On writing books

Recently, a friend of mine commented that writing books must be so much easier for me now that I’ve been doing it for a while.

 

I laughed (more like cackled, actually), which my well-meaning friend found confusing. I think any authors out there probably understand why this was funny without an explanation, but for those who don’t, I’ll expand. This is going to be a long one, so maybe grab yourself a drink and take a pee break first. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

 

. . . .

 

So when I first started writing, everything seemed so hard that there were times I admit I thought about giving up (and might have, had I not told everyone that I was writing a book, which meant I had to write a book whether or not it killed me). I mean, what the heck, I couldn’t just sit down and write? No, I had to learn where to put the comma in a dialogue tag, and that it was a comma and not a period you put there, and what a dialogue tag was to begin with, etc., etc.

 

Every time I blinked there was a new blog post where I found out I was doing everything ‘wrong’: telling instead of showing, using adverbs willy nilly, writing in clichés, head-hopping . . . It seemed like there was never going to be an end to the learning, that I was always going to be fighting to keep my head above water. I had this idea that if could just get a good handle on the writing ‘rules’, everything would get easier.

 

Of course with time and practice there came a point where I felt like I did have a good grasp for ‘the rules’ (which I now like to think of more as helpful guidelines), but did the writing get easier?

 

Um, no.

 

In fact, I’d argue in some ways it got harder. Because instead of just letting the words fly, I was now conscious of showing instead of telling, and not using adverbs willy nilly, and not using clichés, and not head hopping . . . Which is all good, because my writing improved exponentially with this knowledge, but it definitely slowed down my progress and, I’ll admit, even sucked a bit of the fun out of it.

 

Around this time I also started to become more involved/immersed/obsessed with the writing community, which, GREAT, but that came with its own stresses too. Because now I had to worry that paranormal was ‘out’ and bookstores were tanking and traditional publishers would be standing in line at the food bank by the time I was ready to query (*eyeroll*). Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed writing, but my shoulders were permanently up around my ears worrying about the fate of my book.

 

So then I had this idea that if I could just get book deal, everything would get easier.

 

Ha.

 

Hahahahahahaha.

 

I’m sorry. Present me is just having a laugh at past me.

 

The writing did not get easier after my book deal (which OMG HOW DID I GET SO LUCKY?!?!?). Because now I had to write my next book while simultaneously doing edits and line edits and copy edits and first pass pages and acknowledgements, etc., for the first book. Even a good news email could throw me back a whole day—how could I concentrate on writing when my heart was leaping out of my chest and all I wanted to do was flag down the mailman about my news?

 

An author friend of mine once commented that she could probably write 4 books a year if not for all ‘the things’ that come along with being a published author. Which, yeah. True. Writing the sequel to HEXED was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I remember thinking on more than one occasion during the writing of HEXED HARDER (HEXED AGAIN) *working title* that once I finally handed it in and deadlines were a thing of the past, I could write my next book totally stress free!

 

So a few months ago I finally handed it in, but did the writing get easier?

 

You’ve probably guessed the answer is a resounding NO.

 

Because now there’s the stress of coming up with the next Great Idea, and it isn’t just me who has to like the idea but my agent and editor and publisher and readers. And I swear every day someone who got their book deal after me is announcing their next deal, and I know I’m supposed to be happy for them (and I am!), but I also can’t help feeling under-accomplished and panicky, which actually doesn’t light a fire under my ass like you think it would, but instead makes me too wound up to write.

 

Which leads me to my conclusion.

 

Writing isn’t easy. It doesn’t get easier because you learned the ‘rules’, or wrote a book or wrote ten, or because you got a book deal. Writing is hard.

 

Writing is hard.

 

There will always be new challenges and new sources of stress and there isn’t some magic thing that’s going to make it easier (except wine and chocolate and queso sauce, which helps a bit). It was hard the first day I started writing and it was hard writing HEXED HARDER (HEXED AGAIN) and I imagine every book I write until I die or get carpal tunnel will be equally hard for some reason or another.

 

That sounds depressing, right? But don’t worry, there’s good news!

 

Nothing worth having comes easy.

 

That sequel I busted my ass writing? It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written. I’m so damn proud of that book I can’t even.

 

So while the writing is still as hard as ever, the hyperjoy that I get from accomplishing something I’ve worked really hard at makes all the stress of writing a book totally and completely worth it.

 

Okay now I’m feeling all emotional. Come here, guys. GROUP HUG!

Posted in writing, writing advice

13 Responses to On writing books

  1. Amaleen Ison says:

    It really doesn’t get any easier? ;-) Oh darn it. Anyway, it’s comforting to know that even the best writers feel under-accomplished and panicky at times. I guess those feelings don’t leave you no matter how successful you become.

  2. Writing is hard. I’m writing the second book in a trilogy, with the first coming out in November. Having to work on book two while editing book one is a challenge. It’s stresses me more when I start to allow self-doubt get to me. What if my editor doesn’t like book two? What if it’s so far from what she’s wanting that she has me rewrite the entire thing? So far, I’m loving the second installment. I know I need to just write it and deal with the response when it comes. I’m sure there’s a lot of good in my WIP, but until I hear it, I can’t help but worry. For me, writing is hard work, mainly because of the uncertainty that comes with each piece. I couldn’t image not writing though, because I, too, get a great sense of accomplishment when I finish a manuscript.

    • Michelle Krys says:

      You’re so right, Georgeann! I couldn’t imagine not writing either. I really do LOVE it! Good luck with your sequel :)

  3. It was really good for me to read this post. It’s just so…freeing?…to remember that everything DOESN’T get easier after you get an agent, after you get a book deal, etc… Even though I KNOW that isn’t how it works, the way the writing community (not trying to blame anyone–I think it’s probably inevitable) talks about these milestones makes it easy to slip into an erroneous mindset. Somehow the fact that there will always be stress and the possibility for crashing and burning makes it easier to focus on what matters–working hard enough that you create something you can be proud of. :)

    • Michelle Krys says:

      I’m so glad you found it helpful, Susan. As strange as it sounds, I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  4. Paulina says:

    “… fire under my ass” – this is a must-use quote for the next book.

  5. Wow, Michelle, you hit the nail on the head (to coin a cliche, gah!) Great post! I’ve had a hard time shifting gears from revising/polishing/editing to getting down the bones of a first draft again. I get so impatient with my process, that I forget that it IS a process. It never gets easier!

    • Michelle Krys says:

      Thanks so much, Robin! I think it’s helpful to remember that if it got easier and writing books was no big thang, we’d probably not be nearly as proud of our accomplishments. I think.

  6. Anne says:

    Enjoyed reading this. so true!

  7. Heather Buitenhuis says:

    I’m so exciting to read your books Michelle!

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