writer my whole life. Oh, yes, I’ve written notes, and checks and To-Do lists. I’ve written addresses and reminders and hate mail to the cable company. I’d even written short little tales for my kids. What I had never done was write a novel. I knew I had one in me, and back then I could only think as far as that one. Then one day my four year old daughter announced she wanted to marry Edward the Vampire. Really? A cold-as-ice interloper with abandonment issues? Hell, no, that was not going to happen. I decided I needed to give her a role model who was a real man, someone I would be proud if she brought him home. Someone with heart and valor and courage. I jotted a few words down, then a couple sentences, and soon, several paragraphs.
As I was enjoying shaping my characters and world-building, I suddenly realized…..OMG, I was writing a novel! The very idea scared me so much that I closed the computer and didn’t open it again for two weeks. The laptop sat on the couch, blinking it’s lights at me in an accusatory manner. I would glance at it, longing to be drawn to it, but never quite feeling the pull.
I turned to the one person in my life who would know what to do. My mum. Not a fellow writer, an editor, or even my husband, patient as he tried to be with my dark looks across the living room at an innocent piece of technology. “You’re not writing tonight?” he would ask. “No.” I would snap, closing the door on further conversation. I was confounded, stymied, misunderstood. What was the problem? What could help?
My mum knew. I asked her over the phone if “it” had left me. The elusive urge to create, the need to divine, the absolute requirement to spill my imaginary worlds onto my laptop keyboard. I could hear her laugh over the phone. “You always do this,” she said. “You get overwhelmed by the task. Just do the next thing on the list.”
She was right, of course. I always over think things. It’s the curse of the perfectionist, the detailed, the
life-long list-maker. And I’m a Scorpio, just to complicate matters. But my mummy’s words rang a bell of understanding, of acceptance, even of empowerment. Damn right! I was the writer and I would not let a little story take me down. I hung up the phone and marched into the living room. I flipped up the laptop and told it, “Okay, then. Bring it!” It took me only six weeks after that to finish my book.
Next time you are facing the same situation, don’t go as long as I did. When Mum gave me the key to continue writing, I did. I wrote one chapter at a time. I set tiny, easy goals for myself. Write one chapter. Write 500 words. Write 500 words that aren’t edited all to hell the next day. And one more goal….never force myself. And I always think of the next scene, the next chapter, the next book, in the exact same way. Just the next thing on the list.
BIO: Samantha Combs writes YA and MG and currently has four books available. Her first, Spellbound, a YA paranormal fantasy, has won the Global Ebook Award for Speculative Fiction-Fantasy. The follow-up, Book Two, called Everspell, released in January. There will be a third. She has another YA paranormal called Ghostly and a self-published horror anthology entitled Teeth and Talons. Two more books are scheduled for release in 2012, The Detention Demon, a Middle Grade horror, and Waterdancer, a YA fantasy. She is a proud author for Astraea Press and Musa Publishing.
Samantha loves to connect with new and aspiring writers and authors. Please visit her blog at www.samanthacombswrites.blogspot.com or her facebook page www.facebook.com/AuthorSamanthaCombs.