Fact: writing is hard.
Fact: I hate my writing.
Fact: I started liking it during one of the first Zodiac books (probably The Gemini Paradox), all the way through the writing of the fifth book, The Pride of Leo (coming spring 2021).
I thought I was on a roll. Words were flying off my fingers (okay, my mouth--I cheat by dictating and okay with that). My last completed manuscript was that fifth book of the Zodiac and it came in at around 127,000 words (twice as long as Bitter Aries), and I wrote it in 18 days.
Not long after I outlined the sixth book in the series, and because I was so far ahead of schedule (and my editor), I also outlined the new high fantasy trilogy I plan on releasing in early 2022.
The roll was continuing. Until I had the woooooonderful idea to ask my editor to push back the delivery date for the sixth Zodiac book by a month so I could write the entire trilogy while the world was alive in my head.
It made sense and would, I thought, keep me on or ahead of pace for my 2021 output. How could it not? I'd just finished outlining the world and its characters. Three books of The Witcher meets Conan. My fave. Words flowing from fingers (cheating lips).
What could go wrong?
Dry and Arid
Pretty much describes my brain when I set down those first words in Fireborn, the first of the Battleborn Trilogy. And it made NO sense. I mean, I knew this world. I've been thinking about it even before the first pair of eyeballs discovered Ezekial Sunstone's love of chicken wings. I knew the characters and their problems and challenges, loves and hates, and I even knew that to hit the right level of violence tone, I had tap into the power of the music I'd play as my soundtrack while writing.
FFDP 4 Life! Of Course!
So, wise decisions aside about listening to Five Finger Death Punch over and over, I was flummoxed to find that the story I thought I knew so well that I should be able to write an entire trilogy in just two months was not flowing like it was "supposed to."
But that's the thing that I knew but didn't seem to know ... if you know what I mean?
If writing a novel was easy, everyone would do it. Most don't. Most of those who do don't finish. It's a fact of (writing) life.
There are as many reasons for that as there are manuscripts sitting unfinished on hard drives all around the world. The important point is not that it happens, but what we decide to do about it.
Perseverance is the key.
I track my word count. Don't judge me. You shouldn't, not if you have ever struggled (or still do) to complete a novel. It works! And you didn't have to pay $19.99 plus shipping and handling to learn that.
Look at the far right column in the picture above. That's my daily words for each day this year--when I started Fireborn. Two thousand-word days might sound amazing, but when I wrote The Pride of Leo, I was routinely hitting 8-11,000 words a day. The only reason I was not doing more was because I simply could not sit or stand at the computer any longer (or my wife had honey-do tasks for me that were waiting on me to finish giving attention to Zeke and the gang).
You can see that within the week I have started to get back to at least the same area code as where I left off in November. Next, I'm aiming for the same town. Then the same street. Pretty soon I'll be right inside that mailbox of goal achievement. By mid-January, should ("better be?") in my full stride with this book. If I'm not regularly hitting eight thousand words per day by the week, I'll have to look at where else in my process I went wrong.
For the record, I don't expect that to happen. I'm already nearing the final third of the first book, and as any writer who has ever approached this part of their manuscript will tell you, this is the part in the writing process that is so exciting it usually flies by.
Because the second book picks up where the first one leaves off, the writing should flow once I hit that stride.
The stride I'm already approaching.
This was an unpleasant surprise, but not a show-stopper.
I hope this offers a little encouragement to others. It is normal to go through these slow grinds when switching projects or starting a new series. What's abnormal is to be like me and expect your brain (and subsequent writing habits) to make a seamless transition
Don't be like Paul.
I'll provide more updates on Fireborn and the Battleborn Trilogy in upcoming weeks. For now, let's just say that if you enjoy gritty high fantasy in the style of The Witcher and the old-school Conan tales, this will be a series (hopefully a long-running series at that).
For those of you hoping I don't walk away from Zeke, no fears. Book six's outline is getting the once-over (more like one hundreds-over) from my editor. That will be done as I'm wrapping up this trilogy. Then it's on to fixing book five and writing book six. I expect two Zodiac releases this year. Those two will be about the size of the entire series so far the way the writing is turning out. I hope that's good news for you.
I hope everyone has an epic weekend!
Pick up the free series starter, book 0 of The Zodiac series, called The Fall of Aries and dive into the series readers are comparing to Jim Butcher, MD Massey, Shayne Silvers, and Orlando Sanchez.
Originally Posted: January 2021