Push Your Boulder Up that Hill

In Greek mythology, the king Sisyphus was punished by having to eternally push a boulder up a hill. When he reached the top, the boulder rolled to the bottom and he had to push it up once again. Over and over and over again.

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Sometimes writing feels like that. We start our book rolling, struggling through those first couple of chapters to overcome inertia, the forces (whether they are doubt or our struggles with beginnings) that hold us back. We build momentum, rolling along at a good clip, until we get stuck. We’ve pushed our boulder into a dead end. We have to let it roll partway back down the hill in order to pick a new path.

Still we push on. We grind out that word count, plugging away at whatever goal we set for our self that day. Finally, after months or years or decades, we push that boulder the last step. We cheer. We collapse on the ground. We actually visit our friends and family and smile because we have time, glorious time.

Only to realize that sometime during our celebrating, our boulder rolled back down the hill. We need to start the process all over again, whether it is editing or starting the next book.

Somehow it isn’t any easier pushing that boulder up the hill than it was the first time. The beautiful momentum we’d built those last few yards to the top is all gone. Inertia is just as terrible. We moan in despair. We can’t believe we are putting ourselves through this again.

That’s us writers. We are a little bit insane. We’ve gone crazy a few times.

But this isn’t our punishment. It is our blessing. We have a gift not everyone has. Few people have the muscles or the perseverance to push the boulder of a book all the way to the finish. Even less do it again and again.

Today I started book three of my Blades of Acktar series today. It is overwhelming starting at the bottom once again, staring at the mountain of words I need to type. But I’ll get there. I’ve done this twice before. I can do it again.

What project are you working on? Where are you at in your book?

Also, I am giving away a copy of Nadine Brandes’ new release¬†A Time to Die.¬†Enter the giveaway here.

Book Two Blues

Maybe more experienced writers have less trouble with this. Perhaps practice makes it easier. I’m not sure. But in my experience so far, book two in the series I’m working on has been much harder to write than book one. While I became stuck a couple of times in book one, the scenes pushed to be written. When I arrived at the climax, I could barely concentrate that whole week with the urge to write nonstop.

Book two has been a completely different writing experience altogether. From the first word, I have had to work to get the words to come. My word count has slowed to a crawl because I spend twice as much time laboring over the words than I did on book one. I am currently at the climax and all I can do is stare at the page unable to force a word to come out.

Part of the trouble is that book two is more intense than book one. In book one, I introduced the characters and began their character and physical journeys. They were pushed, but not with the amount of difficulties I throw at them in book two. At times, the scenes became so intense I had to stop writing because I was beginning to get sick to my stomach or cry along with the characters. I had to walk away for a while to catch my breath.

I don’t have a lot of experience writing sequels. I wrote several sequels years ago, back before I knew much about writing and they were never longer than about 30k words. This current sequel is the first full-length sequel I’ve ever tackled.

Do more experienced writers struggle with writing book two? Have any of you experienced the same feeling with book two?