Writing book two of The Victor’s Blade has certainly been an experience.
I’ve had a lot of responsibilities (plus work), so over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying out the “bit by bit” method for writing: chipping away at this manuscript one small daily goal at a time.
It’s been keeping me writing, but I find myself getting frustrated with the slow progress. It feels like the word count is only ticking up a single word per day. I feel like I should be doing more. Maybe I should. Or maybe I’m giving it the best I can right now. Not sure.
In addition to the small daily writing goals, I’ve been trying out the school rough draft method: writing like crazy and then worrying about cleaning up (i.e. cutting) all the excess words later; being very intentional about not going back and rereading or editing yet.
That’s very difficult for me as a perfectionist, which is part of why I’m doing it. I think it’ll help me grow as a writer in the long-term and help this particular manuscript in the short-term; book one took way too long to get done because I kept getting hung up on the details. I’m not letting books two and three suffer from the same problem.
However, not reading back leaves me nervous. “How is the manuscript coming along?” I wonder. I have no concept of how the pacing or characters are turning out. But if I read back, I’ll start tweaking things sentence by sentence… wasting time and ruining my forward progress.
I have to keep reminding myself that I can always go back and change things later. But it’s that unknown aspect that scares me to death.
Starting book two was scary for the same reason; it was largely uncharted territory, especially compared to book one. Book one was in the works since the project began as an idea even before 2001; so I had plenty of time to work, think, and tweak as much as I wanted. But even in older drafts of the trilogy, the furthest I’d gotten was ten chapters into book two.
I’m currently at chapter 23 and about three-quarters of the way through book two.
I’ve written further in The Victor’s Blade than I’ve ever been. Reminds me of the scene from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring where Sam stops at the edge of a field, staring at Frodo as they’re setting off on their adventure. “If I take one more step,” Sam says, “it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.”
Fear. Nervousness. Uncertainty. Hesitation. But also the desire to overcome these things and press forward. I certainly understand how Sam felt!
What helps Sam take his next step—and each step thereafter, all the way to Mordor and back—is Frodo. What keeps me moving forward are the days I finish my daily writing goal and realize, “Hey… I really enjoyed writing that.”
I’m a big proponent of writing what you want to read. I think that’s what makes the most meaningful, personal stories. So when something I write gets me excited, it’s encouraging; I did something right!
I’m excited about book two. I like how it begins. I like the tension between the characters and how the plot points are pushing them to grow individually and as a group. I’m having fun writing many of the scenes, and I’m losing myself to the flow. There’s no better feeling than that.
I thought book two would be overwhelming after all the work and time I’d already put into book one (“I’ve gotta do all that all over again…”). To my delight, it’s been quite the opposite. I’m finally seeing some plot points I’ve had planned for fifteen years playing out on paper. I’ve been able to capture the essence of how I want certain scenes to play out (though whether I’m doing so is up to my beta readers)! Maybe best of all, working on book two has helped me better plan ahead, cleaning up the trilogy’s outline as I gain a clearer vision for the series. Sure, there’s been plenty of days when writing feels like a chore. But the moments of excitement make it all worth it.
As long as I can keep my focus on that, I’ll keep taking those steps further and further from the Shire on this adventure.
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