Endings – and new beginnings!

I’m between projects right now. I just finished the second manuscript in a two book series that, together, I have spent several years on. Keep in mind that the first manuscript was my ‘learning’ piece, and it has been revised so many times I’ve lost count! But the second book didn’t take nearly as long, and thanks to my critique group’s input along the way, didn’t require as much revision.
But for the first time in a long time, I don’t have a work in progress. Typing the words The End was exhilarating…and terrifying. I feel like close friends have moved away. Don’t get me wrong – it’s time, and the characters are off to have a wonderful life. But I’m sort of…unfocused, and a teensy bit nervous. What if I don’t have another story in me?!
So this has turned into a journey of faith for me, one I’m sure I don’t experience in isolation, though it feels that way. I must trust my creative nature to generate an idea for the next book (and I gotta say, I hope it generates really soon!)
What do you do when you’re between projects? What is your process for mining ideas and gathering the raw materials that will become your new story? How do you reinvigorate your creative self, refill your creative well?

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11 Responses to Endings – and new beginnings!

  1. Pamela L. says:

    Congratulations on your new blog! My stories almost always start out as “what if” and grow from research. I keep ideas, excerpts, etc. in a file on my computer, and I’ll often work on two or more projects at a time. But I also like to take photographs, draw, paint and work on videos as other creative outlets.

    Happy Writing! 🙂

  2. Thanks, Pam! I plan to do some collages this time – Caroline Fyffe nudged me in that direction at our writing retreat a month or so ago, and it unlocked something in the creative side of my brain. It sounds like we approach our writing in similar fashions. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. caroline says:

    Hi Leslie,

    Great to know you’re working with the collages. I feel they really help to get my creative ideas flowing. When starting a new story I usually just have a character and time in mind, and then build from there. Except for TEXAS TWILIGHT, since that was book two of a series-it all ready had the foundation, which was so nice! And, for some strange reason, I seem to always start in my hero’s POV. I don’t know why that is…LOL

    Great blog. Keep up the good work!


    Hi Pam! 🙂

  4. Hey, Caroline, nice to hear from you! I like collages (and other visual/tactile art media) because it’s so different from words – and yet evokes fresh concepts or twists on existing ideas. I also like the freehand writing of morning pages (The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron) as a way to bypass the infernal internal editor and connect with some level of consciousness that I don’t access on a regular basis during the day. Even getting oustide for a walk will spark creativity. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Sarah Yates says:

    Congratulations on your blogsite, Leslie! When I’m between projects, I work on my commonplace book, trying to fill it up with interesting stuff…snips of overheard conversation; a clipped flower from my neighbor’s yard; a cartoon; the first line of 10 books I love…just anything. I’ve always thought there are only 2 things that make a writer–the fact that she sits down and writes, and the way she looks at the world. Being between projects is a great way to soak up the details of life we often ignore…

    • Great point, Sarah! I guess that’s what I’ve been doing, albeit unconciously. 🙂 Last time I was between projects I got anxious; this time I’m not. Much, anyway! I’m pretty busy with revisions and queries, so I’m definitely not doing nothing!

      I’m interested in your ‘commonplace book’. Is it like an expanded ‘idea file’? I have a manuscript that no one will likely ever see, that I visit and add to when I’m stressed or stuck with my current work in progress. Sounds like a good time to sit down with it…

      By the way, your presentation on charettes (a form of brainstorming) will be part of my new process when I settle on an idea for my next work!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Hi Leslie! Great post!

    I watch television or movies. I read outside of my genre. Really–I watch reality television. Nothing gets my creative “what if” juices going.

    • Interesting, Katie! I, too, read outside my genre – and I find a lot of ideas by reading the newspaper. You know, those ideas that everyone says ‘that wouldn’t happen in real life’! I’m going to use my notes from your presentation, too, on how to create conflict that ups the ante for the characters.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  7. Hilda says:

    Hi Leslie.

    Congratulations on finishing your juicy story! 🙂

    Well, when I finish a story, I usually take a break before thinking up a new one and begin the brainstorming process.

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      Thanks, Hilda! Although I’m not sure I’d characterize my story as ‘juicy’… 😉 I’m glad to report that I do have a new story in the works. I heard an interview of a musician on the radio the other day. He likened his creative process to music, and pointed out that there are rests between notes in music. That’s another way to look at our time between projects – as rests!

      Thanks for stopping by my site!

      • Hilda says:

        You’re welcome! 😀

        That’s a good point. And you started a new story? That is so exciting! I wish you the very best and enjoy the creative process.

        My pleasure. I enjoyed visiting your blog. 🙂

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