Writing Like You’re Under Contract

As month seven in working on my WIP rolls around, I’ve admittedly grown more than a little impatient with not only the process of writing this novel, but with my progress in the publishing industry. My impatience is exacerbated on a semi-occasional basis over fears of missing the Edwardian era/Downton Abbey craze when I was ahead of the curve long before the series premiered in 2010 (and on that note, being ahead of a trend is nerve-wracking in and of itself–you’re out there on a limb by your lonesome!). Yet, I was standing firm in this time period before the industry decided to take a second look at non-Regency/Tudor/Victorian settings, and I will still stand here long after Downton Abbey’s popularity settles into normalcy. So to get back to the title of this blog post, I am changing how I think about my status and my MS and writing as though I am under contract.

I’ve read countless interviews from new authors in magazines and on blogs, and the thing most have in common is their anxiety over the “sophomore slump” or “second book syndrome“. In a nutshell, you’ve had years and years to work on your first book, or the book that finally sold to a publisher, and now you must buckle down and write book two in your contract in 6-9 months. During the process of writing Book 1, you’ve had ample time to set the MS aside to work on something else, or play video games when you were stuck, or even stop writing altogether simply because your time was your own. With Book 2 your time is not your own–your time is literally money, and the longer it takes to get into a decent writing groove to turn in your MS on its deadlines, the longer it takes to kickstart your career (particularly in genre fiction, where many publishers have ramped up publication schedules not only from the date of signing, but between each release!).

In my own case, my WIP has been percolating in my mind since 2008, was restarted in 2010, and reached its pitch (to the agent who signed me) incarnation in December 2011. As of September 2012, it has gone through four different versions as I’ve struggled to incorporate points of feedback from my agent (a major source of my frustration has been my word count–no matter how many times I’ve started over with the book, it still tops way over 100k), and as of today, version No. 4 has about 100 pages to go until completion. It’s been tempting to set the MS aside to work on another book, or to even scrap this book and pitch something else, but not only would I be disappointed with myself, but this story won’t let go, and so I’m putting my nose to the grindstone and ignoring my fears and doubts as well as the doubts of outside sources, to get this done as though this book is contracted to my dream publisher. There are no guarantees about the publication of this book (pleasepleaseplease!), but indulging in a habit of not finishing a book when the going gets tough, or the end doesn’t appear to be in sight, is detrimental to my writing career and my self-discipline. So here’s to completing A Disciplined Heart, and hopefully, my writing like I’m under contract is more than wish-fulfillment!

Author: Evangeline Holland

Evangeline is a public historian who brings her academic skills to fiction, in order to fill in the gaps in the historical record. Her love for history permeates just about everything she does, going so far as to "suffer" for this love--as the bruises and stuck fingers from fencing and sewing costumes to understand life in the past firsthand can attest.

2 thoughts on “Writing Like You’re Under Contract”

  1. You can do it! Writing like you’re under contract is a great way to look at it. But remember to enjoy the journey and why you write in the first place. I plan to get more disciplined, too so that I can enter an upcoming contest. That’s my biggest motivation right now. Best of writing to you!

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