There comes a time in every writer’s life when you have to sit back and do some serious soul-searching in regards to your writing. Where are you now? Are you happy where you are? Are you happy writing what you’re writing? Or have you discovered that your writing has taken an unexpected turn somewhere along the way?
I had one of these “mid-life” writing crises early on in my career. When I first started out writing, I wrote Regency-set historicals. Historicals were all I read; it was all I knew. I spent two years writing the infamous “book of your heart”. Then my laptop got stolen, and with it my writing and all my dreams of being a writer.
So I made the decision not to write anymore. That lasted for an entire year before I realized that I could not stop writing. If you’re a writer, it’s in your blood.
So I sat down and re-evaluated my writing. Where was I? Was I happy? I was at a crossroad and I really wasn’t happy. Two years on a book that never got completed? I couldn’t sell if I continued writing that way. I was bogged down with the research and often got lost in it because I enjoyed learning so much. So I decided to try something new. I took a jab at writing a contemporary erotica novella for a contest. Finished the novella in three months.
I learned several things from this experience. First, I had fun writing something I usually didn’t write. Secondly, I discovered I was no erotica writer, though I do classify as a “sexy” writer. Third, I found out I could actually finish a story. Yay for me! And lastly (and most importantly), I finally found my voice. I had a strong historical voice which did not fit into a contemporary.
So I sat down and did some more re-evaluating. What did I really want to write? I still wanted to do historicals, but I also wanted to write contemporaries as well because I had a lot of fun doing it. I learned I was beginning to read more paranormals and fantasy romances. I loved vampires, but didn’t think the world needed another vampire writer. I also loved alternate settings. Think Lord of the Rings. So I decided I’d try my hand at that instead. With the help of my sister who was a huge science-fiction and fantasy fanatic, I created this complete alternate world that mirrored feudal Europe. I came complete with three Fates, seven kingdoms, and loads of dark magic and things that went bump in the night. I called this alternate world of mine Zenith.
The first book, THE PROPHECY, was completed in three months. It was a full 100,000 words manuscript. It was a time travel, which satisfied my craving for dabbing in contemporary while still being able to write primarily in a historical setting that didn’t require too much research since the world was completely made-up. The Prophecy came to final in several contests and landed me my first agent.
The second book, PRINCE OF DARKNESS, was completed within another three months. It continued the Zenith series and was strictly all historical fantasy. At this point, I was learning to explore the fantasy side of my creativity and truly enjoying myself. Prince of Darkness also finaled in several contests and was responsible for my American Title finalist status.
In the third book in the series, LEGACY OF THE HIGHLANDER, I went back to my time-traveling and historical roots. Something else I enjoyed immensely was reading Scottish medievals, so I gave that a shot with the third book. Finished Legacy of the Highlander in three months. That book also finaled in several contests. I enjoyed writing Scottish historical so much that I took a break from the Zenith series with my fourth book and wrote, HEART OF THE HIGHLANDER, a completed Scottish time-travel paranormal.
This was two years ago and several books later. Looking back, I can now say that was able to write three full 100,000 words books in a year because I kept it fun and continued to explore and add in new layers/elements to my writing. I was never bored with the process and made it enjoyable. And I took risks. I realized I was not happy where I was and needed a change, and I stepped outside of my comfort zone and allowed myself to explore all the different aspects of my creativity.
I’m hitting another “mid-life” crisis at the moment. I’m discovering that my writing is veering more towards the literary and women’s fiction side than actual romance. At the moment, I’m not certain where I’ll be a year from now in regards to my writing. What I do know is that I’ll explore this new channel and see what develops from it. For anyone facing their own “mid-life” writing crisis, my suggestion is to not dampen your creativity by ignoring what it’s trying to tell you. Listen to it. Know yourself, what makes you happy, and follow your intuition.
Hope this has been of help. Happy writing!