Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Cycle of Writing

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*

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