I’m finding an interesting pattern in my moods, and I think it’s related to my cycle. No, jerk, not that cycle, the book cycle.
- Week 1: Start a new book (A) directly after finishing and setting aside old book (B).
- Mood: Excited.
Okay, this should have a Begin thinking obsessively about new book, but that’s a little hard to pinpoint. It starts somewhere in the middle of the writing of the previous book, when I allow myself the fantasy of finding a brand new book to fuck. But I don’t cheat. Well, okay, most of the time I don’t cheat. Anyway, this is where I start either with beats/outline/blurb or I just dive in. The second I start writing words down, the book is begun.
- Week 3: Read, edit old book (B). Continue writing A.
- Mood: Generally hopeful, if a bit daunted by early revisions.
Something I’ve just noticed this time around: I can write/revise simultaneously, but it’s a hell of a lot easier when both books are the same series. Easier in the sense that I can drop into writing the new book a lot faster if the one I’m editing is in the same world. This time? I’m writing Home Free and editing The Boyfriends Tie the Knot, and man, it’s kind of killing me. Thankfully, The Honeymoon is on the same track as TBTTK, so this will be it, temporarily, and I can focus on the Home Series this fall. (Except for the New Years story I want to write, which will take place in a beach house with the boyfriends, and Moll, and Lucy’s triad, and–dude. No more spoilers!.)<—-Highlight for spoilery teaser. Don’t get excited, it’s all tease.
- Week 3, cont: Send out B for beta/proof. Continue writing A and attempt to forget about B (again).
- Mood: Good (if I can get back into story A); grumpy if story A is just limping along.
Sometimes I really do forget. Again, this seems easier when the whole thing’s in one world, but TBTTK has the added stress of being the (fake) last in series. That may skew my results.
- Week 4: Keep writing A, at minimum 2k words/day. Assemble all feedback on B, revise hard for a few days. Revisions purgatory is generally when I start fantasizing about story C.
- Mood: Toxic. Poisonous. Grumpy-pants to the nth power. At this point story A sucks, story B is the reason I’m neglecting my kid, and story C will never be as good as it is in my head, so what’s the point of writing it?
This part requires M&Ms. Thanks to my production schedule, I can plan ahead and stock up. Revision includes the following process: Read through entire book no fewer than five times, highlight edits in Kindle app, change, compile a new file, read, repeat. Most of the time I read through seven times, beginning to end. (The Scientific Method came in at maybe twelve complete last-minute read-throughs because I wanted to catch every error. I think I left two. Not bad!)
This is when story A is the rest and relaxation part of my day and sometimes I wish I could just keep writing it because publication isn’t looming over me and I have all those blissful revisions to look forward to in the future, so if I want to say “Hugh moved Truman’s hands to Will’s nipples” I can say that and fix it later, cause that’s a terrible sentence. (God, I hope I fixed it. Well. One more read-through left; I guess I’ll find out.)
(Also, The Boyfriends Tie the Knot? Porntastic, yo. Fair warning.)
- Week 5–ish: Publish B. Continue writing A, should be leading up to the big finish, and a great time to tune back in and go full-throttle. Begin to obsess about C.
- Mood: Publishing is good because it gets one story off the burners. Mood largely dependent on how easily I can drop into story A, but it always happens eventually. Sometimes immediately.
I try to revise at the end of the week and compile for publication at the beginning of the week. Sometimes, like this week, I’m revising right up until I hit Publish. After gnawing on my proverbial fingernails (for me it’s the inside of my cheeks) for a few hours until story B goes live everywhere, I buckle the fuck down and go back to writing. The week or so after publishing is the quietest mental time in my book cycle. I know where A is going, I don’t yet have the pressure of C, and B is off my plate. Also, I have low sales, so I don’t hit refresh a lot or anything. A few folks buy immediately from the mailing list, but otherwise it’s just another day in ebook world when I publish something. Ha.
- Week 6: Finish A. Put aside for 2 weeks, 3 if I’m ahead of schedule. Start writing C. (It starts all over.)
- Mood: Excited.
I’m gonna start playing with the “rise” time of my books. I used to go hardcore thirty days, no excuses. If I’ve really struggled with a draft, I still might try to do that. But otherwise? I’m getting a hell of a lot faster at divorcing my feelings from my precious words. And man, that’s so fuckin’ sweet. I recommend it to everyone. (I was never a defensive feedback-receiver, but the part of me that resists everything but the most basic typo correction now only has the stage for about a second and a half before my brain takes over. Makes revisions so much easier.)
Some of these steps compress a bit, especially if the story is a 30k novella, and the whole thing happens over the course of 3-4 weeks. But this is the general flow.
I wonder what it’ll look like a year from now.