What? There's No Secret Formula?

We blog a lot here about our process and things that have worked or not worked for us as we travel along this journey, and as you can tell from reading our different perspectives, there are many ways to write a book, and what works for one person may not work for someone else.  I get that. But what never occurred to me is that there is more than one way for me to write a book.

I guess I thought that once you wrote a book, at least once you wrote a book that was published, then you'd know how to write a book, and the next one would be easier.  Like there's some secret formula that you discover that you can use over and over.  

There's not.

Cue the rage.

You mean the second book is just as hard to write as the first?  HARDER?

Okay, but the third one, by that one, I'll know what I'm doing right?  I'll have learned the SECRET to writing a novel.

Nope.  Not even close.

There is no secret formula for writing a book.  There are tools we can learn to use, structures that help us shape the plot, story elements we can incorporate, but every story has it's own journey from inception to ever after.  And like every journey, a story has it's own obstacles and conflict before we get to the eventual resolution.  Some obstacles are easier to overcome than others, but I am increasingly certain that it's those obstacles that make the journey worthwhile.

Let's be honest. None of us want to write a formulaic book.  None of us want to write the same story over and over again. And as much as I'd love for a perfect first draft to magically spring from my fingertips (C'mon Bret, surely you've developed a product for that by now), it's the time, pain and bloodletting involved in the writing process that make the final product so satisfying.

For every day where opening the document feels like an insurmountable task, there is another where I can't get the characters out of my head.  For every day that it takes me six hours to scrape together 600 words, there is a day where a scene appears on the page out of nowhere that is so perfect and surprising that it makes me fall in love with the story all over again.  For every moment that I hate writing, there are a hundred more where I wonder how I ever survived without it. 

Writing is hard.  It doesn't get easier.  But maybe that's just art's way of making sure we don't take it for granted.  Maybe it's art's way of telling us that we are more than the sum of our parts.

And we are.  We are writers. 


Oh, that's good! "maybe that's just art's way of making sure we don't take it for granted." I like that.

So you mean they way you wrote Silver
such as Outlining then filing in the details or however you wrote it, is not the way you wrote the sequel? Yikes! I thought once you got your style down, you would be set.

But I have read and heard that the second book is even harder than the first book. Veronica Roth had a great article on it way before Insurgent came out. It might have been last summer. It never would have occurred to me that the second would be harder but I do understand, have to keep everything correct from the first book, world, characters, remember what happened, don't duplicate, don't get ahead of the story or leave anything out yet pull the action forward. Sheesh, I'm still working on scenes, I haven't even tried to pull those together!

You can do it though. But maybe Bret does have a magic potion or something. Though it's kind of cheating art, like you said, "taking it for granted." "Art" makes you work hard! But I believe it's worth it.


The paragraph that begins "For every day..." - I think I'll print that out and stick it on my desk! So inspiring, so true.


My writing process has been different for every project. I will use the same tools but in different ways. Sometimes I think I have the story figured out, but iI am nowhere close.More recently, I despaired that I had no story, but the first draft came out okay.

This honestly came at a perfect time for me. Sometimes it's just so hard to plow through a certain scene and you want to give up. But then sometimes there are those brilliant moments where you get so pumped and excited and writing becomes a great joy.

Thanks :)


Just look back to everything the YA Muses have written. You can find inspiration for a story anywhere. I think you'll always have a story. It's just sometimes belief that you can do it. Must have been scary there though for awhile.


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