The Fake
The Fake

Claire is secretly finishing paintings for her famous artist father. Grayson is caught up in a life of petty crime and Claire's dad is his next target.

Writing under pressure

Mar 29, 2015 · 45 Comments

I thought today I would answer this question by HPHGaddict:

"Hey, @Natalie_Wen I was wondering if you guys could answer this question:
What do you do when you feel pressured to do another chapter by some of your SB fans, but really want to get three or more other books some new chapters. I guess what I'm trying to say is how do you find balance when writing multiple books?"

This is a really great question, because I'm sure a lot of you who write stories for Storybird come up against this.

Nat and I agreed before we started how long the book will be and how long it will take to publish the whole thing, and so we stick to that (even when it's hard to!). We also had THE FAKE largely finished before we started publishing (we really only have to edit chapters before putting up a new one), and had Wrong Side of the River entirely finished before we started publishing. So, really, we're just sticking with the schedule that we promised you guys and ourselves when we started - two chapters per week. That doesn't mean we don't desperately want to put out a new one sooner, though!

We do feel pressure in lots of other ways too.

Writing a Storybird book is different for us than writing a regular book would be in that we don't get a lot of experts going over our stories before they're published. So we do have mistakes that get through. Because we're both perfectionists, we do obsess about getting things as good as we can, and that's a definite pressure.

Another pressure is reading the comments to see what you guys think is going to happen compared to what we know is going to happen, and sometimes freaking out when your ideas are better than ours, or even when you guess what's going to happen before it does! The great thing about Storybird is that we can make changes in a chapter before it goes up. So if we know you guys are going to be furious with us for something we have planned, we can decide not to do it. So far, that hasn't happened (gulp).

For you guys, if you're feeling the pressure to get up a new chapter, but are stuck, or don't have enough time, or are just not feeling it, here is my suggestion: Be honest. Tell your readers you're a bit stuck, but you're working on it as hard and fast as you can. Maybe some of them will even have suggestions for you. Or, you could ask in comments what they think will happen next. One of your readers might have a better idea than you had (trust me, it happens!). Try not to force things too much if you're just not feeling it. It might lead your story the entirely wrong way, or end up shaking your confidence. Even if people are desperate to read your next chapter, let them know you're working on making it an awesome one.

I find the comments really inspiring in our stories. Everyone likes to hear they're appreciated, and you guys are just so great at that, and so supportive. So I feel really confident in suggesting that if you're struggling, reach out to your readers. They are awesome and will definitely be there for you.

And the other part of the question, of course, is how do we balance writing multiple books.

This one CAN be very tricky. Natalie has completed a book while we've been publishing THE FAKE, and I've revised (and eventually thrown out) several and am just starting a new one.

For me, the hardest part is getting in the right mindset for each project. Grayson sounds very different to Romy, and the style of the books I write on my own is way different than either of them. I usually read a chapter or two of whichever project I'm working on before I start writing, so I can get a handle on the voice of the characters again and remember where I was headed and how I plan to do it. Then, I write and try not to get confused!

Plus, there's finding the time for it all while living a normal life, running errands, going to the gym (and complaining about it), playing with the kids, and all that other stuff. I'm lucky, most of my days are spent writing, or doing something related to it, or playing video games (but that last one is just between you and me).

Somehow, it all gets done. Sometimes there's a whole lot to try and do at once, and a lot of people want me to do a lot of different things. But I like that. It makes me work harder and faster and focus better. I often set deadlines for myself and do my utmost to stick to them, just to push me along a bit more.

So, that's how I do it! We'll have to ask Natalie how she manages it, because she has the busiest life of anyone I know and still stays super organized!

I'm going to put up another journal in a couple of days about how to write a good good guy :D

How do you feel when you have a lot of people clamoring for a new chapter?

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