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Christopher
06-14-2010, 08:30 PM
I know the answer to this is not cut and dry. Writing my first book proved immensely challenging and after it was over I thought the second one could not be nearly as difficult but now that I have taken an extended break from writing and starting to write the sequel to my first one I am having a hard time getting into the groove again. I guess its mostly owing the fact that I am generally a workaholic when it comes to writing and having taken so much time off (I really needed the rest after the first novel) since finishing my first book that its just re-establishing my discipline that is so trying.

At any rate, just wondering if any of you thought the biggest hurdle was your first novel and if all subsequent books came a bit easier.

I have my synopsis and outline down pat but even so its hard to get on a roll nowadays.

CaroGirl
06-14-2010, 08:47 PM
I think that varies enormously from writer to writer and from novel to novel. I've found each novel successively easier because just doing it has helped me learn and improve. However, I can imagine taking on a tough subject using a challenging style, for example, and the process being more difficult than my earlier novels as a result.

CheekyWench
06-14-2010, 08:48 PM
1st was fun and new.. still took me almost exactly a year to complete the 1st draft
2nd was a breeze.. 1st draft took 19 days!
3rd... eh... I'm still working on it.

scope
06-14-2010, 08:50 PM
I imagine that answers to this will be all over the place, and with good reason. For me the first book was by far the easiest (not easy). My knowledge of writing, the industry, dealing with agents and publishers, marketing, etc., was relatively meager and I had the luxury to write without anyone "looking over my shoulder."

SarahNFisk
06-14-2010, 09:01 PM
I also agree that it's going to be different depending on who you ask. For me, writing the first draft is the easy part. Characters and their stories come easily to me. It's the revising, editing and fine-tuning that is difficult for me.

However, I don't think writing my second novel was an easier or harder... but it is better because of how much I've learned since writing the first.

BrooklynLee
06-14-2010, 09:02 PM
My first (completed) one took a long time, with a lot of fits and starts. My second one, which I am working on now, seems to be going a lot faster. I just learned a lot about writing from the first one, and the abandoned efforts that came before. I also have a lot more confidence in my ability to do this and that keeps me working. With the first one I went through long dry spells where I decided it was crap and didn't write anything.

Actually, the biggest barrier to my working on my second book right now IS the first one, because I've been going through agent and publisher-suggested rewrites, and every time there's another back and forth, my current work in progress gets shunted to the back burner for a few weeks.

However, I have an idea and some notes for a third book, that if I ever write it, I know will be a lot more time-consuming and difficult for me for a variety of reasons.

CACTUSWENDY
06-14-2010, 09:09 PM
Don't really know except that for some.....they seem to write faster and better with each new book. There are some at AW that pump them out like mad now. lol....and my hat is off to them. When I read back to my first one I see many places that needs lots of work. When I read any since then ....I see the same thing. :D they too need lots of work. But, as long as it remains fun and I get to hang out with those that have such talent all is well. ;)

Christopher
06-14-2010, 09:46 PM
I expect that once I get in my rhythm again this newest effort will be a bit smoother sailing. Like I said, the first novel was really challenging and by that I mean that it was at times REALLY difficult. This was primarily because my plot was so deep and multi-tiered. Then all the research (it was historical fiction) was just exhausting. Now that I have a lot of the time period figured out and a lot of my characters reappear in the sequel I don't think I should struggle like I did with book #1. But I do think that my discipline was stronger the first time out because I was so absolutely driven and determined to get it done. Now I don't feel so rushed or like I have anything to prove to myself or anyone else.

If I can only just get more motivated!

virtue_summer
06-14-2010, 09:49 PM
My first novel was the easiest. I was in junior high and still thought every word I wrote was golden. The second through fourth ones were also relatively easy. The fifth (the first one I wrote as an adult) was more difficult and took me over a year. I'm having difficulty even getting started with the sixth. Somewhere along the way my inner critic changed from not being discerning at all to finding a problem with everything I write. I second guess everything now and wish I could go back to the blissful ignorance I had when I was a kid, at least long enough to get the first draft out. It's funny because I always thought it was supposed to get easier as time went on, too, but for me it got harder.

seun
06-14-2010, 09:50 PM
My first wasn't too hard to write although it is complete crap. Since then, it's varied with each book. I've hit a wall a few times at different points but just keep going.

