The Five Stages of Writing a Book
(Disclaimer: in no way does this post seek to minimise the reality of grief and the Five Stages of Grieving).
1. The Brilliant Idea.
When the idea for the book first comes to the writer, they can’t stop thinking about it. They see all sorts of wonderful characters, plots and subplots, meaningful themes and relevance. They can’t wait to get started. Going to work, cooking dinner … everyday occupations feel like interruptions.
2. The Brilliant Book takes Shape.
This is the honeymoon period for the writer. They are still in love with the idea for the book. They occupy every spare moment researching, writing, discovering new characters and plot threads. At this point they might even consider turning the book into a series.
2.5 The Belief that what they are writing is Brilliant.
Now the books is progressing. As the writer lays down the plot, chapter by chapter it unfolds before them, sweeping them along. They can still see wonderful opportunities to explore things that fascinate them by holding the mirror of fiction up to the real world.
3 The Moment of Total Despair
This happens about two thirds of the way through the book. Everything has been going along swimmingly and suddenly they see a plot flaw. It has a domino effect. One or more characters refuse to do what the author planned. The end, which seemed so tantalizingly close, has now fallen into a black hole. This is where the dedicated author will push on, by going back to the place where the book was working really well and writing through the bad patch.
3.5 Completion of the First Draft
This is the moment when the writer feels they have nailed it. The characters, who were misbehaving, have worked with the writer to reach an ending that satisfies them both. There are probably a list of things that need tweaking and the writer is quite looking forward to starting the rewrites.
4. The Realisation that what they have Written is Utter Rubbish.
This comes for the writer somewhere between the third and thirty-third rewrite. They are so close to the story now that they can’t tell whether it is any good or utter rubbish. They can’t understand why they ever thought they could write, or that writing this book was a good idea. At this point cleaning the oven looks like a viable option. (It is a good idea to have a supply of chocolate ready).
5. The Acceptance
This is the acceptance that what they have written will never be never be perfect, but they have written it to the best of their ability with their current writing craft skills. If the writer is very lucky, this stage will be followed by the actual acceptance of the book for publication.
At which point the writer will go through another five stages during the editing process. (This post was written because my husband found me tearing my hair out in stage 4).