As some of you, who follow me on Facebook and Twitter, may or may not know, I finished writing book three of the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, last week. I took more than a year and a half, probably cost me my job, but it is finally done. It has been a struggle to fight through the writer’s block, remember ideas I had at 3:00 am because I’m too tired to get out of bed to write them down, and argue with my wife about how much time I spend on writing.
This book was a monumental process from beginning to end. I want to share with you some of the processes I’ve gone through this past year in writing this book. First thing is, I usually don’t pre-plan my books. I don’t sit down, write out an outline or plot out my story. I just start writing and let it flow. It usually works for me but, about half-way through this book, I knew I needed a guide to make sure I stayed on the right track.
The guide was very simple. I wrote down a list of the events as they took place, one after the other, in order to maintain my continuity. These were one sentence, simple phrases, that explained what should be happening at that time in the story. The one thing I found out is that, by doing this, you don’t always stick to the progression you planned as your story evolves in writing it.
I found it helpful, in some ways, because it helped me better develop the story. I wasn’t stuck in one progression saying, “It must be this way! Stick to your outline!” No, I let it flow and, to me, it made for a better story. You never know what inspiration will hit you as you’re writing.
Another thing I got wound up in as I was writing this novel was the word count. My last book, The Dark Tides, was over 228,000 words when I first finished it. It ended up at 189,000 words after I edited it. I knew I could write such a lengthy novel again, so I managed my word count. Most experts say a good sci-fi/fantasy novel is between 80,000-100,000 words. I tried my best to stick to that. The closer I got to 100,000 words, I kept saying to myself, “Let’s wrap it up!” My final word count was 101,573; a little high but quite manageable in the editing process.
Lastly, I want to address writer’s block. Now, to be honest, I’ve had a lot of stress issues this past year that added to my normal writer’s block. Losing your job, having to file for bankruptcy, etc., can interfere with the creative process. It made it quite difficult to focus on the story when you’re worrying about finding a job, paying bills, etc.
I finally got to the point where I just “let it go” (no Frozen jokes please) and punched through the block. Once I did, the rest of the story just flowed right through me and I finished the last two chapters in a couple of weeks. Now comes the task of editing, proofreading and trying to sell it to a publisher.
Writing the Forever Avalon series is my dream job. I would love to take this opportunity to push forward and try to become a full-time writer. It’s not an easy thing to do right now, so I just have to make due until then. I know some writers have a distinct process while others, like me, just freeform their stories. I still have more stories to tell in this series and I intend to continue writing them as long as I can.