For the past month, I have been charting my progress on my current project, a historical mystery, The Talisman of Tehuti. Set in late New Kingdom Egypt, it is my second novel. It took me quite a while to begin, after I have finished writing the first, The Wrath of Amun.
Though the books are stand alone mysteries, they follow a chonological sequence. The first one was quite difficult to write on a number of levels; it was my first work of fiction, it dealt with emotional subjects, and it introduced characters who need to be sustained through the following novels.
When I completed The Wrath of Amun, I did not even want to look at my computer, much less begin another novel. So, I took a break. It helped me get a perspective on what I wanted to do with these novels, and it gave me the time to formulate ideas for later books.
The second novel began slowly; I spent some days writing almost nothing, some days rereading the same pages over and over. I realised part of my problem was discipline. I could write whenever I wanted, so why stick to a schedule. Bad idea.
When I started forcing myself to block out writing times, I found my productivity went up. So, for the past month, I kept a log of how many words I wrote per day, whether day or evening was more productive for me, and whether what I wrote was worth keeping or just better off in the waste basket of the computer.
The end result: I wrote 40,500 words in that period and complete The Talisman of Tehuti Friday night. Though it is the first draft and will still need to be proofed and edited within an inch of its life, I am now in the habit of writing. I immediately wanted to start on the next book, but I had to pull myself back.
I spent yesterday formulating the basic plot, and subplots, for the book. I worked on character sheets for the new characters who will be introduced in the next book. Today, I may try to sketch out the timeline, before I ever put a word on paper. But, having taken a break after the first and finding my writing rhythm, I am ready to tackle the next book.
If I get all the background work completed today, and I'm sure I can, I shall actually begin the next book, The Savagery of Set, tomorrow evening. My characters are anxious, I can feel them stirring, they have a story to tell, and I have been the one chosen to tell it.
So, for you newbie writers out there, don't give up hope. I have written three non-fiction books and fiction is still new to me. After the first book, I was ready to give up. The feelings of elation I had Friday night made the disappointment at the end of the first book all worth it. There is nothing like holding a completed work in your hands, and knowing you have accomplished that which you live and breathe for.