How Many Stages do You Go Through?

My spectacularly talented pal Rusty Fischer just posted his 9 stages of a WIP. He’s such a talent, I think I picture him simply cracking his knuckles, brewing a cup of brilliance, and tapping out a completed work in a day or so. Not so, according to him.

About 95% of the time, I live in stage 1:

1. SUPREME DOUBT, in which I wonder if I should write at all, think about taking up basketweaving, and alternately feel a strong compulsion to write. This stage is gruesome, akin to some hormone-induced meltdown stuck in perpetual motion until…. something… happens.

2. AHA is my second stage. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything that happens in stage one–it’s the polar opposite of it, and I can flip back and forth between the two for months. BUT…once in while the AHA actually clicks in. I get an idea. I like the idea. And the key–I don’t care if anyone else could give a damn about it. Don’t care about the market, whether it’s a romance or nonfiction or nuttin. It just is. And I want to do it just because. It’s quite zenlike, and is totally contrary to the “put your butt in a chair for x hours a day/week/whatever” mentality. Unfortunately, I do share the “this sucks” stage that Rusty talks about.

3. THIS SUCKS. I can’t write. What a stupid idea. What was I thinking, who would contract this, I don’t have a plot (I never have a plot). Depending upon the strength of the AHA stage, or upon “real world” mitigating circumstances–work, family, etc., I may move on to…

4. THIS MAY NOT SUCK. I may or may not circuitously run the idea or title past someone. I might noodle around the net, wondering if anyone has mentioned they’re looking for this “may not suck” kinda of title. At this point, I can circle back to number 1, Supreme Doubt. This is where the book may really die for good. I have a folder of them. The sinister cousin of Supreme Doubt, I Don’t Know my Genre, may also rear its ugly head. That can put me out of commission for months. But if I get past this, I usually move onto…

5. WORK. I got this. I know what happens. I will use a lot of dialog because it’s my strength. Each time I sit down, I edit what I’ve written previously. When I get to the end, it’s a pretty clean machine, if I do say so myself. Usually no crit partners, no beta readers. I…

6. SUBMIT. This has typically gone pretty well for me.

So, I have six stages, and I’m wondering what yours are? More like me or more like Rusty? He’s so freaking complicated… Sigh.

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3 thoughts on “How Many Stages do You Go Through?

  1. anny cook says:

    I usually skip one and three because I really don’t care too much whether someone else thinks I suck or not. At this point in my life, I just write and worry about what to do with it when it’s finished. However, I do get stuck sometimes in the I Don’t Know My Genre…

  2. Too awesome for words. I forgot to mention that my stages exist solely in isolation. I almost never, ever seek outside help b/c I’m always afraid laughter will be the immediate and long-lasting result, so I’m on the fence with Stage 4, *but* I definitely suffer from I Don’t Know My Genre as well!!! Great list; I love living vicariously through other writers…

  3. Gaelen Foley says:

    Hi Ciar! thanks for sharing this. I love it. Great blog! thought I’d drop by. Excited for your new one!
    Gaelen

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