So you've written a book. Now what?
After publishing "When the Stars Fade," I found myself starting a familiar habit: procrastination. After all, I had just labored intensely to put out a full-length novel. I had coordinated the cover-art, marketing and distribution across multiple channels, all without the help of a traditional publisher.
And, after all of that, I had no idea what to do next.
Obviously, I needed to write the next book. I had momentum coming off the first title, and that added push could help propel through the intense creative process, shortening the gestation period by a huge factor.
Write, I did not.
Instead, I studied my sales reports, focused on anything else, and let the book gather dust. It was, in every sense, the wrong approach.
When I finally returned to the universe to create more, I found my skills had dulled from lack of use. Like anything, writing takes practice and grows stronger with application. The months off, few though they may have been, left me struggling to put words back down on paper.
Looking back, I regret not moving into the next book immediately. The lost time, and momentum, can never be replaced. More than that, I second-guess my decisions in this new draft and constantly recheck the first book to ensure I'm staying true to the tone and character of the original. I wouldn't have those issues if I had just moved directly into the sophomore story.
So what does this come back to? WRITE ALL THE TIME.
Every author and screenwriter worth their salt will tell you the same. You need to be writing every minute of every day. You need to collect your thoughts in a journal or diary and follow-through with everything. You never know which idea is going to strike gold, so don't discount those crazy threads. Tug on the and see what is on the other side.
More than that, you need to treat writing as a career if you ever hope to have a career in writing. There is no better way to improve at a task than by doing said task.
Here's an exercise for you. Go out and buy a journal. It's six bucks, you can live without than mocha-frappe-latte-extra-foam-no-crack. Buy a nice pen and keep the two together, and on you, at all times. Keep the journal by the bed at night and take it to work every day. Every single thought that pops into your head (and by "thought," I mean story idea), WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN.
At the end of a week, look at the journal. How many ideas are in there? Now go through and sort. How many are good?
IT'S A TRICK QUESTION! THEY ARE ALL GOOD.
Now, take any idea that interests you can write a one-page synopsis of the story. It will take some doing, but force it out. Now take one of the ideas you think is absolute garbage. Write the one-sheet.
How do they look now?
I promise you will be surprised at what is able to come out of your head, but more importantly, you will be writing. Even just capturing your thoughts is enough.
Learn from my mistakes, people. Now go write something.