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Writing The Next Book

“Write the next book.” It’s a piece of advice you’ve probably seen. It seems to be a favorite tidbit of wisdom for people to share when someone asks what to do while their book’s on sub, or while they’re querying, or if no one seems to be biting on their initial book.

And people give that advice for a reason. Even if the first book does sell, most people aren’t in this for one book, they’re in it for a career.

But I think sometimes it’s hard advice to hear, and harder to take.

Sometimes you really do need a break. And it's smart not to push yourself when you're burnt out. That's not helping you or anyone else. But sometimes the issue is something different entirely. That first book is just The Book, and no other book can replace it in your heart. Maybe you just fell in love with it. Maybe it’s that you put so, so many hours into it. You don’t want to write something else, because nothing else will compare. Because you can’t imagine putting so much of yourself into something again, and potentially having it rejected again.

But you can’t think of it that way, or you’ll never finish anything else. Starting something new doesn’t mean giving up on the old. What it means is, you can write more than just one thing. You are a writer. You are resilient.

It can be especially hard to start writing the next book when the first one is currently being rejected (by agents or editors or whoever else), but getting started is your big hurdle. It gets easier from there. It doesn’t matter if it takes you a week or a year to finish. A year may feel like forever. But it’s not. It’s when you don’t ever pick the pen back up that it truly takes forever.
Kaitlin Ward

Kaitlin Ward is the author of Bleeding Earth, Adaptive Books 2016, and The Farm, coming 2017 from Scholastic.

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23 comments:

  1. Thanks for this :)

    -Kelsey
    kelseysutton.blogspot.com

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  2. So true! As someone who is writing the "next book" for the first time, it is absolutely harder this time around for all of the above reasons.

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  3. Honestly, I'd recommend starting the "next" book before you're done with the first (or at least starting it while the 1st is being edited / beta'd).

    While you're in the middle of getting rejections and all keyed up is no time to try and start anything. If you've already got a beginning, a scene, an ending, an outline, notes, ANYTHING on your "next" one, then it's a lot easier to make yourself write it.

    Just take an hour or so and freewrite or something so that when you're at that point that you think you'll never "start" anything again, you'll already have the starting part over with.

    I know a lot of people think it's weird or stupid, but I have what I call a "pause pile", which is a backlog of stories for which I wrote the first chapter. Then I set them aside for future use. That'll be work wasted if I never go back to them, so it's incentive for me.

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  4. So true right now. Only it's not that I'm being rejected, or can't live up to the first book, I just can't get my characters to do anything interesting.

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  5. This is a wonderful post. Thank you so much for the nudge to write the next book even though it's going to be hard!

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  6. I can't even count the number of times I've heard an author say they were in the middle of querying THE BOOK when they wrote another. And that next one sold. Great advice.

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  7. Really helpful article. Thanks ^_^ We all need a push to get us to move on to new ideas :)

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  8. Thank you for that. My book was on submission in 2010 - and it got rejected (nicely) over and over and over. I'm working on the NEXT BOOK. And I'm getting close to finishing, but sometimes it's hard to open up that document when there's such an overwhelming sense of REJECTION. The good news, though, is that I know this next book is better. More mature, the characters are deeper, the themes richer.

    But, I will admit, every time someone told me to write the next book, I wanted to strangle them until they turned blue. Tail between legs, they're right.

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  9. This is such great advice. I'm so thankful I started something new while I was querying my last project, difficult as it sometimes was. Turned out that project didn't get picked up by an agent, but the blow was lessened a bit by the fact that I had a brand new project pretty much ready to go when the last of the rejections came in. Had I waited around, putting all my faith in that first project, I'd be starting at square one right now. Instead, I'm polishing something new and gearing up to query again.

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  10. It feels like "The Book" every time I finish one, and it hurts a LOT every time it gets rejected, until I give up on it - that's when I can start the next one. It's a pretty tough emotional process, lol.

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  11. Great advice. I'm actually "trying" to write that next book, and this is exactly what I needed to hear.

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  12. absolutely. one of the most important pieces of writing advice ever, and so well put. a year goes by no matter what, and at the end of it, you could have another book -- you just have to push on and write it.

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  13. Great advice, Kaitlin. I just got finished with a book in one genre, and I was revising the other one in my head. LOL. I can't wait to get back to it and send it out to agents after my betas tear into it. :-D

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  14. Gotta agree with the need for a literary holiday. It's like a break-up on (hopefully) amicable terms: you both need to go your separate ways, but that first love always sticks a little.

    ... leaving you just enough time to realise how sucky that first effort was, and just how AWESOME the Next Book is going to be. (And, if not, the one after that.)

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  15. Fantastic post. Sometimes it takes a long, long, long... long time for a publisher to finally make a decision. If they see you're working on more, they might be more inclined to take you on!

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  16. That's great advice- really inspired me to get on with it! Thanks.

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  17. Great post. It is hard to start that next project, for sure. BUT, once you do, I find it keeps the mind/time busy and also, at least for me, rejections sting just a tiny bit less when I feel like there's something else in the pipeline.:) Good blog topic.

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  18. Awesome post, Kaitlin! And I agree--sometimes you DO need to take a break! :)

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Item Reviewed: Writing The Next Book Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kaitlin Ward