With winter over, I’m coming out of my social hibernation, and I felt the need to write an update for the blog. A lot has happened, most of it good and exciting.
After I completed Strengths for Writers, I signed up for Write Better Faster 101 in January. I’ve completed the coaching cohort since and am halfway through the follow-ups.
I can sincerely say that these two courses have single-handedly changed my writing life. I’d been on an uninterrupted writing streak since November, and I’d stopped counting the days after the 100th, but it’s definitely been over 150 days. I have gained insight into who I am as a writer and how I work best, dispelled so many harmful myths I believed in, questioned the premises that kept me stuck.
It’s been a lot of work, but I’d do it all over again because it made me a better writer. If you’re a writer and you’re on the fence about it—don’t be. It’s the best money you’ll ever spend on your career, and if the price is prohibitive, try reaching out to the Better Faster Academy and working something out. There are community events through which discounts can be earned, and payment plans as well. Becca Syme also has a Youtube channel and Patreon. Since finding out about them, I’ve been passionate about spreading the word, hoping others will find it as helpful as I did.
Initially, I kept the streak going even on weekends, first to see if I could, and then out of habit. But last Saturday, the streak came to an end—I’d had a challenging day, and I’d completely forgotten that I hadn’t written.
I’d expected it would happen eventually, and thought I’d be more upset about it, but I wasn’t. Not really. The writing streak wasn’t so much about maintaining this perfection indefinitely, but more about proving to myself that I could thrive while writing consistently.
I’ve done that long before I broke the streak.
So I took last Sunday off, too, and picked it back up on Monday like nothing major happened. I’m reluctant to even see it as a setback, because in letting go of this first streak out of many, I’ve also questioned what else I wasn’t letting go of.
And there was one big thing.
The Reality of Intuitive Writing
Throughout Strengths For Writers and Write Better Faster, I was learning how to hone and refine my process. We’re all wired differently, which causes differences in how we move through the creative process, and the individual focus in these classes helped me understand my own wiring.
I learned that I was an intuitive writer, and that I need to figure out each story from the inside out. I can work with outlines, and they are helpful, especially when I get stuck, but they are for building the world and the societies and jotting down the major events that happen. It’s for everything except the human, emotional element of the story. Eventually I have to let the characters onto the page, and that could change everything I thought might happen.
This was something I fought against practically since I started writing all those years ago, often driven by well-meaning advice from writers who’d figured out their own process. I needed creative control; I didn’t want to feel like my characters could have a life of their own when I was the one making all the decisions. Certainly, a lot of writers say they don’t work that way, and I wanted to be like them. My characters never spoke to me the way some other authors describe, but as I’ve learned, that doesn’t mean I don’t need to get to know them as I’m writing.
Outlining extensively was a way for me to feel like I had the story down and all I needed to do was write to the beats. But then I would wrestle with the manuscript throughout multiple revisions and rewrites because something would be lacking, and I’d end up having nothing to show for all that work. The story always felt Not Right.
I used to believe that I was the problem. Specifically, that I wasn’t writing consistently enough, or well enough, to break through those manuscript issues.
That premise started looking pretty silly after the last five months of daily work and over 100,000 words thrown at the manuscript in an attempt to figure it all out. It’s been very difficult trying to find my way through this story, both from the inside out and the big-picture view.
So, am I still the problem? Is it that the process doesn’t work? Or something else?
The Problem of Experience
One thing kept coming up in all my coaching sessions when I wanted answers to process-specific questions like, “But how do I know how long it’s going to take me to finish a book?” I love planning, and I want to be able to know these things, so I didn’t like the answer.
I can’t know how long it takes me to finish a book until I’ve finished at least a few of them. Sure, I might know how long writing a draft to an outline takes me, because I’ve done that many times, but can I quantify how long it takes me to churn out an idea? And how about all of the ideas that go into finishing a book? How long does it take to go from being stuck in a manuscript to flowing again, and how many times does that happen in each book, and at which points in the story?
Plenty of authors I looked up to are able to gauge this, but I’d been disregarding the fact that they would make those estimates based on experience, and being aligned with their own process. And plenty of gurus tell aspiring authors that they simply need to know this if they mean to be successful.
There are so many questions I don’t have the answers to yet, and I’m slowly learning to accept it and just enjoy the journey of learning by doing it.
Regardless of how long I’d been a writer, I’m still at the beginning of my author career. This is a blessing because it means I get this time to learn my process inside out, so I’d be able to keep writing for a long time, sustainably.
But that’s also made me face a truth I hadn’t wanted to face all these years.
I was compiling my documents yesterday and found four complete drafts of Fateweaver Book 1, each of which had gone through at least one major revision—and some of them had more. This was the story idea that made me want to become a writer back in 2016 and I’d worked on it ever since.
Until recently, I stuck with it because I had no other novel ideas. I’d written short stories here and there, but no other story was ever able to grow as much in my mind as Fateweaver did. Even my one published book so far is part of that same story.
But when I started writing consistently last November, a strange thing started happening: other ideas came. A full-on romantic fantasy idea, a cozy-fantasy-with-witches idea, a potential spin-off to Fateweaver, even a mafia romance at one point. All of them live in the same world Fateweaver does, but in different timelines of it. And I’ve had to convince myself not to start some of them, because I had this belief that I needed to finish Fateweaver first.
Goodbye to Fateweaver… For Now
I’ve come to realize that I just don’t have enough experience right now to do this story justice. Either there are problems in the manuscript that I cannot see and fix, or it’s just too complex for me to trust I’ll be able to find my way through the story from the inside. (Getting stuck in a series after publishing a few books and being unable to finish it is probably my worst writing-related nightmare.) Writing it felt like I was trying to run a marathon before I could even walk a mile. The scope is immense, the stakes epic, the world huge, the cast of characters and the amount of plot threads unwieldy.
Basically, I’m completely out of my depth. I never realized that before, because I thought, why would I be? A story is a story and if it lives in my head, I can get it out on paper. And perhaps I could, still, but now it’s clear to me that my creative energy is better spent on building up to that level first.
Letting go of this project for the time being, after all the work I’ve done over the past few months, feels a lot easier than it once would have. It feels like the right decision.
I think it’s no coincidence that the one project I completed and published so far is a lot simpler compared to the concept of Fateweaver. Not only was it a novella, but it was also self-contained, with a single arc and personal stakes. I’m hoping to continue in this style until I feel like I’ve grown enough as a writer to handle more complex projects.
With the new project I jumped into, I look forward to each day of writing. It’s such a change to be having fun again.
I’ve been considering what to do with Halfblood’s Destiny, my first published work which is a prequel novella to Fateweaver, now that I decided its continuation won’t be coming any time soon. It seemed like good marketing sense to quietly unpublish it and remove all mention of the abandoned series from my website, but that’s what I would’ve prioritized in the past.
Ultimately, I’m proud of having written this novella, and I think it was a huge first step for me. Sure, I’ll grow from it and surpass it and won’t release the continuation for a while, but it’s still an important part of my journey as a writer.
It’s not going anywhere.
My focus will always be on that next book, the next step of the creative process. And I’ll always be transparent about where it’s leading me, even if it gets a little messy or unpredictable.
Right now, I think it’s leading me to writing fantasy romance with Elves. They were always my favorite part of the world I’ve been building and I’m looking forward to exploring it, so keep your eyes open for more updates about that in the coming weeks.
Wishing everyone a lovely, warm, blessed spring!