Book 2

I started writing book2 of The Cahill Witch Chronicles today.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been brainstorming, outlining, and writing synopses with Amazing Editor. It has been good and challenging and exciting and frustrating. There were days when bits of the plot clicked into place like puzzle pieces and there were days (well, one day) when I cried at Office Depot because I felt like I sucked so much. Plotting does not come easily to me. And thinking it through–really thinking it through, and having to make sure it made sense not only to me but to my editor, instead of just leaping into it and figuring it out as I went–was an entirely new way of doing it for me.

I haven’t seen many writers share about this part of the process. I wanted to because, honestly, it was hard. The original outline was way too episodic, without a cohesive arc; it would have fallen right into dreaded middle-book territory. And I had lots of ideas, but without having written anything, it was hard for me to know what would work. When Ari asked questions, I didn’t have answers. Why would this organization do X? If they do Y, what does it mean for Z? I spent more time than I care to admit sulking in front of the fan, all, I don’t know! How am I supposed to know? How do you know before you write anything? OMG I suck. Does everyone else just KNOW before they write? I wanted to be open to all the fabulous ideas Ari and her Genius Assistant were tossing out, but I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t automatically agreeing to anything to please them. And on the flip side, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t saying no to something that could rock because I felt defensive. It was easy to feel defensive. I am a girl who likes to get the answer right, and lots of my answers were not yet fully-baked, and sharing them felt kind of weird and vulnerable. Sometimes I realized that upon further thought, the shiny hooky plot idea didn’t actually make sense. Or it was nice and dramatic but it wasn’t something Cate would do. Or that it was a fantastic idea–for book 3. It’s hard when someone says your idea won’t work or questions it or rearranges it–even when it’s very nicely–even when it’s someone you adore and respect–even when you know that it’s going to make it a better, tighter, complete-in-its-own-arc middle book. When you are used to doing it yourself, without a team–it’s hard to push your own ego out of the way. It’s especially hard to do it without feeling like you suck.

But it’s worth it. Because now I have an outline, a strong spine for a book that I am really excited to write.

I wrote for 3 hours this morning, and I promptly felt happier and more like myself than I have in weeks.

I’ve decided my goal is 1200 words, 5 days a week, which is roughly 5 pages. That’s roughly two chapters a week, which I shall feed to The Playwright and my best friend and my brilliant CP, who are excellent first-draft cheerleaders but will also tell me when things get wonky.

I had this absurd fear that I would sit down at the coffee shop this morning, armed with Snow Patrol on my iPod and a cinnamon scone and Earl Grey, and not be able to write. That I’d have forgotten how.

But I didn’t! I still know how. And it’s very happy-making.

15 Responses

  1. janellemadigan

    Good luck as you embark on book 2. It really is easy to get defensive about our writing because we're so close to it–emotionally and intellectually. But then when others offer good ideas, too, it gets really confusing. I'm glad you found your bearings! Congrats!

  2. Awesome post, Jessica! I love the honesty. I haven't felt like myself for the last few weeks, and I'm worried I won't ever feel like myself again. 🙁 So it's awesome to hear how excited you are to start Book #2! I'm a little afraid of that endeavor. 😀

    1. I bet you will feel like yourself again soon. And if you ever need to chat, feel free to email me! This whole debut journey is exciting and amazing, but it can be hard and overwhelming sometimes too!

      1. Overwhelming for sure. To the point that I may have to take you up on that email offer one of these days! I can't imagine going through this journey alone, ya know, if the internet didn't exist. 😛

  3. "I am a girl who likes to get the answer right, and lots of my answers were not yet fully-baked, and sharing them felt kind of weird and vulnerable."

    oh hai, this is me! Really, I'm terrible at plotting/outlining, but you're right, once you get that strong spine of a story, it can make writing such a joy. Also I love the fact that sometimes, even in the middle of an outline, inspiration might strike and you might veer off to the side.

    1. Yes! I love those little "a-ha!" moments of inspiration when things connect. I feel like sometimes my subconscious plants all these little seeds so things connect later. I just wish my conscious were smarter! But I'm glad this post resonated with you!

  4. Patty

    Wonky what is wonky no wait don't answer that just know that I really like the word wonky yep that is my new fav word.. good luck with the writing.. how exciting you will do fine… luv your post..

  5. Larissa Hardesty

    I love it when authors share some of the scary parts of writing. So thanks for putting this out there! And yay for good writing days!!! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Larissa! Writing is amazing and I love it and feel lucky to be doing this, but it's also hard sometimes. And if no one talks about the hard parts, they're harder because you feel alone! So I think it's important to be honest about the ups and downs.

  6. I know it's completely unrelated, but I have to outline everything I do for work. Otherwise I don't get the points laid out in the content I'm creating. And it makes it easier for me to move bits and bobs around to make more sense for the recipient. On the personal side of things, I write out all the ideas I have, then start asking all sorts of questions. That starts my outline. If I can't make it work at that point, then that becomes a fun idea in a folder on my computer I barely ever go back to.

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