Writing the second novel is hard

As Ernest Hemingway once famously said:

The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.

Ernest Hemingway

Writing the second novel is more painful than I expected

I must say that I haven‘t fully realized that fact until I started working on my second novel.
Don‘t get me wrong, writing my first novel was hard; it took me two years to finish it, another year to translate it, and yet two additional years to edit the translation and publish it but I have a feeling that writing it was much easier than the second one.

Maybe it‘s just a delusion and the fact that something is in the past and doesn‘t bother me anymore might give me the false impression of being less difficult, but it doesn‘ change the fact that writing the second novel is hard.

The basic idea for my second novel was present in my head for a long time and I thought that this time, I might do it without an outline because I already have one novel behind me.

It didn’t seem so bad at the beginning

The start went surprisingly well; I was writing the first draft in my usual pace of 500 words per day, six days in a week and I shared it on a daily basis to my friends and my wife (then my girlfriend). The instant feedback, which I was getting from my alpha readers, threw away the stuff which didn‘t get positive feedback, but most of the stuff was good and people were eagerly waiting for the next page.

And then – it just stopped; out of the blue

The things were getting worse and worse. I tried to rewrite the whole thing which had around 50,000 words, did it once, and I was still stuck in the same scene; I just couldn‘t move forward. I tried rearranging things; it didn‘t help.

Then, I decided to take a break and focus on something else

Reading became the first priority and I started digesting the books about the craft of writing until I ran into the famous How to Write a Novel Using a Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson. This book gave me a great insight about Outlining novels and creating a character; something that I did instinctively in the first novel, but I‘m not sure if I did it well; that‘s on the readers to decide. Then, I thought, let‘s outline my novel and maybe that will unblock me. And, I did it. And it worked. For some time. Then it stopped again.

What did I do after failing again?

Well, I read more and more books on writing and then I decided to slow down a little bit and take time to make a better outline and take writing more like a game in general. My personal belief is that I cannot write without a proper outline. I tried and I failed. But also, I mustn‘t rush through outlining; it takes time to make a really good outline although it can fit on a single page.

Perhaps writing the second novel is also hard because of the constantly present pressure to make it better than the first one. While writing the first novel I didn‘t have anything to compete with, but now I have a strong desire to make the second one way much better and whenever I see it failing in comparison to the previous one, I feel like all my efforts are worthless. It is difficult to see yourself failing, year after year, but I am not giving up and I really want to finish my novel and not just that, I also want to make it good.

How many novels have you written so far? What was the most difficult one for you to write? Please, leave your answers in the comment‘s section below.