You’d think by the time you wrote your third novel the whole process would get easier. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t. Or at least it didn’t for me.
Each time you write you’re plagued by the same insecurities: What if this isn’t good enough? What if my publisher doesn’t like it? What if the readers don’t like it … blah blah blah. I still had the same self doubt I had with my first novel – in some ways it was even worse. Once you’ve successfully published the pressure is on. The pressure for this book to be as good as the last one (or even better), the pressure to make sure you earn back that advance, the pressure to sell as well as others in your genre.
In some ways this is a good thing. It pushes you to write better, to raise the bar for yourself, not to slacken off. The trick is not to let it cripple or block you. I find it harder now to just write and not question the quality of each sentence and paragraph. At times I do let the nerves stop me from writing. I have to force myself to sit there and let the words flow reminding myself that I can revise and improve later.
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night.
You can only see as far as your headlights,
but you can make the whole trip that way.”
– E. L. Doctorow
I’ve read stories about multi-published authors who say the same thing – every novel is as hard as the last one. And that’s comforting in a way, knowing you’re not alone. Knowing (in advance) that it doesn’t get easier is actually a good thing. It means we’re prepared for the teeth gnashing when the words won’t come, we know that if we persist we’ll get through the hard times because it was hard lat time and we made it then didn’t we?
The thing is, no matter whether you’re a beginning writer, a mid-career writer or a long-time writer, writing is a hard thing to do. Reminding yourself of that, accepting it and getting on with it anyway is the way to manage the nerves and doubts. The answer to writing insecurity is writing.
Speaking of which, I’d better get back to it.