Considering big changes

My writing journey over the last few years has been very much up and down. It was a great feeling to publish my first book, and then a few more after that. But it has also been a struggle looking at meager sales and mixed reviews. In retrospect, there are a lot of things I would change if I could do it all over again.

When I first decided to put all my series in a shared world, it seemed like a great idea. I love Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere after all. But as I’ve written, I’ve realized that I’ve allowed things to become too complex. This is mostly due to the fact that I’ve written most of my books with very little planning.

That’s the biggest thing I think I need to change. No doubt it’s fun to write by the seat of your pants, but I think it is holding me back (both in terms of quality and quantity). I’ve always been more of a big picture person, so this approach has run counter to my nature. I’m focusing on the immediate scene I’m writing instead of keeping the bigger picture in mind. Too often, when I don’t know what comes next, I just throw in a random action scene. While action scenes are fun, I think I need to remember that there’s a lot more to crafting a good story than writing whatever fun action scene comes to mind in the moment.

Overall, I still like what I’ve written, but it’s hard to look at it and not see the same flaws readers are pointing out to me. A lot of these flaws come from impatience. I didn’t want to sit down and plot out the story. I didn’t want to spend time making sure my characters were more fleshed out. I wanted to get to the good stuff. That might have worked for me because I knew the worlds and the characters so well, but it’s clearly not working for some readers, and that’s what really matters.

So now I’m caught in a place where I’m trying to figure out the best way to approach the rest of my writing career. Thankfully, I am now in a place with my day job situation where I no longer feel any pressure to look at writing as a significant source of income. This is giving me the chance to take a step back and evaluate where I really want to take things. There’s a part of me that wants to take the books I already have out and rework them with my new approach.

There’s also a part of me worried that I’m just experiencing a period of doubt. I do think it would probably be best for me to step back from the project I’m working on right now because it’s exhibiting all the elements of my writing that I’m finding problematic. I still love it, but I just don’t think it’s where it needs to be for me to take the next step with my writing career.

One of the big things I’m considering is relaunching my career under a pen name. I would probably just go by initials. If I did go this route, I would likely relaunch all the books I’ve already published, with significant changes (likely complete rewrites). It sounds like a daunting task, but if my new approach of greater planning allows me to write faster, it won’t be as much of an issue as I expect.

Regardless, I do think I’m going to start planning some new series to work on. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head, and some planning would help me get them to a place where I can write them. I just need to remember to be patient with myself at first. I won’t be able to write the stories immediately, but once I do write them, all the planning I’m doing will make the writing go much more smoothly.