What Happens Now?

What happens when you're done writing the novel and you've edited it for the hundredth time and you've sent out queries? You start the next novel. John Grisham didn't become famous for his first novel, A Time to Kill. He got famous for his second book, The Firm. The thing is, John Grisham didn't stop writing. Even if A Time to Kill flopped, he kept on writing. He kept going, and if he didn't, then The Firm wouldn’t have happened. Another example of this is Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code wasn't his debut novel. It's actually his what, fourth? Angels and Demons came first.

If writing is really want you want to do for a living, you can't bank on just one novel. I'm sure you have more in you than just one novel, right? Right? Okay, Harper Lee only has one novel (that we know of), but we can’t all write a great American novel, now can we? Even Nobel Prize winners have more than just the novel they won for.

Writing is a process that keeps evolving. Lisa Kleypas, and many of the romance novelists like her, comes out with at least one novel a year. Or you can be as prolific as Tom Clancy and come out with two or even James Patterson who can come out with three. Okay, the latter is unsubstantiated, but with all the new James Patterson books I see on shelves, it does look like he can dish them out by the dozen, right?

What do they all have in common? They keep writing. The moment they finish a novel, they start another. Sometimes, they work on multiple novels at the same time. It's all about getting as much done as possible. We all have more than just novel. In fact, we have multiple. I'm sure you have characters in your head that you weren't able to add to your first novel, so why not give them their own story? Basically, it's write, write, and write some more.

But, what about a break from writing, you might ask, dear reader? Well, breaks are always good, except you don't want to lose your momentum. Like anything that needs practice, if you don't get cracking for a while, you'll get rusty. What about what you’ve learned from writing your first novel? That can all slip by the wayside if you stop writing. You don't need to get into the grind. Take it a page at a time if you have to. Of course, if inspiration hits, why take it slow? If you feel like writing a hundred pages in one go then more power to you.

What we really want to take away from this is the fact that we must keep going. If writing is what we really want to do, then why stop with just one novel? What’s stopping us?


  1. Great insights Kate! I'm actually trying this out the whole: write, write and write. I ended up setting up a team blog for work so that I can get everybody to write about their day as well. I'm not so sure they're so hot about it since they are not writers like me but it gives me the excuse to write and push them to learn how to. :)

  2. Hi Kate!

    You couldn't be more right! Writing is something that requires skill, talent and passion, but more than anything, it requires dedication.

    Writers live through their stories and stories, as we know, never stop evolving! So why stop writing!!

    Great post, I really enjoyed it!


  3. Hi Kate. You're so right. As I wrote in my blog today (Serendipity), I am in the submission process--a scary time. But no matter what the agents' response, I will continue to write and submit. My novels are about a woman who wants to carry her own flashlight, and she's taught me a lot.

  4. I agree we need to keep going.

    Just want to point out that James Patterson outlines his stories and he has other writers write them--he does a final edit.

  5. Great post! Very motivational. Now if I could just get that first one out :)

  6. I love this and second that. I wrote most of or started most of my stories before I even tried to get out there in the publishing world. I wanted to wait till I was 18 to not have my parents over my shoulder as much and I wanted to just write for the sake that I love writing. I do not know how many of them it will take to get people's attentions, but I love it and you have to do something you enjoy for the sake of yourself not for others. Its a fun process though, I'm going through it a second time now, a different route and its exciting!

  7. I completely agree that people need to keep hacking at it, even after they've finished a large work. The one thing I'd say, though, is that sometimes a long break and forgetting about the book is necessary. There have been a lot of times where I've been looking through the fiction graveyard that is my hard drive, and I'll find something I haven't looked at since Freshman year of high school and looking at it again now, I can find ways to start twiddling with it again or ways to resurrect it. One of my favorite authors, Barry Hughart, forgot about his best novel in a drawer and after a few years, managed to turn it into a success when he looked at it again. So even if you're not writing anything new, even if you're on a break, go back and dig through those half-finished ideas, as well as recording new ideas, however complete they are. You may surprise yourself.

  8. What? I didn't know that about James Patterson. I feel disillusioned in some way. :-P

  9. Ah, nothing like a Calvin and Hobbes comic to inspire!

    I did start on my second novel, but have slowed to a crawl. Thanks to a much needed kick in the proverbial butt from Ms. Evangelista, I'll be diving back into the fray of writing.

  10. Great stuff Kate,

    As someone who has written screenplays the past eight years, I've learned that success takes a long time, and is often elusive. It's eluded me. ;)

    I've sacrificed relationships to pursue my passion, and have recently quit my corporate job to write full-time.

    Finishing editing my second novel, and should have my third done by February of 2011.

    Maybe someday I'll actually make a living at it.

    J.A. Konrath is my new hero -- self pubbed writer making over $600 a day (Kindle sales alone). He has 29 books, so I've got a long ways to go. Hopefully, I'll be one helluva writer by the time I reach 20 novels.

  11. Hey Kate! I really enjoyed reading this post! Really insightful and motivating! I've always liked writing poetry and have written a few short stories but, I haven't had any time to catch up nor had the motivation to write more.

    Thank you for this great post! I look forward to reading more from you :)

    Moonlight Gleam


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