Writers have a tough job. It’s no easy task to be working on your own, often for long stretches with little feedback, developing ideas, stories, plots, characters, and sometimes grasping at straws in the hope it will all come together into a cohesive whole.
I often talk at length with my fiction (and sometimes nonfiction) authors about their next books, whether they’ve been previously published or not. Should they stick to the same category? Try something new if a book hasn’t sold to a publisher, or if a first published book hasn’t succeeded in the marketplace? What about going from adult to children’s? That’s something a lot of authors are thinking about and doing these days, including several of my own. These conversations can be difficult or invigorating, and usually it’s a healthy combination of both. Sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of brainstorming to come up with the right answers. Sometimes these conversations need to happen between each and every book! Patience is an important part of this book development process.
The bottom line is, whatever that next idea may be, it has to come from the heart, and it has to be compelling and passionate to the writer from the beginning. It’s a tricky balancing act trying to write what you love and write for a fickle and unpredictable market, but the starting point has to be writing what makes you feel like writing and keeps you motivated to do so. Jim and Steph tackled aspects of this predicament this week to great response in their Why do you write? and I have no comment at this time.
My contribution to the conversation comes from a brief piece I found in Author that speaks to some of these conflicts that arise while crafting a book. It talks a bit about the benefits of starting with an outline, but that is difficult for many authors, so it goes on to suggest that the best thing a struggling writer can sometimes do is throw it away and start over if it’s not working. Hard advice to hear when you’ve spent so much time on a project, but there are some books that are just not meant to be. If the struggle is there from early on, listen to your instincts to put it aside and try something new. Perhaps you can pick it back up at a later date, or not. But don’t beat yourself up over wasted time or energy, or feeling like you’ll never be able to write another sentence again. It’s a process, an imperfect and sometimes long one, but that’s what makes it endlessly frustrating, and rewarding.
Share your thoughts with us on your favorite feeling of frustration or excitement during the writing process. We know there will be some good ones!