Posted by kirstyes
Today I’m pleased to welcome Lisa Lueddecke to the blog with a very insightful piece on why writing your second published book can be tricky.
Writing that Difficult Second Book
Writing my first book, A Shiver of Snow and Sky, was one of the most exhilarating, organic things I’ve ever done. The story came from me so easily, to the point where I could write more words per day than I ever had before, for any consistent amount of time. I was bursting with ideas, and trying to find room to fit them all into one story, working hard to ensure that any future readers, if I were lucky enough to get an agent and a publisher, would see the world as I saw it. Could feel the world as I felt it. I wrote obsessively, over long and delirious hours, unable to quiet the characters and the scenes floating around in my mind. I wrote from before dawn, until afternoon or evening. I sometimes carried a notebook with me, so I didn’t forget anything if I was away from my computer.
When I did get lucky enough to get an agent and a publisher, I got something else as well: a two book deal. Instead of just editing the first book and preparing it for publication, I had to then think about writing a second one. This was good for me, because I already knew the story, and I knew how it would fit into the world and the bigger picture. I knew roughly where I wanted to go with it, and I thought that I would sit down and do what I had done before: let the story take over, and just write. But instead of writing thousands of words a day, I was writing a few hundred words per day, maybe a thousand. I found myself being extra careful, second-guessing myself and my voice, and editing as I went along. I realized very quickly that it was a completely different experience than writing my first book, because I knew that this one would be published. People were going to read it, and I knew when they would read it, and it silenced that thrilling voice and that sense of excitement that had been so vibrant the first time around.
For me, it wasn’t a case of having run out of ideas. I knew my world well, and I knew what stories still lay beneath its icy surface, waiting to be told. Instead, I found the knowledge that, as soon as I was done with it, and sent it from my computer, people would read it. It wasn’t simply between me and my keyboard, and even though I had hoped to be published while writing the first one, I didn’t know if I would. I just wrote it for me. Being published changed my relationship with writing, and in a way, I think it had to. It is different writing with deadlines than with all the time in the world, and it’s different writing to be read than writing for yourself, at least in my experience. While this is something that I am still working on to this day, I did manage to get through writing that second book, and I’m taking the things that I learned into writing new things. Publishing will always have deadlines, and books will always have readers. My job is to train my voice to carry on, and to be brave enough to keep telling stories I love, even though some things have changed.
A few things I did to try to make writing my second book a little bit easier:
• I set up a designated writing space that I found inspiring, devoid of clutter or too many distractions.
• I would turn off my wifi from time to time to keep myself from checking Twitter or other social media websites.
• I would play music I found inspiring for that scene, or music that I listened to while writing the first book.
• I made sure to take walks outside, or to at least sit outside to get some fresh air. It always seemed to reset my mind.
It may not always be as easy as it was when I was writing my first (published) book, but in time, I can learn to let go of the worries and the pressures and just do what I love the most: tell stories from the heart, and then set them free to find their homes.
A STORM OF ICE AND STARS by Lisa Lueddecke out now in paperback (£7.99, Scholastic)