Dear Sherry: Experienced but Intimidated

Dear Sherry,

I’m a relatively experienced writer, and I’m on the downward slope of my planned book series. But there’s always room for new problems with such an expansive project. Now, I feel like I’ve run out of the “easy” ideas. I still love my characters, and I still love my world, but I know that I need to keep increasing the tension. While I have some thoughts of where to go next for the final books in the series, I’m terrified that my writing ability won’t do justice to the complexity of the ideas or the difficulty of the themes. At the same time, I know it’d just be a cop out to keep writing the same things over and over. Any advice at this point would be helpful!

Experienced but Intimidated

Photo Credit: Concord90

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Dear Experienced,

You’re worried that you don’t have the skill to, in your words, “do justice to the complexity of the ideas or the difficulty of the themes.” Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. The thing is, you won’t know until you try.

Every story we write is an opportunity to learn something new about the craft and to grow. As babies, as we prepare to take our first steps, we’re not sure we can, we just know we want to. It isn’t until we put one foot in front of the other, without holding onto anything, that we realize we can walk. Everything you’ve been learning and doing as a writer up to this point has been preparing you for this, much like crawling and standing and holding onto someone’s hands while taking their first steps prepares babies to learn to walk on their own. Just like all the years of grade school prepares you for graduating and starting college.

What happens if you try and you find you don’t have the skills or ability?

Embrace the challenge, don’t run from it. If you find that what you are writing isn’t to the level you need it to be, figure out what is causing the deficit, and learn how to fix it. You know best what your story needs to be, you know best what you need to get there. If you need to do deeper research than you’ve ever done, do it. Find those people you need to interview, or what you need from the archives, and get the information you need. If it is an aspect of the craft of writing, like description or dialogue or point of view, then find the resources to help you develop that skill.

You know that you will be much happier with the final product if you embrace that challenge and use it as a chance to grow as a writer. You might just surprise yourself with how skilled you already are.

I wonder, though, if that’s your real concern. Is it really that you don’t have the ability? Or is it that you don’t want to spend the time it would take to write the best story possible?

At some point, all of us get tired of our characters and our worlds. It doesn’t mean we don’t love them, or that we won’t enjoy writing about them in the future. It just means we’re tired of them. A fatigue of the world and the characters sets in, and we just want to be done for a while. When that happens, it is really tempting to go the easy route and not make their stories as good as they could be, but just good enough to get by.

I get the feeling taking a break from this series isn’t an option for you. Use this challenge as a means of falling in love with a different aspect of your characters and world, the series, and with the writing process itself. Love the development of your skills and of the story. Enjoy the chance to make it the best it can possibly be.

Creatively yours, Sherry


Sherry Peters“Dear Sherry” is an opportunity to ask for advice on writer’s/creativity block, time management, the process of writing, and more. Sherry Peters is a Certified Life Coach who works with writers at all stages of their writing career looking to increase their productivity through pushing past the self-doubt holding them back. Her fiction has won the Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-book award, and been nominated for the Aurora Award, Canada’s top prize for Speculative fiction.

If you could ask a writing coach anything, here is your chance! Send her an e-mail at coachsherry@sherrypeters.com.

1 Comment

  • Shara White July 7, 2017 at 8:56 am

    There’s something to be said, too, about planned length of a series. Think of a television show. You hear showrunners talk all the time about knowing how it ends, but if the show is successful, the network will keep renewing and renewing, which means you get stories that may or may not be gearing towards the end (aka, stories that could be spinning the wheels). I remember when Lost announced its end date at the halfway mark of season three, things suddenly got TIGHT in season 4 and beyond, whereas before, some of the stories we’d been getting felt a bit meandering.

    The point: if you’re writing a series, but you don’t know how many books there are in the series and you’re afraid of writing the end, maybe that’s a sign it’s TIME to write the end, because you’re spinning your wheels otherwise? This way, you can figure out how many books you need to tell the final arc, and that in and of itself may renew your passion and give you the excitement and confidence you need to do the story justice.

    Reply

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