Everyone talks about writing “the book.” No one talks about the sequel. (Tweet this)
No one talks about the new pressure of readers demanding resolution, or of the publisher’s deadlines you thought you could handle, or of how you’re suddenly asking yourself, “Why in the world did I create that character?” or how now you spend half your time marketing with about 1/8 of the amount of time left for building new writing habits.
Well, here I am, to talk about it. Because I did it…and lived
within an inch of my life!
Writing A Time to Speak was hard, people! About every other week I was certain it was the worst book I’d ever written in my life. My support team of authors and editors pep-talked me out of my little mope-corner. Now it releases in a week and a half!
*panics* *dies* Yay!
I’ve survived the one and only time I had to write a sequel I’m an expert on writing sequels, 😉 here are some difficulties I encountered and some advice I have on how to survive them. 😉 And it’s a little glimpse into my process.
1. Wanting to change your first book.
Book one is published — or on its way to being published — and you suddenly realize that Prince Villainfire should actually be a good guy, but it’s too late, because he killed your protagonist’s puppies in book one. That will make turning him into a good guy in book two very hard (unless he only pretended to kill the puppies and has now been raising them in secret in his home as his personal buddies.)
This happened a lot with A Time to Speak. (No, not Prince Villainfire-and-his-puppies.) I invented characters I had no idea what to do with. I alluded to secret plot threads that I had never actually concluded in my mind.
What to do about it:
Suck it up. If book one is set in stone, there’s not much you can do about it. Spend days, weeks even, thinking through the problems you’ve created for yourself and find solutions. You have to. Make a list of all the possible solutions or options to solve that one problem. Then choose the best one. I found that, as long as I was praying over my work…somehow they worked themselves out. 🙂
2. Being under sudden deadlines. (Tweet this)
There’s no easy way to go about it. You have to buckle down and just write…more often. It’s easy for people to say, “Just cut non-essentials from your schedule!” (Um…have they seen my schedule? Full-time job here, people!) or “Just get up earlier!” (Sleep is essential! Can’t. Write. Without. Sleep.) or “Cut your Faebook time.” (But…This is the time for marketing and social media!)
I rearranged my work schedule. Thankfully, I have that luxury because I work at home so I can set my own schedule. Sometimes I had to turn Saturdays into work days. I learned how to write more. No, it wasn’t as good quality, but at least I got the skeleton of the story out.
Also…have a support team!
I have several writing friends, a couple of young readers, and some editors on my team. They not only pep-talk me through my phases of “This-novel-is-nothing-but-sludge!” but they also do these magical things called word wars with me. A word war can be done on chat – FB chat, Google plus chat. Even text! Here’s what it looks like:
- Katie Grace: Shall we write from :00 to :15?
- Me: YES!
- Katie Grace: GO!
- [15 minutes later]
- Katie Grace: STOP! I got 332 words. [shares her awesome last line]
- Me: I got…25. [Shares last line.]
We do this…all day if it’s a serious writing day. And you’ll be amazed at how quickly those 25 words add up. 😉 Not to mention, it’s fun sharing your last line. There is also a Facebook group that does something like this. I never would have finished the draft of my third book without word wars.
3. Getting sick of your book.
It’s like senioritis when you’re in school. You’re ready to be a senior. And when you’re a senior, you’re ready to graduate. Sometimes we just hate our books. It’s part of the process. And that’s okay. (Tweet this) The hard part is when we let ourselves just ditch it. (Especially when publishers are waiting for it.)
What to do about it:
If you have the time, then take time away! Go read books. Do the things that inspire you — binge-watch the Star Wars movies (originals, of course), get your favorite chai/tea/cofee/hot cocoa. Listen to your playlist. Read your favorite books. It’s okay to rely on other people’s creativity to stimulate your own.
4. Feeling like you can’t write. Ever. Again.
I feel this way 90% of the time when writing books. And I’m not alone. I have a feeling this will never change. It’s even scarier when people really like your first book, because now you know they have expectations for you. And if you’re a people-pleaser, the word “expectations” is like a guillotine sentence.
What to do about it:
Go back and read your first book. Seriously. You’ll be surprised at how well you write. [grin] Read your positive reviews. Re-read encouraging e-mails from friends, readers, etc. Call your pep-talk team!
It’s not easy to write a book, friend. It’s even harder to write a second one because you’ve learned so much since when you started your first! This is a calling and it’s your duty to persevere until God tells you to stop. The best possible course of action you can take when encountering these writing struggles is to pray. Commit it to God and He’ll give you the story you need to write.
What are some struggles you’ve seen in your writing?
What sequels have you read that were done well?