Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Five Stages of Writing

Five Stages of Writing

The Canadian Armed forces has a slogan: there’s no life like it. I think those words could describe many careers. As writers, we’re no exception. I’ve been in this business for fifteen years, now, and sometimes I think I even have a handle on what’s involved. I’ve boiled it down to these Five Stages.

ONE: I Have a Dream

Full of ideas, eager to get them down on paper, convinced your words are going to turn the world upside down—you dream of becoming a writer. For me this is the most exciting phase. It’s overflowing with possibility, driven by passion. It’s limitless—like the God I worship. Unfortunately, this feeling passes. Sometimes in an instant.

TWO: Hope Deferred

Proverbs 13: 12 says: Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

No matter how thick your skin, every failed contest entry, every new rejection, every discouraging remark and review chips away at your dream until you lose hope it will ever come. All writers experience this. The discouragement and doubt might last for minutes, it might last for years, but it can’t be avoided. Sucks, doesn’t it!

THREE: Perseverance

Philippians 3:14. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

God has called you to write? Hang in there. Works hard. Write. Re-write. Learn new skills. Improve your craft. Persevere. Don’t short-change yourself because this is the only way to truly reach that elusive prize you seek.

FOUR: Success

You’ve done it! Whatever your goal, you’ve made it. You persevered and saw it through. You’ve succeeded. Rejoice and celebrate and share your joy with those who understand. And relax—but not for too long because now you’ve got to decide what you’re going to do next.

FIVE: Now What?

You’ve come full circle. You’re back where you started. Time to haul out those new ideas and dreams, and start this process all over again.

Moment to moment, from project to project, we writers move through these stages. We loiter in some, zip through others, back up, turn around, start again. Some phases become so familiar (like hope deferred) it’s as if we’ve sunk roots. Others, like short-lived success, we can blow through with hardly a pause.

No matter what phase you’re in, rest assured that it is just that—a phase. It’s not your permanent home. Work through it and a new phase, a new dream are just around the corner.

Right now I’m vacillating between Hope Deferred and Perseverance. 

What phase are you in right now?

Jayne E. Self is a Canadian mystery writer.


  1. Thanks for your post, Jayne. I'm right in the middle of "Perseverance" at the moment. Surprisingly enjoying it. No doubt will be different when I shoot the manuscript off and the waiting commences and … goes on … and on.

    But as you say it's all a season. Success isn't assured, however, we need to enjoy the daily achievements of hitting your word limit, writing that great sentence (gee, I wish that happened more often), receiving positive feedback from a critique partner and so on.

    Wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas, Jayne. Thanks for your contribution to ICFW this year.

    1. Perseverance seems to be the biggest, longest stage, doesn't it? I wish you all the best in your writing--great sentences, strong verbs, flowing thoughts and good word counts--and Christmas joy as you celebrate the season with people you love.

  2. Thank you for this encouraging post, Jayne. I haven't made it past the perseverance stage yet. But I'm learning more and more with each writing craft book I read and each manuscript I write. I'm committed to this creative life.
    Christmas blessings ~ Wendy

    1. I wish you all the best with your writing, Wendy, and pray you will find satisfaction and grace in each step of the process.