Sometimes the words don't flow as much as you want them to. Sometimes you sit down to write, and you force out sentence after sentence of lackluster, mundane words that come from overthinking and one-dimensional characters. If you're an artist, you know what I mean. The creations that you're embarrassed to send to others. The things you're not sure will work, not sure people will love and connect with, but you have a deadline and you take a chance. This happened to me. I won't tell you which book it was, but just know that it forever scarred me.
HEATHENS wasn't written like this.
I can't really explain what happened while I was writing HEATHENS. I'd had an idea for awhile (the subplot of the book, which thus far has been kept secret) and over the last year, it morphed and changed. I started marketing the book in April before I'd even written a word. BUT—and this is the kicker—I had outlined 30 pages of random stuff.
I never outline, guys. I'd just been sitting on this idea for so long, swirling it around my head for months, that I'd see or think of something and rush to write it down. Whole scenes started playing in my mind, characters I hadn't even given names to. May came and I thought, "I should probably start writing this book since I booked a PR company and an editor."
But I didn't force myself. There were many nights that I'd browse Pinterest, sit down and read, or just watch TV instead. I thought about the book... always. I let it fester in my mind until one night when I wrote 6,000 words—the first 6k words of the book.
And they were probably my most favorite words I've ever written. I refuse to call my writing "good". I think I'm an okay writer. I can't get past that, and I'll probably never get to the point of thinking I'm "good" or "great." So, "okay" it was. But they were the most okay-est words I'd ever written. And something funny happened after that. The rest of the book started coming to me so quickly, I added page after page of notes. I'd be hiking, driving, sleeping—and I'd rush to my phone to write it down. It was mostly ideas for plot, dialogue, certain scenes. For the first time, I outlined. For the first time, I wrote whole scenes out of order.
I don't know why it happened the way it did. I'm a firm believer in letting the art flow out naturally. I'm not one of those "sit down and write every day" believers. Most days, my words are utter crap. If I force myself, I hate what I write. Which is why I'll probably never be able to quit my day job, LOL. But sometimes, something magical happens, and you sit down and can't type fast enough. There were so many times where I'd sit down, practically bursting with ideas, and I COULD. NOT. WRITE. FAST. ENOUGH.
And, even though these words were in my mind, they'd often surprise me. I'd write a chapter and reread it, not even remembering how I'd written it, if that makes sense. I felt possessed. Ironically, the book has a lot of religious themes and motifs, so maybe it was divine intervention (this is coming from an agnostic half-Jew, by the way, so take it with a grain of salt). I don't know. But I am proud of this book. It's the okay-est book I've ever written, and BELIEVERS, book #2 in the duet, is giving me the same intense feels (I have pages and pages of notes for that book too, because those characters, like Lily and Salem from HEATHENS, would not/will not leave me alone).
So. I won't ever tell you to write every day. It doesn't work for everyone. Sometimes you have to ruminate on an idea for months. Sometimes you go night after night of staring at your computer screen before inspiration strikes. That's okay. People often ask me how I can write so many books, how I can write them so quickly. I don't write all day, guys. I went four months without writing a single word last year. In fact, I haven't written a full book in a long time. This one just came spilling out of me. It was meant to be, I think.
Do what works for you. Figure out how to write the "okay-est" words you've ever written, whether it happens sitting and forcing yourself every day or stepping away and writing only when it wakes you up at night, when it stirs you from your dreams and possesses you. After BELIEVERS, I may not write another book until next year. Or I may write 3 more. I don't know. And I'm fine with that, now that I've finally figured out what works for me.
I can't wait for you guys to read HEATHENS. I've never said that about a book. It feels weird. But I'm just going with it.