Ten years is a long time to be working on a book series. One set of characters. One world.
During those ten years I’ve moved cities, had several different positions in the company I work for, grown our family by three kids, traveled, lived life. My pace for writing and publishing was slower than other authors and I was okay with that.
But now I’ve finished the last book in my series. I’ve completed my characters’ stories. The plot is done. My book is out with Beata readers as I type this and I’m planning on publishing it (and relaunching the series) later this year and early into next. Once I hit that publish button, I’m done with The Corporation, Ethan, and Karis. I’m done with the Further and the Inner and Outer Cities. I’m done.
Am I ready for that?
How do I move on after being in the same project for so long? What do I do next?
These may be questions that you’ve also asked yourself after finishing a series or a project that you’ve been working on; it doesn’t matter if you’ve only been invested in them for a month or a decade, as authors we always pour 200% into what we’re doing, so stepping away and coming up for air can be a jarring experience.
I’m going to share with you a little about my journey and what is helping me move on from a storyline and world that I’ve lived in for most of my writing career and hopefully help you through your transition if you’re finding it a little harder than you thought it would be.
When I realized I was ending this chapter of my writing life, I was excited to start something new. But that excitement was quickly overtaken by a wave of nervousness. All of these questions started bubbling up out of nowhere:
What if I can’t get inside the heads of my new characters? What if I can’t even come up with new characters?
Can I make this new voice distinctive enough from Project X?
I’ve been too long in Project X, is my next idea going to be fresh enough?
What does the industry even look like, now? What are the writing styles or story trends or …?
Have I trapped myself in the style/trope/genre of Project X?
Do I have more than one story in me?
How do I say goodbye to my old project?
How do I even start?
OH MY GOSH, I’VE FORGOTTEN HOW TO START!!
Or maybe you’re like, “Heck yes! I’m so ready to start a new story! LET’S DO THIS!” And that’s great, too. To be honest, half the time, that’s my brain. The other half of the time, it’s a little more feeble.
When you’re coming off one project and wanting to start another, a writer is probably going to be in one of two camps:
1. Jumping right in
2. Taking a break
For me, I’m taking a small transitional break. I find I do better when I take about a week or two to organize my brain and life before jumping into something different. If that’s you, great! If not, also great! Do what you know works for you as a writer and with what fits into your life schedule.
But after my break, I think I’ll be ready. I’ve pep-talked my way through the above doubts and will be ready (and excited) to move on. Like most writers, I have a notebook on hand (and only when I’m desperate, a notes app on my phone) where I keep track of ideas that come to mind at any given moment. During my break, I’ll be revisiting my red notebook, looking into my different ideas and following that pull towards that one idea that stands out a little bit more than all the rest. As I marinate it, I keep adding ideas and thoughts. I make a playlist for how I want it to feel. This will be the next project I want to start (right now, it’s Vikings).
When I take my break, it’s not that I’m not writing at all, it’s more like a relaxed prep period before I go all in. For example, my next project: I’m watching movies and TV shows about Vikings (because let’s admit it, they’re awesome). I’m also reading and researching their history, geography, and culture. I’m reading books about their mythology and looking at what other fiction books are out there about the topic. I’m listening to SO. MUCH. MUSIC. (Feel free to check out my playlist). When I get a good idea in my mind about the direction I want to take, when that seed of the story is starting to develop a little more, that’s when I go hard core.
During this time, I’m reflecting on the writing process of the project I left behind and identifying the areas I didn’t like and what I want to try instead. Didn’t like your writing system last time? This is a great way to shake it up; to try something different.
Want to do a book bible this time around? Fantastic.
What to try a new writing software?
Get a critique partner? Join a group? Awesome.
How about the length of your novels? Do you want to shorten them up so you can get more out in a year? Get it!
How about trying a new way to outline? Or fly by the seat of your pants? Both can work!
Did you like how that one author did that one thing? Give it a whirl and see if it works for you.
Want to get more into the scientific structural aspects of writing? Do your research and learn.
Hey, want to revamp your author platform? Do it.
Heck, revisit your trunk novels.
Ending a project you’ve been working on for a long time is a fresh start, a new launch pad. A great opportunity to approaching your next project in a completely different way. You can do things new and that’s exciting.
The important thing to keep in mind is that there is no right or wrong way to get into a new story after so long on an old one. Only you can write it the way you can. As writers, we can’t force something that isn’t us. Only you will know what will work for you in this current moment of your life. Outline and write a bit to see if you’re grabbed by it. Start writing. It could be that you pick your next project and you find yourself being pulled in a different direction. Sometimes what you’ve picked works, sometimes it doesn’t and you need to pick something else up. And that’s okay.
The most exciting part of this new chapter is that you get to rediscover your love for the craft of storytelling all over again, and that’s something you can look forward to each time you start a new project.
Sometimes, when we’ve been writing on the same project for so long, writing becomes a chore. Another job. We forget why we fell in love with it in the first place. We forget about the magic and excitement that writing offers us.
It’s normal to have fears when we start something new. It’s normal to have fears when we’re doing something we’ve done a dozen times before. Writing is an extremely intimate process. The important thing is that you get in there and do it. Find other writers out there who support and encourage you. Bond with those that genuinely want to see you succeed. Creating that support system around you can make all the difference, at times.
So, what are you waiting for? Get writing, and we’ll see you in The Writer Community.
Meet RaeLynn Fry
Rachel loves all things Young Adult. She writes and reads in multiple genres...as long as it’s YA. Her current dystopian series, The Corporation Series (Caste, Outcast, The Heir), is available now with the last installment coming out in 2021.
She lives in Idaho with her husband and two kiddos. She loves coffee, music, dance, the outdoors, and a good handbag and pair of shoes. And she is still in search of the perfect scary movie. You can follow RaeLynn on Instagram @RaeLynnFry or visit her website raelynnfryauthor.com to learn more about her and her books.