It’s Not Writer’s Block, It’s Fear

Fear is a four-letter word. I like four-letter words.

F*** is a four-letter word.

Writing a sequel is harder than it sounds. Or maybe it sounds as hard as it is. Yes, I know, “Silly newb, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. It was always this hard, you just drank the Kool-Aid too early.” But still. I know where the second book in my series is going. (Well, technically, there have been about three versions of where I thought the second book was going.) I’ve written two books now. The settings are already created. The characters already living entities. The conflicts are present and waiting. This book shouldn’t be this hard. And yet, it is.

Many people don’t believe in writer’s block. They know it for what it is: Fear. Fear of producing a lesser product. Fear of missing the magic of the first piece of work. Fear of going in the exact opposite direction from where everyone else was hoping you’d go. And then, *poof*. Curtain pulled back, magician exposed, the writer is seen for what she is: a one-hit wonder. This isn’t a mythical creation, this is some bimbo fumbling around in the dark trying to put one word after another to form a story that some people somewhere might actually want to read.

I’ve been paralyzed by this fear. Many times. It happens everywhere, and in every part of life, especially in the creative world. Musicians are said to suffer from the sophomore slumps, for they’ve had their whole lives to write their debut albums, and at most a couple of years to write the second. Painters can create a masterpiece on their first try, and then find their muse either takes them back to the same exact place where they created their first work (which often gains them the criticism of being unoriginal), or go off in a direction that alienates the initial fans. Creators try very hard to get things right on the first try, and generally they are successful because they’ve been working in a vacuum, free of input or expectation. Once it’s time to try it for the second time, every understanding of the creative process must be reevaluated.

This is my current struggle. The first Tick book pretty much wrote itself. Sure, I’ve edited the thing to death since then, but the first draft came out of me without having to think much of it. This time, I honestly expected it to be that easy. Or, I was hoping it would be that easy. I told myself that all I had to do was write the first draft, find the story, and work with what I had. But this time is different: there are pieces to connect from the first book, pieces to connect to the future third book. There are threads that must be resolved. Relationships that must evolve. New conflicts which must reflect the previous but also be fresh enough to not be redundant. And all of this must happen within the same general guidelines of the first book.

I’m still working out how to make this happen. I can feel it. The story is there, floating in the clouds, waiting for me to make a net big enough  to capture it. And then, I have to write the damn thing.

Have any of you come across this same struggle? What did you do to overcome the fear of the second book? Honestly, any advice is helpful.

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