After I wrote a big chunk of the first draft of The Palms of Light, the projected final book in The Hoarding series, in NaNoWriMo of 2021 I felt a major decrease of productivity with my writing. The current situation in Spain at the time was filling up all my brainpower with anxiety. I started dabbling in Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad School which opened my eyes to a whole new side of marketing and things I needed to update with my current writing brand in order to build a following. I had to work on readying my second poetry book Stages of a Breakup for publication in August 2022. And to top everything off, I unexpectedly lost my job and visa in Spain and had to return home with mom and dad in New Jersey. I have accepted the reality that my life and author brand are not what they used to be, where I could once focus all my time and energy into writing a single book. Now, I have less time, less headspace, and I need to get a monster of a third book done.
I realized I can’t do what I did with the other books, rewriting draft after draft after draft. Junkland had fifteen drafts. The Lost Soul had around 5-7 drafts. As the books get longer, I don’t have the headspace to sit through multiple drafts of a book that’s 600-800 pages long. One sit through could take me anywhere from two to four months, working on it every single day. I decided to take a different approach in writing this third book. I’m going to outline EVERYTHING!
In the previous books of the series, I outlined a bit but always hit a point where I needed to just jump into the story to discover the parts of the outline that were blind to me. However, this led to more and more drafts. This time I decided to outline every single character, dividing and organizing them, developing their descriptions, background, characteristics, what they’ve done so far, and what they will do in this story. This took me months to do, but I honestly wish I had done it for the previous books. I feel like I know my story on a whole different level. Parts of the story started falling in place with other parts naturally. Things started making sense and became clear. Old characters began to have purpose.
Now that I’ve finished outlining the lengthy cast of characters (60 of them), it’s time for the next phase of outlining. I’m going to outline the entire story chapter by chapter to make sure everything flows together. This will allow me to see which parts of the story need more work and the parts that I don’t have to worry about, clearing up some headspace for me to focus, saving me valuable time.
Writing is hard. Finishing an epic fantasy series that keeps on growing is hard. Having the mental capacity to think about this stuff, going on seven years, with everything else going on in my life has been the biggest struggle of all. I’m so excited to write it, but all I want is to be done so I can move on with my life and write other great stories. But I think this process will make me a better writer overall, allowing me to write bigger and better series later on in my author career, and at a faster rate.
Thanks for being patient. The Palms of Light will be coming soon! My plan is to be pretty much done with this next draft, once I can finally sit down and write through everything I have outlined. Then I will send out this draft to my beta readers this fall. Yay!