Through writing multiple novels, I always like to think that I figure out my writing system better each time. That each completed novel brings me closer to that perfect, streamlined system that will allow me to write five books a year (HA!). Unfortunately, that isn’t true at all. While yes, each novel teaches me something more about how I write best, best writing time, and whatnot, my end goal of the “perfect streamlined system” is pretty much unattainable.
If we can’t ever get it “right,” what exactly are we hoping for? These are three things that I think are important to realize about the writing process and how it changes.
Each book is a learning experience. I don’t mean learning about your characters, researching, history, and all the like. I mean it’s a learning experience for you, about how you write. Maybe writing in third person past tense just isn’t your thing. Maybe you really have to stop and analyze why you’ve hit a roadblock even when you have an outline to follow. Whatever it may be, each book is going to teach you something incredible. Don’t force yourself into a box you no longer fit in. With each novel, you’re growing and learning as a writer in ways that probably won’t be evident to you until later.
It will never go flawlessly. This has become frustratingly apparent to me as I struggle through “writer’s block” in my current story when it’s almost finished. I did everything right. I outlined, plotted, planned, got everything figured out. But the story just wasn’t flowing anymore. It took me awhile to realize that the issue was stemming from not having much story left to happen in my characters, but having a lot of events that still needed to take place. Even when you do things right, your process won’t be perfect.
The process changes over time. For one novel, you may write best early in the morning. For another, it might flow smoother in the evening. You may need to extensively outline one book, but another can be written with very little planning. Don’t fight it.
Whatever bump in the road you’re currently struggling with, just remember that there is no right or wrong way to write a book. There isn’t even a right or wrong way for you, personally. As each book grows and changes you, let your writing process morph and change. Be nice to yourself.
What’s something in your writing process that has recently changed?