The Dreaded Sequel
This post was written before I went to New Zealand, but it’s really similar to the next post, How it All Made Sense, which was written there. It just goes to show how much I’ve changed 🙂
When I started writing Immortality Awaits in 2007, I always had one goal in mind:
Tides of Darkness.
For some reason, this has been the book I feel I’ve been working toward my entire life.
So often I felt like Immortality Awaits was the “you just have to get through this” book in order to reach the second one. (Which led to a premature release.)
I ignored every interview I saw where the writer talked about how difficult the sequel was to produce.
I always thought it would be much easier to do the sequel than the first book, especially because it was what I felt I was striving to achieve the whole time.
I figured… I’ve already got the characters, the settings, the world, and the plot has thickened. How hard can it be?
Harder than I could have ever imagined.
Ignoring all of the continuity that you have to pay attention to, there’s a lot more pressure to pump out a good book when it’s the second one.
Especially when you already have people tugging along with you, begging you for answers to the questions you dropped into their brain in book one.
I thought building a fan base would give me inspiration, urging me to move forward and produce the best book possible.
What I got instead was a fat wall of writer’s block and a summer full of anxiety and depression.
I didn’t write anything for three months after I published Immortality Awaits and started the beginning of Tides.
When I pressed the “Publish” button, it was almost like every amount of energy and excitement I had put into the book just disappeared on me.
I found I didn’t want to market myself.
I was too scared of negative reviews.
I didn’t try.
I started to pick at the second book, but once I had written everyone’s introduction, I got stuck.
“Where am I going with this? What am I going to do? I’m worthless. This is awful. What was I thinking? I’m never going to get anywhere with this.”
They’re the worst thoughts possible, but I’m certain every author has them at some point, especially when you’re writing the next one.
As we are all our own worst critics, it is the easiest for us to put false negative thinking into our brains.
Thoughts like these have kept me stagnant, waiting for my life to “just happen.”
I see my goals, I see the road I’m on, all the work I have to do to get there, and I just think, “Do I have it in me?”
After about a month of this relentless depression and negative self-talk, I finally sat down and asked myself, “What do you want out of life? What do you want to be doing?”
“I want to travel and I want to write,” I answered almost immediately.
It was like I was just waiting to address my issues for the answer to blossom.
I went back to my sequel and went back over the beginning, doing my best to put myself back into the writing mindset to push out the book I’d been working toward my whole life.
I instead found myself going over the same ten chapters, over and over, trying to make them “perfect” before I continued on with the story.
I tried, but I had no idea where I was going with the story, or how I was going to get them from Point A to Point B (this is when I discovered the importance of the outline).
I took my dream of traveling and started to analyze how I was to go about accomplishing this goal.
After looking at one plane ticket, I felt like my life was crumbling.
How was I going to travel the world? I didn’t have enough money to pay my rent for the month, let alone drop $1200 on a plane ticket to New Zealand.
Then, by the grace of God, I discovered The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program.
I knew it would open up some doors and pave the way for my dreams to come true.
Even though it wouldn’t happen overnight, I knew the easiest way for me to write the second book was to travel.
I needed to see new places, experience new cultures, and go on an adventure similar to that which I’m putting my characters in.
I needed to face my fears and put myself in uncomfortable situations to build my own character to transport that into the cliched phrase, “You write what you know.”
Toward the end of summer, after I had been working on the program for about a month and went out in my own backyard as the program recommends, I found myself filled with an inspiration I thought I had lost.
I got so stuck in the day-to-day world of bills, jobs, social obligations, and worst of all an impending fear in the back of my throat, and I forgot to look around me.
I was always reaching for something more, something different, and instead of appreciating what I had around me and using it as a launch to go further, I wallowed.
But there is beauty and inspiration to be found everywhere you go.
I went to ten places I’d never been before in my own backyard, and wrote more than I had in the last three months.
I reconnected with nature, found the reasons people travel here, and pushed myself to get out into the world.
No negative self-talk.
Just a boy with a dream and a story to tell.
If you have a dream, follow it.
The greater the fear, the greater the chance of success.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
Tides of Darkness, here I come.
Have you ever seen the progress you’ve made on one of your projects? Tell us about it in the comments!