The Magpie Phase
Deadlines loom on the horizon. You have so much work to do. But when that brand new idea pops up smack in the middle of your brain, how can you possibly ignore it? It’s JUST. SO. SHINY. You try to push it away, but it sits there in your peripheral vision all day, twinkling and sparkling like someone went at it with a Bedazzler, making it impossible to concentrate on anything else. Eventually, you have to snatch it up. You don’t want someone else to get it first, do you?
The Toe-Dip Phase
Writing that first chapter involves some serious apprehension. You skirt the edge of it, carefully testing the waters before you submerge yourself. Is this a good entry point? No, it’s a little too cold. Can’t start over there, or you’ll cut yourself on those jagged rocks. The waves are looking kind of big today. And is that a shark? Better try the next beach over…
The Honeymoon Phase
For a little while after you’ve found your starting point, drafting feels like falling in love. You constantly discover new things about your characters, and everything you learn is endlessly fascinating. You like spaghetti, oh protagonist of mine? I like spaghetti, too! Tell me more. We were obviously meant to be together.
The Daredevil Phase
You’ve only just embarked on your journey; you don’t need to know where you’re going yet, right? Ignore that internal GPS and follow the plot bunnies wherever they may run. Hmm, the entire chapter you’re writing may be an unnecessary tangent? Who cares! You can fix it later! There might be something cool around this hairpin turn…
The Act 2 Slump
Your zippy little drafting joyride has come to an end, and now you’re sitting by the side of the road with several flat tires. You think you know where you are, and you think you know where you need to go, so why can’t you get from one to the other? Oh god, nothing makes sense, and everything you’re writing is so boring and aimless. You’re bored even writing these scenes. How could anyone ever be expected to read them?
The Organizational Fiend Phase
All right, that’s it. You need a map. You should’ve bought one at the gas station way back in chapter one, where you stocked up on Cheez Doodles and caffeinated beverages. Why do you always leave without a map? Now, halfway through the draft, you start to outline. You plot things out on a calendar. The colored notecards and Post-Its come out to play. You are going to whip this thing into submission if it kills you.
The Corporeal Possession Phase
Somehow, your main character seems to have crept inside your body, and now she’s controlling you from the inside. All your emotions are directly tied to hers, whether they relate to your own life or not. People ask you how you are, and you tell them how she is without even thinking about it. You feel angsty all the time, but you can’t tell if it’s because the writing isn’t going well or because you’re writing someone else’s angst very well.
The All-Nighter Phase
When you hit the climax of your story, your daily word count skyrockets beyond anything you’ve ever been able to accomplish before. Food and sleep suddenly seem like friendly suggestions you can safely ignore instead of necessities for continued life. You’re almost there, and all you want to do is write write write write write until you’re finished…
The Last Day of School Phase
OMG YOU’RE DONE! YOU TYPED “THE END!” YOUR MANUSCRIPT IS AN ACTUAL MANUSCRIPT! Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? Time to dance like a maniac and eat ten thousand celebratory cupcakes and down a bottle of wine all in one go and then sleep for a week straight! *fires confetti cannons*
The Hangover Phase
In the harsh light of morning, you can see the truth: this is officially the worst thing you’ve ever written. Sure, it’s book-sized and book-shaped, but it makes absolutely no sense. Where are the themes? What is it actually about? How can a book feel too action-packed and too slow-paced at the same time? Why did you even write this piece of crap? Nobody is ever going to want to read it. And why is there a wine bottle under your pillow?
The Revision Phase
At least there are words on the page. Bad words are better than no words. Bad words are fixable. Time to get started.