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April 18, 2013 / Angela Sylvia

Writing Problems: I Can’t Focus

So I’ve queried off my manuscript, which means I’m going to abstain from poking and prodding the story, at least until I start to actually hear back from people. That leaves me with a dilemma: what do I do in the meantime?

061206_lmb_a_01The obvious answer to that is: WRITE. But what, exactly, should I write? I already write reviews, and without the hours of editing everyday I have more time to dedicate to that. But that’s still not enough to fill in the gaps. I have old work I’ve been wanting to fix up, a couple of novels that got shelved since I couldn’t think of how to make them better at the time. I’ve tried a rewrite on one of them, but I haven’t been able to get myself to sit and work on it for quite as long as I ever did with my submitted piece. This novel is something I wrote a little as an experiment, and now every time I go back to look at it I keep getting the sinking feeling that redoing it is a bit of a waste of time. I worry about that with the other novel, too, that I just don’t know how to go back and completely fix something like that.

The next logical thing would be to just start something new. I have a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head, but nothing that’s too super concrete, and all I’ve done so far for either of them is scribble notes on scraps of paper I may or may not have lost. It’s not like anything else I’ve ever worked on has started with more than that, but it’s literally been years since I started a new LONG project that, honestly, I’m a little nervous to dive right in.

There are also essays, poems, and even short stories I could fix up or attempt to start, and I could try sending some of these finished shorter pieces out to magazines. I could do all of those things. But I can’t seem to focus on one for very long. It’s not that I want to write — sometimes I’m squirming with the need — but I don’t know WHAT to write, and I wind up jumping around from thing to thing. It’s like I’m stumbling around in a cave, feeling out the different paths: without that faint light at the end of one of the tunnels, I don’t know which way to go. Guess I just have to grab onto something and go with it, and see how far it takes me.

Or, I’ll just let my new knitting hobby take over my life.

What do you do when you finish a project? How do you know what to start next?

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