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The Joy and Agony of Writing a Series

Last week, I finished writing my next young adult zombie novel. It still needs to be typed (I handwrite the first draft), then it will needs lots and lots of edits. It’s the first in a series, which is both exciting and not so exciting. I found this blog post, which I did for a blog tour a while ago, and I feel like it totally applies.

I enjoy book series. As an author, I appreciate and enjoy that readers get lost in my series. I love that they are invested in my characters and can’t get enough of their adventures. It makes me happy that they anxiously await the next book.

Writing a series can be a magical and wonderful experience. I enjoy that the world is already set up and that the characters are already established. I don’t have to strain my brain coming up with new ideas, I can expand on ones that already exist.

The thing that (I hope) makes my series so wonderful is that I have fun writing it. I enjoy being in that world just like you do, but at times, it gets tedious. Sometimes it isn’t fun anymore. When this happens, I have to walk away. I have to work on something else. I have to take a break.

Writing a series can get incredibly exhausting. I have to spend a lot of time in this world and with these characters. I’m there for months or years, and I know waaaaay more about what happens than what is on the page. My brain is full of elaborate back stories. I know minute details about the characters’ lives and the history of the world. Sometimes these details are written down so they aren’t forgotten, but they aren’t ever part of the final story.

Keeping track of all this gets tough. And sometimes the characters don’t cooperate. Some days they don’t want to tell me their stories, or I get bored listening to them. Spending too much time with characters is like spending too much time with real people. We get tired of each other. There is some truth to the phrase “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” even with fictional people.

There’s also the added pressure of making sure the next book lives up to readers’ expectations. I want to make sure the details are just right, that I’m staying true to what was written before, and sometimes that means going back and rereading the previous books in the series.

There’s a need to get the book out in a timely fashion so that interest isn’t lost. Nerves get frazzled when I feel like I’m falling behind—even when I don’t have a deadline. When this happens, it makes it hard to continue to write. It becomes difficult to overcome the fear that I’m going to fail, that people are going to be angry with the book.

There’s a moment when I just want to scream and tear my hair out, but then I take a deep breath and step back. I remind myself that this is supposed to be fun. And if I’m not having fun, then it’s not worth doing.