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Second Album Syndrome, First Drafts and Having a Break.

Hello everyone.  It’s been a while. That is because I’ve been busy with work, writing, reading and well life but yesterday afternoon at about 4.30pm, I typed two beautiful words.  The End. There was a deep sigh of relief, the birds scattered and the sun broke through the clouds and filled my garden with light and then there was the sudden realisation that this was the easy bit.  You see, I had only completed the first draft of my second book, provisionally called ‘The Dating Pool, and that the hard work was yet to come.  And then there was the panic of ‘what if its rubbish?’, “what if it’s not a worth successor to ‘The Sisters’ and the ‘What the hell have I done?’

Thankfully the panic only lasted for a minute or two but then it got me thinking of ‘Second Album Syndrome.’   When I think about a sequel that is better than the first,  from the top of my head, I can only think of one, The Godfather Part 2, which is outstanding and far exceeds its predecessor. It happens to every creative person. Second album syndrome is a dark mist that covers you and is accompanied by an unhelpful mantra that your second book, album etc will not live up to the standards set by it’s predecessor.

Even though I had a plan and a chapter outline, which should have made this book writing lark a breeze. It didn’t, because in the back of my head I kept thinking, how the hell did I do it with book one, The Sisters.  The fact is when you’re writing your first book or your first short story, there is no pressure on you.  There is no expectations.  You’re still undecided whether your completed book will sit idly in a secret folder on your laptop, whether you will be submitting it to every agent under the sun or if you will be hitting the publishing button yourself and releasing it to the world on Kindle.  There is an unbridled sense of freedom when writing your first book which you do not have with book 2.  With book 2 there are expectations.  Not only from yourself but your fans, reviewers, friends and family.  They want to know whether or not you can do it again or were you just a one hit wonder.  You’re probably yourself sitting there wondering how on earth did I create these characters last time, where did that that plot twist come from and the list goes on and on.  

What I realised when I was writing book 2, and it felt like it was taking me a year and day to complete just one chapter, was that I had to stop overthinking it.  I had to go back to basics and just write. That’s the beauty of a first draft.  It does not have to be perfect.  In fact, knowing that it will not be perfect, knowing that I’m not going to stick to the plan gives you a freedom to write without the pressure of second album syndrome looming over you.

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Whilst I was printing out my copy of ‘The Dating Pool’  I was hunting around in my filing cabinet and I came across the original chapter plan for the first and second drafts of my first book ‘The Sisters’.  What I have written in those pages just about scratch the surface of the final product and It was seeing those pages that again made me realise that there was no pressure and that I just had to write because no matter how you get there, you will ultimately get there.

So, what am I doing now that the draft one of ‘The Dating Pool’ is complete. Well, it’s going to sit on top of my filing cabinet and I’m not going to touch it for a month.  Even though I’m not  strictly speaking writing a sequel, I am writing my second book and I can categorically state right now that the first draft of my book will never see the light of day.  Never.  The first draft of my book is the bare bones of what will be my final book.  One of my writing tips is to always take a break from your work.  Whether it’s for a week, or a fortnight or six months, when you go back to it, you will read your work with fresh eyes and an unsaturated brain and you will take absolute pleasure in ripping your work apart, revising, editing and sculpting your book into its final masterpiece.

david

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