Lessons Learned from Book 4

And just like that, I’ve finished writing my fourth full-length novel.

I know four might not sound like a lot to most of you, especially when there are plenty of authors out there on 20 or 30+ books…but four is a lot to me. Like, I have always wanted to be a writer, but I don’t think I thought I would ever get to this point, considering my track record of being the slowest writer ever.

I almost thought Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough was a fluke…I wasn’t sure I’d be able to repeat the process, but I did! I finished What Kind of Fool, the second books in my Penn Warren University series, and it’s about to be sent off to beta readers. All in less than a year, when I really put my nose to grindstone.

I wanted to take some time to mark the occasion and also share some lessons I learned while writing this book, because I’m always growing and learning more about myself and my process.

Lesson One: There will always be good and bad writing days

I think this lesson is the hardest to swallow; even if you’re a practiced, experienced writer, no writing session is ever going to be exactly the same. Sometimes the words come easily and other times it feels like pulling teeth. I had plenty of both days during the writing of WKOF. The key is not letting the teeth-pulling days get the best of you.

And, to that end…

Lesson Two: The words will come, if you let them

It’s easy to get discouraged on those bad days; believe me, I know. But I always came back to the computer and back to the story. There were some days where I had no idea what was coming next and I feared that the book would never get written. But I kept putting butt in chair, even when I didn’t feel like it. There were plenty of writing sessions where I only got 200 or 300 words and called it a night. I recorded 19 words one session. 19! But, they were 19 words I didn’t have before so I was still making forward progress.

I had to extend my first draft deadline three times, LOL, but the book got written.

Lesson Three: Consistency really is key

So, I’m not one of those writers who believes that you have to write every day, but I do think consistency is really important and consistency can look different for different people. For me, I really tried not to miss more than one day in a row. Did that always happen? Absolutely not. There were stretches were I missed almost a week – and it was so hard to come back to the manuscript after that long off.

That’s why consistency is so important. What was it Newton said? “An object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion”? This applies to physics as well as writing!

A writer a rest remains at rest, and a writer in motion remains in motion.

Lesson Four: Sacrifices will have to me made

This is a biggie. We all have the same hours in a day and some of us have less between day jobs, families, pets, caregiving responsibilities, school, etc.

If you want to write, you’re gonna have to make the time to write. Not find the time. I wouldn’t find any time if I were just looking; you have to make the time, usually by cutting out something else.

For me, this is usually other entertainment, TV or reading, or house chores. And let’s be honest, using writing as an excuse to neglect house chores is great. Oh no! I can’t mop the floor, I have to make my word count. I’m devastated!

This year I’ve been tracking my monthly word count and books read that month, and the months with the higher word count have the lower books finished. So the data backs me up. If you only have two hours after the kids go to sleep (or before they wake up) and you spend those two hours watching TV, now you have no hours to write.

The very official data:

Four lessons for book four feels very poetic, so let’s leave it there for now.

What do you think? Are any of these lessons a surprise? Do you have to keep learning the same lessons over and over again (like me)?

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