By the end of May this year, I had a finished draft of What Happens in London.
And until a week ago, I opened that draft about once a fortnight, if that.
I kept telling myself I was putting it to the side and letting it breathe.
But I wasn’t.
I was scared of it.
Yep, that’s right. I was experiencing the sophomore slump.
Pretty funny given how few copies of What Happens in New York I’ve sold!
Actually, it’s not funny. It’s something I have a feeling a lot of writers experience, be it about their first book or their tenth.
When I spoke to one of my closest friends about being afraid of writing What Happens in London, she said she’d known all along. I hadn’t realised it was so obvious.
It wasn’t that I’d stopped writing—I was still working on Productivity for Writers, my email course, and my novella, but deep down I knew I needed to focus on What Happens in London first. And I wasn’t.
Lots of people have asked me when it will be out, but I couldn’t give them a date. I’m still not ready to announce a date publicly—after what happened with What Happens in New York, I’m not doing that until it’s much, much further down the line—but I have given a tentative date to a few close friends.
Having goals that others are aware of keeps me accountable, and gives me something to work towards.
How to Tell if You’re Afraid to Write
Are you focusing on the project that’s most important?
For instance, if you’re working on a series, is the next book your priority? If it isn’t, why isn’t it?
Are you avoiding it?
Do you find yourself working on different projects instead, justifying finishing those with excuses?
Are you full of excuses why you’re not writing?
Even when you’ve published a book, it’s still easy to fall back into the trap of ‘I’m not in the mood. I’ll write later.’ If you’re in that mindset and used to write large amounts, this is a HUGE sign.
How to Get Over Being Afraid to Write
Find out what you’re afraid of
Have negative reviews put you off? Is the subject too meaty? Work out what it is that’s niggling at you, and answer each of the topics as if you were talking to one of your friends.
Talk to a friend
When I realised what my problem was, I spoke to a couple of friends about how I was feeling. Some had known it for a while, others were just as surprised as I was. Talking it out with them helped, though. All my friends know what I’m like for putting pressure on myself, so having them sit me down and tell me it’ll be fine really helped. Even if believing them is easier said than done.
Change your mindset
One of the issues I had with What Happens in London was that I still thought of it as ‘I’m writing book two’ when actually I’d already written it. I needed to edit it. Editing is a scary and time-consuming process, and it takes far longer than the first draft. But it’s necessary.
Once I changed my mindset from writer to editor, What Happens in London became less intimidating and more fun to work on.
Sit down and write
Sorry. No pussyfooting on this blog. Sometimes you just have to sit down at your desk and write. Even when you don’t want to, even when you know the words you write won’t end up in your finished manuscript, sometimes you just have to write. Building up a writing routine is imperative, and you won’t build one if you only write when you feel like it.
You’re writing a book because you love to write. But just like you won’t always love your partner or your parents or siblings, you won’t always love writing. But you chose to write for a reason, just the same as you chose your partner. Stick with it, and remind yourself of the times that made you fall in love with writing.
You can do it, you just need to change your mindset.