Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The 8 Stages of Drafting

So, I was thinking today about the ups and downs of writing and hashing out that first big bloppy mess of a draft. And this is pretty much how it goes for me. Writing a novel is like dealing with grief; there are stages.

With grieving the stages are: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance (YES, that psychology degree really DOES pay off sometimes!)

With writing, it's a bit more complicated.

Stage One, Pure Bliss: OMG this is the best book ever! Once I finish this bad boy, I'll be a millionaire! I'll be bigger than Steven King AND Stephanie Meyer! They will make movies not just about my books but about ME! I might even have my own E! True Hollywood Story!

Stage Two, Pure Bliss on the Rocks: Whew. This middle is getting a little sticky. Maybe I should go back and change that one thing that I did in the beginning. Or that one character trait. Maybe if my MC was blind/stronger/had ESP/could see dead people/fell in love with a goat who wanted to suck her blood, it would be better.

Stage Three In Which I Attempt To Stifle the Inner Editor And Not Go Back And Change Crap and I FAIL: Okay, I changed that one thing and checked for continuity for no apparent reason since this is a first draft. Wait, was that a bad decision? Maybe I should change it back. Did I save that other draft? I know I shouldn't go back and change things while drafting, but it was such a good idea and I just KNEW it would make the whole thing better in no time at all! Except three weeks have passed.

Stage Four, Resistance: I'm the worst writer ever. What am I doing? I can't even spell! I use too many commas! This idea is AWFUL! No one will ever want to read it! I don't even want to write it! What was my log line again? Do I have a character arc? What about theme, DON'T I NEED A THEME?!

Stage Five, When I Think About Cheating: Dude, I just had this GREAT idea for a book! So, it has NOTHING to do with my current book, but that one can wait, right? RIGHT?! It's not even that good!

Stage Six, Hope Resurfaces: I made it to the scene where my MC gets to make out with her love interest/there's a dragon/she's super funny/everything is going like I planned YES! This is BRILLIANT! I AM AN EVIL GENIUS!

Stage Seven, Repeat Stages Four Through Six. At Least Ten Times.

Stage Eight, Philosophical Rationalization: I know this writing stuff is hard, but it's okay. It's all apart of my learning/writing journey. I am one with my novel and it is one with me. We will go through this experience and emerge stronger on the other side.

Or not. :-)


  1. LOL. Mare, this is bleedin' brilliant. Oh, and the goat blood-sucking hero?? Finish that book so I can read it, yo!

    Stage seven is the suckiest of sucks, yet we all have to face it. I truly hope you're on eight now. It's a nice reprieve before the edits start and you get to step eight and three quarters.

  2. I'm glad to see I'm only one who goes from the highs of 'This is fantastic!' to 'The only thing that separates this from a story written by a five year old is the absence of crayon'. I feel a lot more normal now!

  3. Oh, I'm so so so trying to be one with my novel at this point! Love the psychological analysis. How much do I owe you, Dr. Wolf?

  4. ROF!!! I LOVED this! Thanks for sharing, and giving me something to show my wife and say, "See? It's perfectly ok if I'm a little weird."

    Great post, Mary.

  5. You brought in GOATS. This makes me think of a blog challenge I may have to cook up.
    I am a total classic for "Stage Five, When I Think About Cheating." I don't just think about, I do. I am relentlessly naughty.
    Awesome post, Mary.

  6. Hello my darling Anita! I'm getting there :-/ I can't wait to be done with my rough draft. This ending is making me crazy! I need to stop trying for perfect and just go with good (for now!) I hope your writing is going smoothly :)

    Hey Christine! I love your analogy! 'The only thing that separates this from a story written by a five year old is the absence of crayon' You are awesome!

    Hello my lovely Mary! Am I Dr. Wolf, or Dr. Wulf? Maybe both, the Jekyll and Hyde version ;)

    Hey Bryce, glad you liked it! I always have a moment of panic after I post something (did that even make sense?!) and good for you for bringing the spouse in the loop. I try to hide my neuroses from my husband (I don't do a very good job) :)

  7. Jenny Phresh face! I eagerly await your goat-ly blog challenge.

    Hey Naomi! Thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed my little slice of crazy :)

  8. You are VERY AWESOME, did I already tell you that? And a GOAT VAMPIRE?!?!

    I worship at thy feet.

  9. HAHAHAHA, blood sucking goat lovers!!!! Awesomeness.

    This here is why I love writing my draft in a ridiculously fast haze. I know it's gonna suck from day one, and I just enjoy the rush. Then, three weeks later, I let reality set in. My editing process is even scarier than your drafting process!!! LOL.

  10. Forgive me, great Goat Herder, it has been two hours since I last violated stage 1, 2, 4 and 8. On two separate manuscripts no less.

    It's a scary, scary place inside a writer's brain.

  11. Cherie - YOU are awesome, no REALLY! (And pretty!)

    Michelle - I am working on getting to that whole "write 50,000 words in two weeks" thing. It's gonna be awhile, I think. :)

    Rookie - Your penance is two outlines, a synopsis, and a new blog post. And my the muse have mercy on your writerly soul!

    It's funny because it's true!

  13. Just finished a revision. Can so relate to this. Staring on a new WIP, I find purely creating a challenge after all that time revisioning.

  14. I...go through each of these about once a day. You are awesome for posting this.