Even during all the hurly burly in my life at the moment – becoming a dad! – I’m still writing every day. I’m conscious that the luxury of spending hours per day on my creative output is going to be diminished somewhat over the next few months; I’ve always been fortunate to have understanding family and friends around me who seem to accept my mental distance even when I’m with them physically – when I’m in “the zone”, I sometimes forget where I am, and I suspect the next few months will educate me on how to change this view; parallel planning will suddenly become a lot more key.
But I love my writing; I make no apology for that, and it’s an outlet for my creative energies. My blogging and my fiction are very different arenas, and they help me learn different writing skills – they each require different abilities, and I enjoy moving between the two.
At the moment, I’m continuing to work on a series of books that are more sci-fi-esque than anything I’ve developed before … if you don’t count the attempts at Star Trek fan fiction I worked on back in my teenage years (I don’t think it was called fan fic back then, but that’s basically what it was – and it was terrible). I’ve always been curious about creating a series – longer than the duology that I first had published – and the trilogy I originally planned for the series quickly moved into a quadrology because I felt I had more to say.
And then panic set in. Book 1 was published, followed by a prequal, and Book 2 was sent off to the publisher for a second round of edits. All sorted, and I had some free time to work on Book 3. I was feeling vaguely confident, as I’d started mapping it out a long time ago and had already completed a large chunk of it. But when I came to read it back recently, it didn’t feel quite … right. I’d been working hard on Book 2, with my editor, on some sections, and it most definitely raised the bar if I do say so myself. As a result, when I saw what I’d written in Book 3 so far, I was underwhelmed with the output; it wasn’t where it needed to be in terms of quality, and I knew that I needed to up my game if I was going to submit this to my publisher and not get laughed out the room.
I went through a couple of different versions, trying characters in different situations, but they were resisting the tweaks and changes. They knew where they needed to be, and all I needed to do was listen. Easy, right? Hmm, not always. Being an effective writer and hearing what the characters have to say is hard if you had a notion of where Book 3 should technically end, but the characters disagree. They were determined to steer the book in a different direction, and I had to eventually let them; they wanted to express themselves, and I’m merely the author.
So I feel slightly freer now that I can organise the book in a different way; I’ve given my imagination free reign again, rather than trying to channel it down a specific path because of where I thought it should be going. I was concerned about the route my writing seemed to be going, but it’s so much more pleasurable now I’m giving myself permission.
Give yourself permission to write without any restrictions on what you’re exploring. That way, your writing will be better and you’ll feel more confident as a result.