The Seven Stages of Writing Projects

Stuffed tiger wearing a sombrero

Actually, my thoughts tend to have more tigers in them. But they were edited out of this post because they're shy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stage One: The Beginning
This is awesome! This is the best idea I’ve ever had! And it’s going so well. Christ in a fucking whorehouse, I don’t think I could screw this up if I tried.

Stage Two: The Speed Bump
Oh, shit, I screwed it up. No, no, no, don’t worry. You can get back on track. You just have to…make the main character…a…zombie? No. Sociopath? No. Park ranger? Meh.
…Sociopathic zombie park ranger? Yes.

Stage Three: The Second Wind
Now that I really know what this is about, there won’t be any more problems. Hell, I can see the end from here. Now it’s just a matter of getting there. And I’ve really got a feel for Clancy, the sociopathic zombie park ranger with daddy issues.* I can do this. Just. Keep. Going.

Stage Four: The Wall
This is the worst fucking thing I’ve ever written. I don’t even want to call this mine. I’m going to leave it outside the church with a note saying, “Please take care of my hideous brain progeny and try not to scream when it slithers out of the basket and under your bed. It’s just trying to hide from my hate.” I want this story to fucking die.

Stage Five: The High
Holy shit, I’m on the downhill stretch! And everything’s coming together! Wheeeeeee! (Happy noises fade away in the distance.)

Stage Six: The Collapse
I…have no more words left. I’m done. And I have no idea if this story is great, or just another word monster that should be buried at the crossroads so it can’t find its way back to me. I don’t know if I should celebrate or kill it with fire.
…I need a drink.

Stage Seven: The Re-Visit
(Six-twelve months later) Hey, this is that story I wrote back when I thought sociopathic zombie park rangers were a good idea. Man, that was a weird stretch. I should have a look at it now, see how bad it is.
…Actually, this is better than I remember. You know, it’s not great, but it’s got good bones. It just needs some polish. And a metric assload** of rewriting, but I can do that. I’ve even still got all my original notes, because I hoard information like a post-apocalyptic squirrel who isn’t sure spring is ever going to come.
Yeah, I can totally do this. Time to throw this one back on the fire and start hammering. And this time…this time I won’t freak out about it. No more doubts and shit. Just pure, solid writing without all those ups and downs.
This time, it’ll be different.***

*Honestly compels me to point out that I’ve never written anything with a sociopathic zombie park ranger with daddy issues, especially one named Clancy. But now I feel like I should.

**Metric assload is my common measure of rewriting. It is described as the amount of rewriting I can do before starting to twitch, multiplied by 1.5. It replaced the far less standard Imperial assload some time ago.

***It won’t.

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10 thoughts on “The Seven Stages of Writing Projects

  1. This post is amazing. It perfectly describes my writing process as well, with almost the exact rhetorical terminology (though I tend to use an “unsurmountable fuckton of rewriting”).

  2. This may be my favorite yet. So many great lines to choose from, but I’m going to have to go with, “. . because I hoard information like a post-apocalyptic squirrel who isn’t sure spring is ever going to come.”
    Made me lol for realz.

    • Thanks. This is my favourite post so far, too, if only because of the accuracy. Next big project I do, I’ll just come to this whenever I get stuck. “Oh, I’ve just hit Stage Four. Nothing to worry about.”

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