Ryan David Jahn
06-14-2010, 10:47 PM
The first novel I wrote was the easiest. I was fifteen and enthusiasm shot me through two drafts of the thing in about six weeks. And, of course, it was a masterpiece.

I still try to get through first drafts quickly -- within three months. But I find doing it takes a lot more energy. I think more about my sentences, about my characters, about pacing and structure and point of view. I wake up at three o'clock in the morning realizing I've been going the wrong direction with the story for the last week and have to rewrite 10,000 words. Or that I had a character do something he wouldn't do -- not as I've drawn him to this point -- because I thought it would be a cool moment, except it doesn't ring true. Or something else.

It's still fun and enjoyable, and there are many more good days than bad, and I'd rather be doing this than anything else. It's just that when I first began I was unaware of so many things that I could bang through a novel without even once thinking about them (you don't worry about things you're unaware of) ... and now my mind is full of various concerns.

Fortunately, these worries only get to be when I'm not at the keyboard. I can still fairly easily fall into the world of the story when I sit at the typer, and everything else fades away.

Shadow_Ferret
06-14-2010, 10:56 PM
They're all hard.

shaldna
06-14-2010, 10:57 PM
it's as hard as it is.

sorry i can't offer any more than that, but there are so many factors that effect each book that there is no way to say if one is actually more difficult to write than the other,

PoppysInARow
06-14-2010, 11:16 PM
I find the second book harder than the first. I'm not used to writing sequels.

Chris P
06-14-2010, 11:30 PM
Hardest in which way? My first attempt was a novella. Although I had dreams of publishing it, I didn't know what I was doing, made a lot of newbie writer mistakes, and had a ball doing it. I knew it was unpublishable and at the time I didn't know if I would try another novel, so I had it printed POD as a souvenir (someday I will be able to spell that word without having to right click on my first attempt).

My second attempt was much harder. I wrote the first draft much like the novella, writing what I wanted how I wanted to. It came in at 230K words. I wanted to give publishing a serious try, so I had to learn about publishing, getting an agent, and how to cut 120K words from a novel I loved. That was the hard part. I'm now looking over the 109K word draft for final changes and will start querying agents soon.

My third isn't done yet. I've done the 80% that only requires 20% of the work, so things start getting harder now. I'm hopeful I can get to a query-able product more easily than the previous book, but we'll just have to see.

The alternative is to stop writing, which is not an option.

Chris P
06-14-2010, 11:35 PM
Reading the other responses, I'm reminded of learning how to drive. All three of my kids I've taught drove really well the first few times, and then REALLY badly the next few times. Then they got better. Someone said inner critic above, and I think that's very, very true once you start getting into it but before you get good at it.

Jamesaritchie
06-15-2010, 12:50 AM
Traditionally, the second book is supposed to be the hardest. It sure was for me. The sophomore jinx smacked me up side the head every time I sat down to write.

I will say the sophomore jinx only seems to apply to the second book if the first was published. I suspect it's trying to live up to your first published book that causes most of the problems with writing a second.

Other than this, I don't think writing a novel is ever hard work, but this doesn't mean it should be easy. If it's too easy, you're probably writing teh same book over and over.

Soccer Mom
06-15-2010, 01:28 AM
Whichever ms I'm working on at the moment is always the hardest.

Cyia
06-15-2010, 01:34 AM
I will say the sophomore jinx only seems to apply to the second book if the first was published. I suspect it's trying to live up to your first published book that causes most of the problems with writing a second.

It can be that, but it can also be that someone who had a big twist at the end of book #1 may not have a similar twist for book #2. If you're holding back a key piece of information until the climax of book 1, that information is already out there in book 2 so the surprise is gone. You can't use it string the reader's interest and have to find another angle.

willietheshakes
06-15-2010, 02:01 AM
It can be that, but it can also be that someone who had a big twist at the end of book #1 may not have a similar twist for book #2. If you're holding back a key piece of information until the climax of book 1, that information is already out there in book 2 so the surprise is gone. You can't use it string the reader's interest and have to find another angle.

Which really only applies if you're talking about a series...

Captcha
06-15-2010, 02:01 AM
Book 1 was REALLY easy for me, as was book 2, but book 3 is kicking my ass. Partly because, as someone else mentioned, I keep getting jarred out of the flow because I've got to go and review proofs or whatever for the first two, but also...I'm not sure. I think I'd been storing up ideas for a long time for my first couple books. I've always been a day-dreamer, so when I started writing stuff down, there was loads of residual material in my brain to review and chose from. But after I used all that up on the first two, I'm left having to imagine everything fresh for the third book. Fun, but it's taking a lot longer.

