I’ve been really struggling with the paranormal novel I’ve been working on (working title Thorns of Summer). I’ve been writing for hours after the kids go to bed, and barely squeezing out 250 words. It has been painful. I knew where the story was going, but I couldn’t quite get the characters there — and when I let what I was learning about the characters drive the story, it veered in a way I couldn’t get my hands around.
What scared me, though, was that I was losing momentum.
It took me a lifetime to get to this place where I am writing books — fiction, particularly — consistently. Not picking at projects, not writing when I feel like it, but consistently, persistently writing books. If I lose my momentum … I’m afraid I’ll never get it back.
Rather than continue to operate in fear, I decided to work on a different project and see how that felt.
So I started writing the follow-up to Paint It Red, working title Santa Fe Blues.
The writing came so easily, I was startled.
So for the last week, I’ve been writing Santa Fe Blues — and my enjoyment and momentum are back.
Here I was, scared I didn’t have what it takes, scared the books I wrote in 2020 were flukes (hello, imposter syndrome!) — and all I needed was to work on a different project for a while.
I’m thrilled things are going better with my writing, but I admit, my imposter syndrome (who I’ve named Barbie — but that’s a whole other story) doesn’t like that. I committed publicly to finishing my next book by the end of March, and switching projects midstream means I might not meet that goal.
“It’s no big deal if you don’t hit a fake / self-created deadline, Jess,” you might say. (That’s what my husband says, at least.)
Here’s the thing: It IS a big deal.
It’s a big deal because I respect myself, which means keeping commitments to myself. (Besides, if I can’t keep commitments to myself, how can I keep commitments to other people?)
It’s a big deal because holding to deadlines give me something firm to anchor to so I don’t give in to laziness. (Believe it or not, I’m pretty lazy by nature.)
And it’s a big deal because if being an author is going to be part of my life for the long run, I need to be able to continually write books, which means keeping the gears turning on writing projects. (The successful authors I know — the ones who pay their bills writing books — publish at least two books a year, but most publish more than that.)
For me, writing books is like a flywheel. Once I get it going, momentum takes hold and keeps me running smoothly. BUT, I have to keep the engine going or the flywheel will eventually slow down and stop.
So I’m still aiming for the end of March to complete my first draft … but I’m no longer sure if the book is going to be Thorns of Summer or Santa Fe Blues. And that’s okay. They’re both fun projects, and I’m excited to bring both into the world, whenever they come.