Ready to hear about the writer’s cycle that most aspiring authors share?
We write, we think it’s great, we realize it’s not, and we feel terrible. Rinse and repeat. Today, let’s break down the cycle so we can challenge each step!
OMG! This is the Best Writing I’ve Ever Done!
Every writer I’ve met has had at least one writing sprint when they stop, pause, and suddenly have the epiphany of ‘this is the best thing I’ve ever done’. This is an amazing feeling. I’ve been there: it makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. Sometimes it’s even true!
Really. You might actually be writing the best material that you’ve ever written in your life. Unfortunately, you might also be delusional. The number one thing you want to remember when writing ‘the best thing ever’ is… it might not be the best. This advice is going to save your life when you get to the editing stage, because if you’re operating under the premise that you’ve written something perfect, you’re going to have a hard time killing your darlings.
Oh, the Writing Cycle Step Where the Plot Gets Tricky
This is the stage of writing when you realize that everything isn’t going as planned. Maybe you’re not following your outline perfectly, or maybe you don’t even have one in the first place. You might start worrying about where the story is going, and how you’re going to solve the different problems you’ve created without resorting to dues ex machina.
Welcome to my current WIP?
The best advice that I can offer for when you start worrying that the things are getting tricky is to keep on writing. You’ll either figure it out or you’ll end up scrapping half of what you wrote. There’s nothing wrong with that. Unless you’re scrapping every 300 words. Write first, scrap later, okay? Remember that you can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit something you deleted, or worse, that you never started.
Wow, This REALLY is Just Terrible
You’ve now come to the part in the writer’s cycle where you realize that your story is actually quite bad. We’ve all been there. We’ve all that terribly magical moment where we realizing that what we wrote is utter garbage. It’s usually when you start spouting Twitter posts about how you just realized you’re rewriting Fight Club badly. Or when you ask every friend you have what another word for ‘said’ is. Every browser tab on your laptop is open to “what is a cliché”.
This can be hard to bear, but don’t worry. Just like you’re sometimes delusional about the best writing, sometimes you’re wrong about the worst. You might need to take a break, get a clear head, and come back another day when you can look at your writing with an unbiased eye. Maybe ask a friend or family member to read over what you wrote when you hit this stage. They can offer either reassurance (that you aren’t writing crap) or, if you’re lucky, legitimate writing advice that can be critical to your story’s development.
Uh. Wait. Screw the Writer’s Cycle, IT’S ME THAT’S TERRIBLE!
After you start questioning your work, sooner or later, you’re going to start questioning yourself. You’ll start wondering whether the problem is with the writing or whether the problem is with you. You’ll start wondering if you should shelf the idea of becoming an author and go back to school, back to the office, or even back to the coffee shop.
Don’t do it. Let me stress this to you: you are not a terrible writer. Some of your writing might be terrible, but that doesn’t mean you suck too. Some of the best writers in the world started out with crappy premises and turned them around to be masterpieces. Writing takes time and dedication and most of all, it takes practice. So keep on keeping on, and sooner or later, you’ll realize that if you write enough, edit like a pro, and keep on wading through the writer’s cycle that you GOT THIS! Get on over to #writing (a website that me and Kaitlyn Meyers are working on with lots of random advice), get some pro tips, and make the magic happen.
Your best writing days are still ahead, and you’re going to be just fine.