View Full Version : Goal crossroads?

02-08-2019, 09:05 PM
I only just joined earlier. You can see in my introductory post that I have one unpublished book under my belt (that I have barely tried to sell!). Since I finished the last one I have had a squillion ideas for other stories, all different genres and writing styles and reading ages. Some I have carefully tucked away in the nether regions of my brain, others I have written "free-style" (ie without a properly plotted story, making it up as you go along), others I have very specifically plotted out but not written a word of the actual story...and everything in between.

So in terms of goals, I'm honestly a little confused. I know it is very far from efficient to keep going the way im going, bits here and there. Plus, the overall indecisiveness leads to very little writing being done, and a whole lot of "dwelling" on what to do!

I'll be very honest, one major hurdle is the commercial side of things. I am quite sure that if I managed to sell one book, it will be like unleashing a Niagara falls worth of writing. So im constantly doubting which story to pursue in focus. I have this lingering doubt that I might not have it in me to keep writing and writing without some semblance of it being worthwhile (beyond personal enjoyment). I might have one more in me that I can do without any sign of success. Does this make sense? Its a pity, because its the (obvious) clash of my love of writing versus the understandable nature of having to actually get it out on bookshelves. Frustrating, in a word.

Ive even flirted with the idea of this craziness; To finish/polish the first 3 chapters of each story I have in mind, and then send them out to agencies. If I had an inkling that I was on the right track I wouldn't even mind telling an agent "it will be later after all, sorry". A form of validation, something everyone needs to some extent. Otherwise I tend to feel that Im simply wasting my time, twirling around in limbo. Don't get me wrong, its fun to write, but the painful strides needed to get a book close to 100% is quite different than doodling for fun.

So...how do people here deal with setting goals when they have so many different stories bursting out at once? Flip a coin? Persevere at all of them? Most curious to hear others opinions, thanks :)

PS: as for the first book I wrote, I spent a significant amount of time plotting out and writing sequels (which are at various stages of completion, 50% ish each). If the first one doesn't go anywhere, it would be crushing to see all that effort get flushed away. I'd love to continue writing the sequels, but then theres that constant doubt "I am completely wasting my time here, but I love these characters and where they are going!". Bah :P

02-09-2019, 01:42 AM
Hey Vatnip,
I feel your pain. I'm about as successful as you, sounds like, though maybe with a bit more completed. Some advice though, based on what I've been reading online. Sending uncompleted books to agents is a waste of time. They won't read them. As soon as they see that you don't have a full MS they'll trash your message. AND from personal experience, I think trying to finish one book at a time works better. I am currently juggling 5 different stories, each with entirely different worlds and characters. I tried what you said at first, writing a chapter of each at a time, cycling through. It made all of them weaker. Trying to keep things straight in your head about one story is difficult enough. Switching gears before you finish, you'll hamstring yourself. I'd say finish one, try to get people to read it, and find out there if it's actually any good. If it's not, and it's fixable, polish the hell out of it. If it turns out it's beyond saving, as apparently lots of people's 1st...sometimes 2nd and 3rd novels are, try again. If you enjoy the process enough to keep going, it will be worth it for a career doing what you love!

The Otter
02-09-2019, 03:54 AM
I'd agree with Greyburne: wait until you've actually finished and edited a book before you start sending out the first few chapters to agents. Most agents won't consider unfinished works.

But yeah...I've published several books now and I empathize a lot with the difficulty of settling on one genre. My first two books were YA sci-fi, the next was a YA contemporary love story, and I just sold a middle-grade fantasy. I naturally gravitate toward a variety of ideas and settings. Sometimes successful authors do dabble in a variety of genres, but there is an expectation in the market (and among publishers) that a writer should stick to one genre. It's much easier to develop a readership (something I'm still struggling with) that way.

Though if you've just got a bunch of ideas and half-completed stories floating around at this point, I think worrying about that stuff is premature. At this stage I wouldn't spend too much time thinking about your hypothetical future writing career, because such worries can become paralyzing: just go with whatever you feel is the strongest idea, write a complete book, send it out to beta readers, and then once you feel like you've whipped it into its best possible shape, start querying agents.

02-09-2019, 07:53 PM
Good advice, thanks. I actually do have one completed book, I need to pull my socks up and start sending it out, although I might use the "share your work" feature here a bit beforehand.

I'll need to settle on finishing one of the others and leave the rest to later. Of course, the one im most interested in right now also happens to be the story I have not put to paper yet. Typical! I do have it all plotted out though, so its not all bad.

"focus", in general, seems to a be a difficult factor in writing!