6 Things Writing a Second Novel Taught Me

1. One novel written does not an expert make. It might be my second novel but, to quote a friend, it’s the first time I’ve written that particular book. There are new characters to develop. New plot problems to sort through. New settings to describe. In short, the experience you thought you got from writing that first novel can quickly fade away in the face of this new set of issues.

Marybeth is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Baird won.)



Guest column by Marybeth Whalen, author of
She Makes It Look Easy (June 2011, DCC Books).
Her first novel, The Mailbox, was released in 2010.
Additionally, she is a member of the Proverbs 31
Ministries writing team, a nationwide speaker to
women’s groups, a wife, and mother of six children.
See her website here or her blogs on

2. Being published will not solve all your problems and give your life meaning. It’s only as you labor to write that second novel that you realize that’s like telling a married person “Oh you’re married now. All your problems are over…” Nope. On the contrary. Publishinglike marriageisn’t the ending of something. It’s just the beginning.

3. This novel-writing adventure can take you to some amazing places and introduce you to some inspiring people. What a difference to be writing the second novel while having some of those experiences and associating with those people. The second novel taught me that writing the first novel alonewhile necessarywasn’t nearly as fun as writing in community.

4. You still want to find the nearest tall building to leap off when your edits come back. And you will still go to your spouse and ask if there’s any way possible to give that advance back. You don’t outgrow that with experience. You can still feel just as incompetent as you did with your first novel.

5. You actually know some stuff. You’re better than you were when you wrote that first novel. Maybe not at everything you want to be better at. But you’ve made progress. And you’re going to keep learning with every book you write.

6. This writing thing really is a whole lot of fun.
Pursuing your dream never gets old.

Marybeth is excited to give
away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within one week;
winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You
can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Baird won.)

Agent Donald Maass’s books on writing
novels have sold tens of thousands of
copies. You can pick up 2 of his books
at 1 discount price here.


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16 thoughts on “6 Things Writing a Second Novel Taught Me

  1. jack everett

    Marybeth has learned some hard truths early in her career but they become all the better for being aired. They strengthen ones faith in the dark times that all writers go through. Keep it up, the writing and the interviews it’s worth it.

  2. Karyne Corum

    This was just the sort of excellent and insightful help I needed as I face finishing my first ms and getting ready to launch into my next one. Because while I"m sending my first born out into the cold, cruel world and awaiting news of it’s success or failure, I need to keep busy!

  3. Carrie

    I love reading all the wonderful blogs who are involved with Proverbs 31 Ministry. The women are amazing. I would love a free copy of your book, as I have already decided this is a good book for me and every time I read about it and see it, I am pulled towards it – which I think could be a sign from above. Thank you

  4. Donna Heaney

    Marybeth, It has been a privilege watching your journey from homeschool mom to author. And thank you for always having time to answer my questions. You helped me so much when I first started homeschooling and when my time comes to write, I know you’ll be there. So thank you! 🙂 I wish your new book so much success!!

  5. elizabeth park

    Thank you for your wonderful insight about publishing, like marriage, being the beginning, and not the end. Wonderful. Elizabeth Park

  6. Art Rosch

    Chuck, this blog is the single most important resource I have.
    I find new agents to query and can share other writers’ experiences.
    I’m also thrilled at your success!

    Art Rosch

  7. Valerie Norris

    I love the comparison to marriage! Yes, I’ve heard that getting a novel published will not solve all my problems. But it would solve the problem of not yet having sold a novel.

    Thanks for this, and continued good luck and success with your writing!


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