“A little effort applied consistently will lead to massive outcomes eventually.”—Dr. Richard Whitehead
Yesterday I was listening to the pre-game show for the Superbowl, and some commentators were discussing what it is like to be in “the most important game of your life.” They talked about how the player’s nerves were affected and how difficult it is to “settle down and play.”
At the same time, I was plotting a new series of stories for a television series and seeking ways to deepen my own game, and I wondered, “What is the most important book you’ll ever write?”
The answer seemed obvious: for most of us, it’s “the next one,” the novel you’re working on right now. That’s the book that you have to focus on. That’s the one that you have to make shine for your critics and your fans.
I noticed years ago that if you write a great first novel, the critics will go crazy about it. You may get dozens of reviews in major magazines, generate a huge amount of word-of-mouth publicity, and even find yourself in the hunt for awards. But if your second book is weaker, if your readers suspect that you’re “taking a step backwards,” your readership will dissipate.
Instead of having a dozen critics arguing about how great you are, no one will review your second novel. They’ll assume that your first success was just a fluke, and they’ll abandon you—as will your readers.
On the other hand, if you really work hard to deliver something special in your second book, the critics will recognize that you’re someone who must be watched. The critics and fans will begin seeking out your work, wondering what you’ll deliver next.
By the time that you reach your third book, if it too shows improvement, you’ll have proven it in the minds of your readers. You’ll have developed a reputation for consistently pushing the envelope, of being a quality writer—not just a quantity writer.
You need to maintain and build a pattern of success.
That’s why the most important novel you’ll ever write is the one you’re working on right now. You can never deliver a second-rate effort.
At the same time, you shouldn’t let yourself get too stressed about any book. Too much stress can damage your creativity. You have to learn to apply a generous amount of effort consistently, always seeking out new ways to deepen your stories and dazzle readers.
When you’re a writer, every day can feel just a bit like it is your own personal Super Bowl Sunday.
Patrick Chiles is an incredible author, and one that I’ve had the great pleasure of working with. His first novel for Baen Books, FROZEN ORBIT, was released last month. It is one definitely worth checking out especially if you are a sci-fan!
Here’s the link:
Runelord’s Board Game
If you or someone you know loves to play board games, then I’ve got excellent news! I’ve been collaborating with Red Djinn Productions to create a board game based on my best selling fantasy series The Runelords. It is now available for backing on Kickstarter and it looks amazing! You can back it here: bit.ly/therunelords.
Life, The Universe, and Everything
I’ll be teaching a one-day workshop called “Steps to Becoming a Bestseller” on February 12 at Life, The Universe, and Everything.
You will need to click on register and scroll down the page to see the information.
Creating the Perfect Cast
I’m putting on a workshop called “Creating the Perfect Cast.”
This workshop will be held from Thursday, Feb 27 through Saturday Feb 29, 2020 in Provo, Utah. Check it out here: http://mystorydoctor.com/live-workshops-2/