The most terrifying question you can ask a writer


“Sooo, what’s your next book?”

I remember the first time I was asked this. It was just after Awaiting a Savior came out, and I’ll be honest—I loved it. I’m not sure why, but there was just something so cool about getting asked this. Suddenly I was a real-live author and people wanted to know what I was going to do next.

I didn’t realize how intimidating a question this could be.

See, at the time, I already had another idea for a book, one eventually realized in Contend. So it was cool to be able to say, “Well actually, I’ve got another book in the works already…”

Then the question started coming again.

Only there’s a small problem:

I have no idea what the next book is going to be.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas for different subjects—I’ve got a pile of half-started outlines. But it’s different this time. There seems to be this unexpected pressure that there is going to be a next book that isn’t necessarily coming from me (at least, I hope it isn’t), which can lead to a bit of anxiety:

  • “Should I be working on something now?”
  • “What if I can’t think of anything valuable to say every again?”
  • “What if I do pitch something and no one likes it? *WAAAAAAAH!*”

On and on the spiral goes…

I never realized how terrifying the question “what’s your next book” can be until my answer became, “I dunno.”

But in a weird way, I’m glad.

When you write the same kind of work all the time, it can get a bit stale if you’re not careful. Because our minds love routine, our work can become safe.

One of the things I realized after writing Contend is I need to try to do something different.

Like really, really different.

So I decided to try something new. I’m going to try my hand at a children’s book for my wife to illustrate.

She’s incredibly talented and turned down many of the “I can’t pay you now, but can promise you fame and fortune beyond your wildest dreams” offers from other prospective storybook authors. Yet for some reason, she didn’t turn down mine.

What will come of this project? Who knows. We might try to have it published, we might self-publish or it might just end up in a folder on our iMac at the house (that said, any publishers out there who want to talk about such a project, let me know). For me, this is a way to take the terror of not having an answer for what my next book is and turn it into an opportunity—and most importantly, to do something fun with my wife, who sacrificed a lot during the writing of both of my previous efforts.

2 thoughts on “The most terrifying question you can ask a writer”

  1. I can relate. I feel like perhaps I caught lightning in a bottle (so to speak) the first time and best not push it. 🙂

    A children’s book sounds interesting! Blessings to you and Emily as you work on that.

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