From initial conception to publication, my first novel took almost 7 years to write. Granted, there were months – years even, that I didn’t work on it at all. But I can safely say that in 7 years I learned a lot about how to write, and how not to write, a book.
It’s okay to lose your pants.
I’m a pantser, not a plotter. Meaning I write by the seat of my pants. I don’t outline, plan, or structure. I let the creative process guide me. I let the story tell me where it wants to go.
But there were many times those pants went missing. I couldn’t find a single thread to write by, much less an entire seat! I was utterly naked, vulnerable, and lost. I had no idea where I was heading. I wailed unto the Universe in abject agony. How could you desert me oh, muse? (Or, um, pants?) I knew I’d never find my direction again. It had all been for nothing.
Needless to say, I always, eventually, found my pants. Usually when I wasn’t looking for them.
It’s okay to lose your pants, your direction, and your inspiration. It happens. You might as well accept it. I did (finally.) And because of that, my second book is proving far less traumatic to write.
Don’t edit while writing.
Justin McLachlan says “Trying to edit while writing is like trying to chop down a tree while you’re climbing it.” It’s true. This is why I was stuck in that damn tree for over 7 years! Now, if you are utterly pants-less and devoid of all direction, I think it’s okay to go back and do a little editing. Sometimes it triggered ideas for me. But editing constantly as you write is a big mistake.
Perfectionism is not your friend. Self-compassion is.
Should you have your work professionally proof-read and edited? Absolutely. Should you receive feedback before release? Definitely. Should you constantly compare yourself to your favorite, famous authors? Probably not. Should you write and edit, write and edit, until your book is 100% perfect? No. Because it will never be perfect. At some point you simply have to know that you created something wonderful that you are proud of, and let your baby out into the world. You’ll never reach that point if you demand perfection.
If you’re anything like me you can be extremely hard on yourself. The process of writing a novel is HARD. Give yourself some credit and be kind to yourself. I had such a difficult time doing that with my first book.
Writing a novel takes immense faith.
It takes guts, it takes dedication, and it takes a lot of time. But I believe, more than anything, writing a novel takes faith. I knew deep in my heart that this book would be written and I trusted the creative process – even when I was pants-less. Even when I was wailing in abject agony to the Universe, a small part of me knew it would be okay. Nurture and cultivate that part. You must truly believe in your story and the fact that the idea was given to you for a reason. The world needs your book. Have faith that the words will come.
I should have started building my author platform sooner.
I didn’t know how to do it and I didn’t feel worthy enough. I wish I’d found this amazing site sooner: Your Writer Platform Get moving on that, no matter what stage of writing you’re at. Struggling to find readers after your book is published is no-fun.
So there it is. I may do a second post on this topic, as there’s more I’d like to share. Is there anything in particular you’d like me to address?
If you’ve already written and published your first novel, what did you learn?