I've been writing for about 4.5 years now, which, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing. But over the course of producing 7.5 full-length manuscripts (damn, had to stop and double check that... has it really been that many? Also, the .5 is for the book I'm co-writing) plus a handful of shorts (novellas and short stories), I've discovered that I write on a cycle (insert period joke here). And here it is...
STAGE 1: Inspiration
"Oh my God, this is the best idea ever! My book is going to be brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, and all I want to do is brainstorm about all its awesomeness!" *spews ideas from fingertips into brainstorming doc*
STAGE 2: Paralyzing terror
"What am I doing?! I'm not worthy of writing this book! I can't do it! I'm not even a real writer? Why did I think I could pull this off?" *researches stuff like a crazy person* *scribbles elaborate backstories that will never end up in the actual book* *spends hours doing background reading on topics only marginally related to book* *analyzes character motivations and plot points* *refuses to actually write book*
STAGE 3: Get 'er done!
"OKAY, that's enough spewing random ideas! Let's hammer this thing into shape and write a BOOK!" *drinks beer* *types like a fury* *drinks more beer* *word-vomits all over the page, following outline developed while too terrified to actually write* *switches to wine* *cancels social life and scribbles an insane number of words*
STAGE 4: Procrastination
"Ugh, don't make me write this damn book. I can never live up to the idea I have in my head, and it's probably a terrible idea anyway. Ugh, but I already wrote so much, so I can't just give up. Ugh, but I don't wanna write... Don't make me write..." *spends hours doing nothing on Facebook* *watches terrible TV shows and movies that aren't even entertaining* *pets cat* *cleans the apartment* *stares blankly at wall*
STAGE 5: Flip-flopping
"DAMMIT I just wasted hours on Facebook! Let's write!" *scribbles lots and lots of words* "Ugh, I don't wanna write this damn book!" *wastes time on Facebook* "OH, THE GUILT! Gotta get some words written!" *word-vomits all over the manuscript* "Blaaaaah I hate everything! Don't make me write!" *binge-watches sitcoms* "Crap, crappity, crap, it's been days since I wrote and ages since I started... I just want this book to get written already!" *types like a madwoman* "Ugh, writing is hard... don't make me do it!" *goes online shopping*... and so on and so forth...
STAGE 6: Pit of despair
"WHAT AM I DOING?" *wails* "This book is CRAP! I've been working so hard, and all I've produced is CRAP!" *bangs head against wall* "Why am I even writing? There's a new e-book published every five minutes... the world doesn't need my effing book! It's terrible anyway!" *curls up into fetal position* "Why am I even doing this?! I'm working so hard to produce crap that no one wants to read!" *covers self in blanket and cries* "It's not fair! Why are all those other authors successful while no one cares what I write? What's the point of even finishing this book when no one is going to want it?!" *cries, cries, cries*
STAGE 7: Power through!
"OKAY, YOU KNOW WHAT? *I* WANT THIS BOOK! And I can't just leave it unfinished, so let's DO THIS THING!" *rage-types until the manuscript is finished*
STAGE 8: Obsession
"Wellp, I have a draft. But it's a Shitty First Draft, which means, by definition, that it is complete and utter shit. But I won't fall back into the Pit of Despair! I can fix it!" *reads through manuscript again and slashes entire scenes* *reads through again and smooths out clunky sentences* *reads through yet again and obsesses over every little word* *tries to step away but keeps thinking about that ONE SENTENCE* *reads through again and cuts the scene with that sentence* *tries to step away again but keeps thinking about THAT OTHER ONE SENTENCE*
STAGE 9: So over this book!
"Ugh, I'm so over this effing book! I don't think any of my futzing is even helping! I'm too close to it anyway and can't get any form of perspective, so I should really get someone else's opinion. At least if it's with a beta, I'll have an excuse to just NOT LOOK AT IT!" *opens email and types in beta reader's email address* *stares in terror* *closes email* *opens manuscript* *considers another read through* *wants to vomit at the thought* *opens email and types in beta reader's email address* *attaches document* *stares in terror for several minutes* *hits send because the cat just knocked something over and startled me*
STAGE 10: Empty nest
*drums fingers* "Okay, so the book is off with beta readers, so I can't really do anything until I get their feedback... My brain is too burned out to write anything else in the meanwhile... Um... Now what?" *fidgets* "Can I have it back?! I wanna work on it again!"
I have a feeling that none of these stages are unique to me... In fact, I'd wager that many other writers go through a similar cycle. My latest manuscript is currently off with beta readers (and I'm still thinking about that ONE SENTENCE and wondering how I could word it differently), so I'm book empty-nesting like nobody's business. On the bright side, maybe I'll actually update this blog now?
Oh, actually one more stage... the one that kicks off this whole process...
STAGE 0: The big joke
"Haha, I just had this nutsy idea! What a joke, right? Hahaha, wouldn't that be a crazy book to write? Haha, this idea is terrible but kind of fun! Haha, I'm not taking any of this seriously! Hahahaha, wouldn't it be even crazier if I added this other crazy element? Hahaha! Haha! Ha..." *spends hours brainstorming*