Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, March 15, 2008

How Do You Start Over?

by Sariah S. Wilson

I think it's a question that many writers struggle with. I know that you all are of course much better than I am, and don't let too much time lapse without writing. But a fair amount of time has passed since I sat down to write a book.

I find self-doubt creeping in. Can I really do this again? How did I manage it the first three times? I know better. My mind says, you know where self-doubt comes from. People ask me why I write for the LDS market. I do hope someday to write nationally, but I hope to continue to write for my LDS publisher as well. Why? Well, part of it was a promise made to me in a blessing. I hope to be able to do some good, to maybe help someone escape their burdens for a couple of hours. So I know who wants me to doubt myself. But that doesn't make the doubt go away.

But I'm finding it really hard to overcome. I'm finding it hard to begin. I know that part of that is because I am something of a perfectionist. I want every word to be right from the beginning. I hate massive revising. I don't do it. If you compared my first draft with the final novel, I think you wouldn't find that many differences. So if I don't know exactly what I'm going to do, it is hard for me to start.

I also find that a baby sort of sucks all my creative energy from me. I care for her all day, she goes to bed, and I spend the rest of the time with my husband and my children and doing the things I couldn't do while she was awake. And if I'm able to find some time for myself, all the better. It's hard to imagine doing one more thing. Particularly since it is something now that is my job. I no longer do it just for me. Now there are expectations and an editor waiting. It puts a whole new pressure on you. I keep thinking this particular aspect will improve, but she's nearly ten months old now.

I'm also in a position that many other authors are in - there's too many ideas. There are too many books, too many possibilities. And as you try to carve out a career for yourself, you have to decide if *this* is the book you want to write because that is the type of book you will be writing for a long time. This is a little different in the LDS market, but if I want to write something not LDS, then this is a serious decision that has to be made. So instead of just making it, I find myself waffling back and forth.

I feel like I'm standing on top of a precipice. I've made this leap at least three times before. I know what it feels like, what will happen when I reach the end. It's just difficult right now to conceive of stepping off the edge.

My question then to you is, have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you cope? What decisions did you make? What helped you press on to take that leap? How do you start all over again? And does this feeling ever go away?


At 3/16/2008 1:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every day. Each blank page is filled with doubts. Seems like you just filled a page and then bam, another blank one is staring you down. And don't even mention the new chapters. Those are terrifying. A new novel? Well you can just count your monster's in the closet on that number. Maybe it has to do with growing up. Kids don't calculate the cost/benefit ratio of anything. We adults stress over every minute spend writing an adventure novel is one more minute not spent writing that historical. Maybe we should stop calculating so much.

There are three things that should lift your spirits and scream YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN. Three published novels. You can do it again Sariah. And we will all enjoy reading it for sure.

David G. Woolley

At 3/16/2008 9:21 AM, Anonymous Live through Words said...

Sariah hi,
This is my very first visit to your blog. I got here by a search on tips for writing, read your piece and can't stop wondering, (maybe because I'm new at this) Why don't you write short stories and publish the online on publishing networks (and I don't mean blogs)just for the informative purpose of maybe finding out what people today think of your writing. (I definitely don't doubt you after 3 books!) You don't even need to write a full story, you can try a scribble up a chapter and submit it as one too. Once thats done I'm positive that you will get loads of comments on it, or even change the whole concept according to a good idea from a comment. There are alot of sites that that publish for free, expose your work, and even generate earnings according to your page views. In short, like I said before, I'm new to the writing business, but I'm sure you can at least find some great ideas from reading around, if not experimenting with writing a little here and there. I would be glade to name a few sites that do what I have mentioned above if you would like, just comment back to let me know. Whatever happens Sariah I wish you the best of luck on your new book.
P.S. I like taking public transportation in the middle of the day for gathering ideas, you never know what your mind can whip-up when you are sitting in the bus with all that noise and people. Works for me.

At 3/16/2008 11:14 PM, Blogger J Scott Savage said...


For me, the thing is to never make it a job. It doesn't matter if you have deadlines and paychecks, the minute writing becomes work, it loses the joy that brought you to it in the first place. Maybe you need to give yourself permission to write something fun without worrying about how many copies it will sell.

At 3/17/2008 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Isn't worrying about how many copies it will sell the fun part?

David Woolley

At 3/17/2008 5:26 AM, Anonymous live through words said...

Good morning Sariah,
I completely agree with you. You shouldn't treat writing as a job, it's a passion. Where I come from we have a saying, "Throw yourself into the water", it means go for it. What I'm saying is that when I mentioned before that you can write online, do it for the passionate part of you that just wants to write, spread your work and inspire people with it. And hey, if you make a few dollars from it, it will just show you how many people are reading your work. It's not one of those sell you soul scams, its pretty fun, I wrote a few articles, some more successful than others but I learned alot from what I saw there. I'd like you to check out one of my favorite publishing sites, its called, check it out, its obviously free. Submit something original of your own and see what happens, I'm sure you'll love but be ware its addictive! If you want, you can look up my profile, it's ron82. If you still look at it as job, them just don't check your income on the site and simply write for the sake of writing!


At 3/17/2008 10:23 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I read this yesterday and have been thinking about it since. Frankly, I have no advice to give. I don't even want to admit to being in the doldrums -- and for so long -- because it might cause you to despair even more. :)

But just now I was browsing my personal database of writers quotations and came upon this by Agatha Christie:

"There's no agony like getting started. You sit in a room, biting pencils, looking at a typewriter, walking about, or casting yourself down on a sofa, feeling you want to cry your head off."

I had to stop what I was doing and post it for you -- and for me. At least it's not a NEW dilemma for writers!

I'm sure you'll get up off that sofa in no time, sharpen a pencil, and turn out yet ANOTHER book to make both you and Bro. Whitney proud!

You can do it, Sariah. You're the best!

At 3/17/2008 12:26 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I think the self-doubt can serve a purpose -- to help us keep striving for something better in our writing -- but when it becomes overwhelming, it's time to call in the reinforcements. You've got a great fan base, Sariah, and that many readers can't be wrong! :)

At 3/17/2008 4:30 PM, Anonymous allyson condie said...

Sariah, I really appreciated this--I also have a new book to write and little ones to care for and am just completely out of steam at the end of the day. I wish I had some great advice to give you but I don't. The best I have is that I made myself take a two week break from it all and then I was more ready to go when I came back.

You're a great writer. Thanks for posting this.

At 3/18/2008 2:13 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Have I experienced this? Uh, yeah. Every time. For me the solution is something that might not work for you, if you write beginning to end. I jump into a middle scene and have a party writing it. Then I can back up or move forward in the story's chronology. The minute I sit down and think, "Here it begins," I choke.

At 3/19/2008 12:11 AM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

I'm still amazed when someone says "I enjoyed your book . . . I really liked this part . . ." It always intimidates me because I worry if I can keep writing, keep thinking, keep creating.


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