The problem with writing the first book in a series is that eventually, you have to write the second book. Especially as the best way to sell books is to write more books. When you would like your books to someday be your primary source of income so you don’t have to have quite so much of a day job (and therefore more time to write books), getting going is a good idea.
But I’ve had the hardest time doing that. And not just because it's hard to write when Lucy insists on "helping."
Initially, there was the quite understandable reveling in Having A Book Out and I spent a lot of time promoting the book on blog tours and the like. Whenever I talked about starting the next book, people who love me would do an intervention and tell me to enjoy Having a Book out. So I did.
Then I picked up another freelance gig at the start of last summer, fully knowing that this would take away any time I’d otherwise have to write the book. I was okay with that — by that time I’d realized I needed some non-book time and this exciting project was just what I needed.
And so it’s gone since then, one thing or another taking precedence over writing. They were all important, most of them something I had to do, some thrust upon me by various outside forces.
With one thing or another, although I do have an outline, I’ve actually only written 2 ½ chapters.
If I keep this up, the second book in the Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis series should come out somewhere around my 83rd birthday…
There are times when the itch to write is bad and I have hallucinations of disappearing for six months, holing up in a a cabin in the woods or by a lake with a dock or a house on the beach. They all have this in common: they are isolated and far away from other obligations. In these daydreams, I have weeks and months in front of me with no distractions and nothing to do but write and absorbing nature.
And there other times where I feel hopelessly overwhelmed with the thought of writing another 70,000 words. Where I look at my outline of 40 or so chapters and want to curl up in a ball at the thought of how much there is to do. I remember the last one. The last one was a massive project that took three years. And sure, I think I can write faster now (as long as I stop taking on other projects to distract me), but it’s still going to be a really long time doing a really big and hard thing.
I know the key is to narrow my focus, look only at one chapter at a time, but right now, I can only see the enormity of the task ahead lost in the forest, unable to see the individual trees. It’s feeding on itself, periods of procrastination interspersed with moments of looking at the book, only to whimper and slink off back into procrastination. Repeat ad nauseam.
I read this wonderful post by Kristen Lamb reminding me that sometimes, the quest for perfection can trip you up and maybe that’s what all of this is about. That I want each chapter to be perfect, to require less editing — perhaps even though editing? — so I can get to the point they aren’t finished writing and happy with my new baby. But it doesn’t happen that way, does it?
So. After reading Kristen’s post, I decided that the only way to get in the groove is to take a baby step every day. To go back to the beginning and write a paragraph or even just a sentence every day. To stop fretting over the 70,000 words that I haven’t yet written and start focusing on the 10 words I can write today.
Do you have any suggestions for getting off your arse and get going?