My 45-Step Writing Process

1. Decide that I’ll never have any good ideas ever again.

2. Get a good idea while I’m driving, working out, showering, or doing some other random activity that makes it equally impossible to write anything down.

3. Panic.

4. Write down new idea before it evaporates.

5. Look at idea later and decide that it’s soul-crushingly stupid.

6. Repeat Steps 1-5 until I have an idea that doesn't seem stupid.

7. Drink 8,000 cups of coffee.

8. Begin writing.

9. Rip all hair out of head.

10. Write some more.

11. Drink more coffee.

12. Resign myself to dying before finishing first draft.

13. Finish first draft.

14. Galumph around the apartment in triumph, yodeling at the top of my lungs.

15. Call family and friends, announce the completion of the first draft of a new project.

16. Try to explain plot of first draft to family and friends.

17. Realize that large swathes of it don’t make sense to them… or to me.

18. Dread re-reading first draft for fear that it makes even less sense than I anticipate.

19. Re-read first draft through one squinty eye.

20. Die inside.

21. Call family and friends, announce that I’m giving up writing and will likely never publish again, begin perusing the Want Ads for jobs that require little to no intellectual capacity.

22. Sail across turbulent seas of confused emotions.

23. Eat scoops of coffee straight from the bag.

24. Spend undisclosed length of time wallowing in emotional fallout.

25. Listen to Mozart’s Requiem.

26. Print out first draft, assemble army of sharpened pencils.

27. Re-read manuscript, one hand thrust through what's left of my hair, the other hand clutching a pencil, scribble angrily in the margins, occasionally shriek, "NO, NO, NO!!!!!”

28. Listen to the Second Movement of Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

29. Murder my darlings.

30. Flail.

31. Sleep, drink coffee, consume large amounts of cheese.

32. Write second draft.

33. Feel slightly better.

34. Send latest draft to beta readers for feedback.

35. Instantly feel worse.

36. Alternate between hyperventilating and dry heaving until hearing back from beta readers.

37. Receive exciting (yet horrifying) e-mails full of contradictory information, listing everything that is both right and wrong with my manuscript.

38. Hide in closet, rocking back and forth, keening.

39. Wade through contradictory lists of confusing feedback and decide what to change.

40. Listen to Bach’s Come, Sweet Death on repeat for hours/days.

41. Write new draft.

42. Find new readers, repeat Steps 34-41.

43. At some point, decide that the manuscript is “done.”

44. Call family and friends, announce the completion of a project, celebrate, etc.

45. Decide I’ll never have any good ideas ever again.


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