And Why Your Second Book Will Be Faster Again…
It took me two and a half years to write and revise my first book to get it to the point it was ready for readers. And then another 2 years to find my publisher and get it out into the world. My next book I wrote in 6 months. I now coach other writers, and I see this pattern of book 2 getting written much faster over and over again. Seems obvious, right?
Well, yes, but not for the reasons you may think. Sure, by your second book, you’ve honed your technique and have developed some (hopefully!) good writing habits. But that’s not it.
Writers’ blogs and forums are riddled with advice for you to write faster, everything from getting your word count in daily, to using templates or formulas to fill in your structure. And following this advice may indeed make writing your first draft faster. But your first draft isn’t the finished product, as much as you may want it to be.
The time between completing a draft and knowing that a manuscript is everything you’d hoped it would be is this murky space few writers talk about, where especially newer writers get lost, losing weeks, months, or years sitting in a doubtful limbo.
Writing a first draft is a huge accomplishment, don’t get me wrong. But you’ll know in your heart it isn’t ready for prime time. The idea of revisions can be daunting. Overwhelming, even.
When I found myself in this unexpected murky place when I was writing my first book more than a decade ago, I had questions like:
- I’m being told my book “isn’t ready” yet by agents, editors, and publishers. But how do I know what to work on? Should this be obvious to me?
- Some of my favorite writers write books in 3 months or faster. Why can’t I seem to do this?
- My gut is telling me I need to rip the whole book apart and then put it back together again to make it what I want. Do I REALLY have to do that?
- If my draft isn’t perfect, does this mean I don’t have what it takes to be a writer??
- Am I really good enough?
And so, I spun my wheels, and looked for answers. Everything I’d dreamed writing a book would be like was kinda shiny. In my ideal world, words would flow, and accolades would follow. None of the writers I followed glorified the thousands of hours it might take, the deep focus I’d have to learn, or the number of times I might have to tweak my scenes until I got all my ideas on the page the way I wanted them.
I chipped away at what I knew in my heart needed to get done, piece by piece, because I was determined that my book wouldn’t see the light of day until it was ready. The only way to get my messy first draft in shape was to push through, and do the work, as much as I wanted to find a shortcut. I honed my craft. I took courses and workshops. I sought out the best editors I could find, and learned. I was, and still am, immensely proud of that book, which went on to sell thousands of copies and win awards. Most importantly, I heard from my tween and teen readers that the book affected them. That they shared it with their friends. That’s all I ever wanted.
When I sat down to write Book 2 in that series, I assumed it would be much faster. After all, I’d already created the world and its characters. It was going to be a breeze.
But I was wrong.
Because I’d already created the world and its characters, I found I needed much more content for Book 2 than I expected. Huh. So, how did I still write that book muuuuuch faster? This is the secret sauce I wish every first time author could know… and I’ve since dedicated my book coaching practice to help writers get through that murky middle time.
By the time I got to writing book 2, I understood in my bones just how much work I was going to have to put into this book to make it exactly what I wanted. I didn’t look for shortcuts, or worry that I wasn’t a good writer because I couldn’t do it “faster”. I didn’t wonder if I was doing it wrong. I just put down one word at a time, and then tackled one revision task at a time, until it was done. I was able to cut out the murky, wallowing phase that eats up so much time.
I now work with writers on first books all the time. And if there’s one thing I always want to share with them, it’s that all the work has to get done. No beta reader, editor, or publisher is going to do it for you. So, plan for it, and chip away at it until your book is exactly what you want it to be.
So, if you’re writing your first book, keep going and you’ll get there. If you’ve completed a draft, and are stuck in the resistance phase in the murk, here’s some next steps you can take to keep your book moving forward. Once you know what needs to get done, knock off one step at a time until you’ve got a book you’re proud of.
But don’t stop moving, or you’ll land in the time-sucking murk.
Do what you can to skip over the part where you doubt if you’re doing it right, and dive in with full gusto.
Once you’ve written your first book, and gone through this path of resistance, coming out with a book ready to publish on the other side, I’d put money on the fact that you’ll get to the end of your second book… and that you’ll write it faster than you did your first.
Suzy Vadori is the award-winning author of The Fountain Series. She is a certified Book Coach with Author Accelerator and the Founder of Wicked Good Fiction Bootcamp. Suzy breaks down important writing concepts into practical steps to make it easy for writers coming from outside the industry to get up to speed in a snap, so that they can realize their big, wild writing dreams!
In addition to her weekly newsletter encouraging writers, and online courses, Suzy offers both developmental editing and 1:1 Book Coaching. Find out more about our RWC team here and discover how to connect with Suzy and all the resources she has to offer here.