Christopher
06-15-2010, 02:10 AM
Really interesting answers and extremely varied! Just goes to show there are no absolutes in this artistic genre we call writing. There are a myriad variables as well of course. The perfectionist in me is what makes writing so arduous. I had to teach myself to just keep writing and postpone the self-critique until after every chapter. I cannot write an entire book THEN go back and start the editing process. I have to edit after every chapter, then edit again in the final read-through. And what I learned during the first book was that no matter how much I edited and re-edited, there always seemed to be more editing that needed to be done.

Cyia
06-15-2010, 02:23 AM
Which really only applies if you're talking about a series...

The OP said "sequel" :tongue

willietheshakes
06-15-2010, 05:42 AM
The OP said "sequel" :tongue

Yeah, I was just noting that the thread had drifted from there almost immediately.

Jamesaritchie
06-15-2010, 08:08 PM
It can be that, but it can also be that someone who had a big twist at the end of book #1 may not have a similar twist for book #2. If you're holding back a key piece of information until the climax of book 1, that information is already out there in book 2 so the surprise is gone. You can't use it string the reader's interest and have to find another angle.


Yes, I see your point.

Phaeal
06-15-2010, 08:54 PM
I find that my novels are like Tolstoy's unhappy families: each is difficult in its own way. Unlike his happy families, however, each of my novels is also fun in its own way.

Carmy
06-15-2010, 08:58 PM
The first novel was easy.

Then I learned how to write and the second one took a lot longer.

fadeaccompli
06-15-2010, 09:38 PM
I wrote a few terrible "finished" novels back in college, which went easily. Then I wrote a lot of fanfic novellas, which varied wildly in how easy they were to write and finish. (One is still sitting around with a chapter that basically says "X happens here, will write it later.") Then I wrote a proper novel over the summer, and it was a wild ride, but went pretty fast. Then I wrote a sequel, which was a hideous slog and took much longer and I discarded at the end as being Just Not Good. The one I'm writing now is going really well, but I'm only two chapters in...

(And I'm not counting any of the unfinished and discarded works, which vary from 2k to 75k on where I stopped and decided they weren't going to work.)

Novels vary. Some spring off the pen like the mythological muses are sitting there doing the writing for you. Some are painful, hideous grinds where every word has to be bled onto the paper. You learn more techniques as you go along, and that both makes things easier (you know how to do it!) and harder (now you know what you did wrong before, and what you should be doing better!). Just the way it goes.

And the funny thing is, how easy the book is to write doesn't correlate to how good the book is. Go figure.

Alitriona
06-21-2010, 01:00 PM
Whatever I am working on, everything else always seems as if it was easier but I know in reality I know it wasn't. It was just different.

I think writing is like anything else in life, if you take a break from it, it takes a while to get back into the zone.

Paul
06-21-2010, 01:38 PM
Yes, if you mean realising it is crap. Finally you console yourself that 'it was a learning experience'.

shaldna
06-21-2010, 03:46 PM
And that's the key. Just because it's hard doesn't mean it can't be fun.

mellymel
06-23-2010, 04:06 AM
writing my first book, 168K YA paranormal romance, was a piece of cake. i wrote the entire thing in 6 months. Now ask me if it was any good.

Well, I think the story is great, but the writing...

I only wish I had joined AW when I had begun writing that novel. Now I have a trunked novel that needs a complete re-write which will probably take me a year to do with all the cutting and fixing that it needs. My second novel that is my current wip is proving to be much more difficult because I know SOOOOO much more than I did the first time around. I'm more deliberate in my writing now. More careful of word choice, more knowledgeable about grammar, punctuation and the need to limit myself in adverb usage. I'm constantly learning and applying and now I feel that I not only have a great story, but one that is well written.

Nya RAyne
06-24-2010, 06:31 AM
Not in my opinion, because you don't know all the things you're doing wrong, but the second and third books are a bitch to write...lol.

artemis31386
06-28-2010, 05:01 AM
Each of my novels have given me trouble in some way, but they've been a joy to write. The pride after its completed can hardly be explained (I think you all know what I'm talking about). But in terms of publishing, the first is always the hardest to submit, because you don't know what to expect.