Taking it to the next level - Trish Doller

Recently I've found myself feeling restless about my writing. I think I've improved since my first (unpublished) attempt and maybe even since I started THE NEW NORMAL. At least I hope so! Lately, though, I've read some books that made me feel like I had something alive inside me that was trying to scratch its way out. Something that makes me want to be BETTER.

I've looked into residencies at writer's retreats and colonies, but the application process...it scares the hell out of me! Letters of intent? 10 sample pages? That feels a whole lot like the querying process and the potential for REJECTION. But I'm still thinking about it.

My critique partner suggested gathering up a bunch of books that would set the mood for what I want to accomplish, then go somewhere quiet for a long weekend and just write. That certainly seems a lot less intimidating than a workshop (and a lot cheaper!). But in this scenario, I'm alone and without guidance should I hit a sticking point.

Then there's the whole idea that if I sell my second book proposal--rather than the full manuscript--I could get editorial guidance from my trusted, beloved editor while I finish the book. If, you know, my publisher opts to buy my second book on proposal. Or at all. Which is a whole other ball of insecurity, really.

So, I guess what I'm wondering is if any of you--YAOTL'ers or readers who write--have felt like you needed to stretch your literary wings, and how you went about doing it.

Please share in the comments!


  1. I think your critique partner is onto something here. Since I've been spending more time reading the kinds of books I write, my writing has become a whole lot stronger.

  2. I guess what strikes me is that there is no right way to get to that "place" where you're in the flow and your writing is getting stronger. For some, an academic/program setting provides the spark; for others, it's a more private thing. And they may switch, depending on the day or mood!

  3. I was very comfortable writing nonfiction--starting to write fiction felt like diving into a deep pool and having no idea how far I'd have to go down before I'd surface again. But since it's been a long time dream, I took the plunge and am happy that I did! Now, here's hoping that I can make an editor happy with my story too...but that's another story.

  4. I understand, entirely! I've done weekend retreats - like the VCFA novel writer's retreat - and I've found it to be very inspiring. But I'm still struggling with getting better - making my book not just better than it was before, but good enough to compete with what's out there. A daunting process. Reading a bunch of comparable books might be a good way to start. And maybe try to schedule a writing weekend or day with your critique partner?

  5. I hear ya, Trish! And I love your critique partner's idea and may be doing something like that soon. But I also try to get away with my critique partner or with writing friends. I just find a place to rent cheap. Last summer I went with my CP and my mom who just wanted a quiet place to read. She read during the day, my CP and I wrote and did workshops togethter and at night we drank wine and watched Gilmore Girls. It was pretty awesome.


Post a Comment