The 6 Stages of Writing
1) Panic: Intense fear of not knowing what the story is, not knowing how to begin, how to end, or what to put in the middle. The blank page stares at you cruelly. You want to leave.
2) Inspiration: Excitement followed by a feeling of near-invincibility. You get and idea, start to see where the story is going. You are energized. You don’t need to sleep or eat, you just need to write. You are master of the word, lord of the sentence. In fact, why deny it: you are a God.
3) Self-doubt: A creeping sense of uncertainty followed by a deep depression. As you hit the 3/4 mark, you start to see holes in your story, and you begin to doubt some of your arguments. As you go back and reread what you’ve written, you wonder if some of the prose isn’t a bit much, a bit forced, a bit affected. You are ashamed of how you felt the day before, like a twenty-year-old is ashamed of his adolescence. You begin to wonder if it even had it in you to do this in the first place. Maybe you should have gone to law school or something?
4) Acceptance: Because there is always acceptance, and because your deadline approaches, and you have to turn something in. And so you plug the holes that you can and ignore the rest. You realize that your work is not the greatest piece of literature in modern times, in fact it’s not even the best thing you’ve written this year. You see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you want to be done with it, you want to break up with it and never get back together, you want to finish it and never speak of it again. And so you finish.
5) Editing: Your own private hell, a death of a thousand needle pricks. Each mark, comment, TK, bold-faced addition exposes personal flaws you thought you’d buried from the world long ago. Like the nightmare of going to school without your pants, it is unimaginably embarrassing. Couldn’t she have softened the blow? Couldn’t she have told me all the parts she liked? And of course she did, but it wasn’t enough, it’s never enough.
6) Publication: Another brief high, a feeling of partial fulfillment tempered by slight embarrassment at showing something not-quite-perfect to the world and an odd disappointment at not being immediately hailed as a genius. A confusing time, but you’re probably at #1 again anyway.