When I started writing the Gatlin series, it was a mixture of fun and necessity. I needed a distraction, but this was a fun way to take my mind off everything else. I wrote for eight hours a day, and in a matter of three weeks, I had a book laid out in front of me.
Then I moved to editing the first book and writing a second. Let me tell you, writing was a lot more fun than editing. But somewhere along the road, writing went from fun to necessity. Suddenly I was writing because I felt like I had to, not because I wanted to. It was like there was this obligation to get the stories in my head down on paper.
But moving from fun too must didn’t happen overnight. I was able to write the first three books without really realizing that I wasn’t’ writing for fun anymore. It wasn’t until the fourth book, Chasing Death, and NaNoWriMo that I realized writing wasn’t fun anymore. I was writing nearly 1600 words every day. I was slogging through the book out of obligation rather than letting the book guide me.
In hindsight, I can see that I wasn’t writing for the right reasons. And my book may or may not suffer because of that. With the Gatlin series, the books took me where they wanted to go. But with Chasing Death, I forced it along. We will see what happens when I start editing the book, but I feel that significant rewrites are in my future.
So, was it worth it? Hammering out those 1600 words a day, only to have to rewrite a majority of them in the next couple of months? Pushing the story out of my head until I finally could write THE END? Realistically, yes, it probably was. Not because I have another fantastic story on paper now (which, don’t get me wrong, the story is excellent). It was the right thing to do because I learned something.
It wasn’t easy to push through NaNoWriMo, but it did give me a look into writing for necessity, and I wouldn’t say I liked it. Right now, I write because I want to. I don’t have an agent, deadlines, or anyone breathing down my neck, hounding me for another book (other than the fans of The Defender, who desperately want the second one). I write for me.
I also learned to push through my first writer’s block. It’s pretty amazing, but in all my words for the Gatlin series, I had yet to experience true writer’s block. Sure, I had moments where I didn’t know where the story was going, but I never was truly stuck. I could always talk it out, and then the story would reveal itself, and I would set to writing once more.
But with Chasing Death, because it is a story that needs to loop back from beginning to end, I struggled with creating the links. It is based in the real world, and it needed to make sense. Unlike science fiction, I had to have the edge of real-world realism. A gunfight in downtown Calgary? Would that really happen? The answer was not so easy to find. Enter writer’s block.
So yes, I learned something. I learned that I need to write for myself, not a silly challenge or anyone else. I learned to push through my very first writer’s block. And I learned that if a story is worth telling, it will tell itself. That was the hard lesson. Chasing Death is a story that needs to be told. Alyssa Brown was in my head, she needed to be set free, but she needed to come in her own time. Just like any woman, she wouldn’t be forced to show up on someone else’s time; she would come when she was damn well ready.
Ultimately, writing for fun… or not is really the question. The answer, while it may seem simple, was not so easily found. I had to suffer through a lot to discover that writing for fun was a lot easier than writing under pressure. Obvious, right? It is now, but hindsight is always 20-20.
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