Pep Talk from Bella Andre

Dear Novelist,

In the workshops I give to writers, I talk a lot about blocking out the white noise (email, Facebook, phone calls, prolonged internet searches for information you don’t really need to know to write your first draft, etc.) and putting on blinders so you can really give your focus to your book. This advice is a lesson I personally relearn with every single book I write.

In the past two and a half years, I have written 10 books in my contemporary romance series about the Sullivan family. Today, I began number 11.

That’s the quick and pretty version, but if you pull back the glossy cover, the past 30 months actually look like this:

  • Decide to start my new book.
  • Do everything but start the book.
  • Make more big plans to start the book, for real this time.
  • Freak out about not starting the book.
  • Tell myself that tackling the non-writing items on my enormous to-do list is important, necessary work, so really, how could I start the book yet?
  • Tick through non-writing items on my to-do list… and get crankier by the day.
  • Force myself to sit down with my laptop and stare at the blank page and not get up until I’ve written at least 1,000 words.
  • Finally realize (yet again!) that the number-one thing to help both my career and my peace of mind is sitting down and writing. Every single day. From one book to the next.

Today’s start of Sullivan #11 was no exception. I went through every one of the above steps during the past two weeks until I simply couldn’t stand it anymore. When I woke up this morning, I decided the to-do list could wait. Answering emails could wait. A walk could wait. Eating could wait.

But the book could not.

I truly believe that no matter where you are in your writing career, the book is always the most important thing. For a new writer, finishing your first book will likely require great focus and determination. All you want is to finally get to “The End.” But once your book is out in readers’ hands, the most important thing will always be your next book. I’ve seen again and again, in both my own career and others’, that the surefire way to create ongoing success is to write the next book. And the one after that. And the one after that.

Once I finally push myself to start a new book, I always find that’s when the focus finally comes. Fortunately, day by day as I sink deeper into the manuscript, it becomes far easier to block out that white noise and keep focus on the writing.

That’s why I love NaNoWriMo so much. Because it’s all about the book coming first.

Happy writing!

Bella Andre

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