#SeasonSerious2016: Sophomore Hi-jinx

Since I didn’t do all the milestone posts as things were happening–book title reveal, book cover reveal, etc.–I thought it would be fun to do a series of blog posts on special topics relating to The Season for Getting Serious release to help readers get acquainted with it. 

The Season for Getting Serious Front Cover

Do you ever find yourself getting so far ahead of the process in your mind you begin to resent the process?

Everyone has heard of the sophomore jinx. If your first book or album is successful, the pressure to release something even better can cause sophomore jitters, which inevitably become sophomore slumps. The second project fails to live up to the high bar set by the first. Whether nerves, going in a new creative direction, the genre fading in popularity, or the fact you aren’t the new kid on the block anymore, sometimes second efforts tank.

Some artists are disappointed with their second efforts because they know better. When I released Altered before the Altar, I didn’t have any expectations. I wasn’t expecting people to buy it or love it. But they did.

I was told topping Altered would be difficult because it was so good. People had expectations of my work now. I had to deliver.

The weight of these expectations made me jump ahead of the process. This did nothing but slow me down. I was so concerned about the perception of my second book, it crippled me. I knew if I ever wanted to write, let alone publish, a second book, I had to do something different.

What did I do to get over the jitters and write my second book?

  • I interviewed people.  Talking with people about the book’s topics helped me organize my thoughts, see the topic from another’s perspective, and gave me gems of wisdom to sprinkle throughout my work.
  • I used my digital recorder. I wanted to keep the conversational tone of my first book. Instead of building the tone in later, I started with it by recording myself talking through each chapter. I got the tone I wanted and the passion and urgency of the message came through. I used the recorder while on my commute to and from work and was able to use time I usually “lost” each day.
  • I had a focus question. I shared my focus question in yesterday’s post. The focus of The Season for Getting Serious was built around my answer to this question. Having a focus brought everything together. I cut anything which didn’t serve this purpose.
  • I kept a cutting room floor document. Knowing my beautiful prose could be retrieved if I changed my mind helped me cut unnecessary passages.
  • I approached the book like a student first.  I studied each topic as if it were new to me. I used different methods and reread the material  until I saw things I never saw before. I developed a deeper understanding of each subject. I had to change huge chunks of my first draft, but it made the book stronger.
  • I lost it–literally. Confession time: I lost my book while writing it. Twice. This taught me to back up everything in triplicate. More importantly, it taught me the true value of what I was writing and where it came from. I could recreate much of what I’d written, but the passages I love the most were in the moment revelations and nudges from the Holy Spirit. I felt like the Spirit spoke through me and to me in those moments. I trusted God would give me the words he wanted me to say if I had to rewrite it, but I was so appreciative when I found it. I know these are the words God wanted women to hear.
  • I wrote the book I needed to read. I didn’t listen to those clamoring for a follow up to Altered. I ignored my own desire to write a book that could be used in ladies’ classes, book clubs, and life groups. I studied the topics God pressed on my heart to help me in my walk with Him. By seeking Him first, I wrote a book the woman who came away from Altered wanting a deeper relationship with Christ could dive into. I wrote a book that can be used for individual or group study by women at all different stages of life. I need  every word of this book, and I know other women do, too.

It’s too soon to say if I beat the sophomore jinx, but I surpassed all my expectations for my sophomore release. I took my writing to the next level with this book. I have the confidence in the abilities God gave me to do it again. I feel like I’ve finally fully embraced my calling as a writer and speaker, and I can’t wait to see how God uses my gifts for His glory in this new season.

XOXO,

Erica

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