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7 Lessons I Learned as a New Author

Posted by on October 28, 2014

It’s been a while since I last wrote.    

One year ago, I was eagerly anticipating the release of my first novel, Hear No Evil. It’s hard to believe I now have two books  published and a third one on the way! So if you’ve wondered what happened to my blog (I hope you’ve missed me!), it’s because I needed to concentrate on writing the novels.

It’s been quite a learning experience. As a new, and now multi-published author, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve learned. These may not necessarily be true of all writers since we all function and practice our craft differently. But they are true for me.

1. I do not want to write another series. I loved my characters in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series and I hate to give them up. But by the third book, I struggled for new ways to present the camp experience. I prefer variety, and hope to focus now on stand alone books.

2. If I ever do write another series, I will not submit the proposal until I have at least the first two books completed. I found it very difficult to write one book while launching and promoting another. A writer is much like an actor who must “get into” the character and the story. Maybe that would come easier with practice but I’d rather focus on either writing or promoting.

3. I need time to extricate myself from one story before starting another. This goes back to the idea of getting into the story. The characters and events become so real to an author after living with them for several months and digging deep into their personalities and problems. After I finished Speak No Evil, I found it took a couple months to distance myself from those characters before I could fully devote myself to the next story.

4. Deadlines can stifle my creativity. Another reason I don’t want to do a series again. The closer the deadline approaches, the more worried I become about meeting it and the more my brain freezes and refuses to think new creative thoughts.

5. Physical exercise stimulates creative thinking. My best ideas came during early morning jogs. If I had a specific problem to work out, I’d think about it while jogging and after about 30 minutes, a new idea would present itself that usually solved the problem. Mind you, my jogging is barely more than a fast walk, but it’s enough to get the oxygen flowing to the brain. I actually looked forward to those early mornings, anticipating a surprise.

6. Writing all day is not good for my health and body. My last book, which has just been submitted to my editor, did not come easy. My original story idea fell through, and it wasn’t until 3 months before the deadline that another workable idea presented itself. I am not a fast writer, so three months to write a book I was proud of terrified me. I spent too many long days in the chair, as evidenced by weight gain and fitness loss. I love writing, but not to the detriment of my health. My ideal writing day would be 2-4 hours in the morning. I do like to have a life beyond writing.

7. The characters who are the most fun to write about are the bad guys. The bullies, the ones with problems and bad behavior. The story I just finished writing stars a character who is a great kid. He’s blind, but he’s confident and takes everything in stride. I loved him in the first two books and couldn’t wait to write his story. Having now struggled through three months to finish his story, let me just say he is no longer my favorite character.

Now that I’ve finished my contracted books, I look forward to spending 3-6 months reading all the books I didn’t have time to read while I was writing. Hubby and I will be making a major move to another city in the next few months. And I have a few more story ideas percolating. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

What lesson have you learned from an experience you had? 

              Book 1                     Book 2                                                                                                                                                                      

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10 Responses to 7 Lessons I Learned as a New Author

  1. yosemitesyd

    Good stuff, Mary. I think moving on to a completely different project will refresh you (after you recover from the big move.)Sometimes I think readers like the image of writers who sit at their desks all day creating fictional worlds (much like the comfort in knowing cloistered nuns pray for us around the clock) but our bodies don’t like it, that’s for sure. I may do a third book about the Moraga clan someday, but only if God keeps me up at night with irresistible story lines. Meanwhile, I’m trying to summon the will to jump back into my third novel (where a very bad boy lurks) but have been sidetracked by a fun story that doesn’t know if it wants to be a novella or an eBook in episodes.

    Be good to yourself! And thanks for sharing. If the classic novelist had written series, think of the wonderful characters and stories that would be missing from the literary stage.

    Sydney

    • Mary Hamilton

      Thank you Sydney! What an insight about the classic novelists. Yikes!
      The Lyre and the Lambs is on my list of books I’m planning to read soon. 🙂

  2. Linda W. Yezak

    Amen to #2. Series are popular these days, but I’m always ready to move on to the next book and group of characters. I’m writing a sequel to my first novel because several readers have requested it, and I have another western romance series planned, but only because, like I said, series are popular these days. I have several ideas for stand-alones, but they’ll have to wait a bit.

    Good post!

  3. Sandy Kirby Quandt

    Mary, thanks for your honesty. Writing is definitely not for the weak!

  4. lynellen perry

    Wow! But I’m so glad you’ve learned many things about your writing … these will help you as your career goes forward.

    • Mary Hamilton

      I’m glad, too! And I wouldn’t trade this past year for anything! As hard as it was at times, it proved I can rise to the occasion if necessary! Thanks for believing in me, Lynellen!

  5. juliebcosgrove

    Writing novel #3 in 15 months, I hear you. This is the first one with a deadline, and I hate, hate, hate deadlines. Takes all the fun out of it. But it will be finished just as #2 launches, so hopefully I can concentrate on promoting while my fabulous editor is doing her thing. At least it worked that way when I’d finished #2 as #1 launched….most of all I keep my eye on the prize—this humbling privilege of writing for and about the Lord.

I welcome your thoughts on this.