I’ve been working pretty much non-stop the past few weeks, trying to get my next novel finished. I’m not done yet, and I’ve got lots left to write, but sometimes it’s good to take a step back.
I’ve spent the past couple of days brainstorming and planning and outlining, which does not come naturally to me. I envy writers who can create outlines and plan out entire stories, and then zoom through the writing process, having already done so much of the work ahead of time. I can’t do that, even though I try and try and try again.
In the past, I’d sit at my computer and go, “Eh, I have no idea what comes next, but here I am typing anyway.” And words would pour out, and that’s how I wrote A&V, and the first few chapters of Rayne, and the entirety of TBSOL v1 and v2. And this method worked. It usually got me from point A to point B and from Chapter One to The End. But the finished product never felt like The Best I Could Do.
And that’s how I ended up with three drafts of the same book.
With TBSOL FV, I’ve done things a bit differently. I have outlined a lot, but usually only one chapter at a time. If I try to do more than one chapter at a time, I end up having to do things over anyway. If I don’t outline and just start writing, I usually have to end up rewriting anyway.
Back when I said, “So, I’m rewriting TBSOL for the third time…” I honestly thought that’s when I’d lose 95% of my readership. Who would want to sit around and wait to read the same book for the third time?
A lot of people, it turns out. I expected them to flee, and instead they said, “I can’t wait to read it!”
Really? The same book? For the third time?
Not only did people not rush for the exit doors, many of them were so impatient to read it, that they volunteered to help me write it. My beta team is currently composed of 107 people, most of whom are strangers, and I’ve been limiting the number of people I let in by a lot.
I’m not going to lie. Having 107 people in the role of critique partners, reading my novel as I go and telling me what they think is terrifying. Especially when I’m hoping to improve upon a novel that most of them have already read twice.
My biggest challenge has been figuring out how to do this all over again without disappointing a group of people who have already come to love the book as it was. It’s a daily struggle because people’s expectations, or what I perceive these expectations to be, has always affected my creative process. I could have written this book in private, and shared none of it with anyone until it was finished, and maybe I’d be done with it by now. But this method is way harder and way scarier, and feels a lot more rewarding as a result.
I have no idea if TBSOL FV will better than v1 or v2 or if people will love it more or less or about the same. I don’t know if it will sell well, get good reviews, or earn any awards.
What I do know is that pushing through fear is the hardest part of doing anything that forces you to put yourself out there. Creating is hard, but sharing what you’ve created is the true challenge. But that’s why it matters. That’s why we have to do it anyway.
I don’t write because I’m good at it, or because it comes easily to me. I don’t share what I’ve written because I think it’s so amazing and everyone should read it. I do it because it scares me. I do it because it’s difficult. I do it because I don’t want fear to stop me from doing what I love. And I don’t want fear to stop anyone else from doing what they love, or what they think they might love.
It’s been a weird week for me. I’ve had to remind myself of things that I already knew, and was already doing, but still momentarily forgot.
I’m anxious to finish the book. And my publisher is anxious to publish it. And people are anxious to read it. And I think that all of this combined excitement and impatience seeped into my brain and made me forget that there’s a method to my madness – even if it’s a very slow method. But I’m back on track again.
Yesterday, my whiteboard looked like this:
Today it looks like this:
I think I’ve got it figured out.