Wednesday, January 25, 2012

So Predictable

While every novel has its own challenges, it's quite scary how I find myself repeating the same phases. (My friends, too. It's adorable, and I love reminding them that they freaked out about the same exact thing LAST time, ha.)

My phases go kinda like this:

1. Falling Fast and Hard
When the idea hits, I'm so a love-at-first-sight writer. I grab on and dive in with nary a thought to anything else. I just want to BE with my idea. We're in love. It's perfect.

2. What have I DONE?
And then Act I ends, and I'm fifty pages in, and I go straight into a panic. Seriously, every single time. I stare at my story, wondering if I was too rash, if it's really worth going further. There's a lot of whining to my friends at this point, and they are sweet enough to push me along and tell me to shut up and keep going.

3. Middles Suck
Even if I have a clear idea of how I want the story to evolve, the middle drives me nuts. I'm too far from the end to have faith that it'll come together, and I freak about going in circles.

4. Seeing The Light
Around 50k, I start to feel like I have an actual BOOK on my hands—a book that has an ending and everything! I really pick up speed around this point, and that first love comes rushing back full force.

5. First Draft High
There's a reason I have 13 finished drafts—I LOVE finishing a first draft! It's such a high. Every time. I float around giddily, mooning over my new baby book and how sweet it is, so full of potential.

6. Pre-Revision Melt Down
This quickly follows #5, with all its crushing reality. The book is far from perfect. There's still so much to do. Should I even BOTHER? Will this thing sell? Did I waste my time? Will anyone even like it? I can't possibly make this book what it deserves to be. Woe. Misery. Trepidation.

7. The Revision Cycle
• First 100 pages: THIS WILL TAKE FOREVER
• Next 100-150: This isn't so bad...
• Last 50 or so: Almost done just GET DONE BEFORE I LOSE IT

8. Post-Revision Daze
Symptoms include extreme exhaustion (probably due to brain over-exertion), a disastrous house, a realization of all the things you DIDN'T do while editing, no desire to do said things, and an extreme craving for bad food and TV binges.

9. Hey, That Might Be A Good Idea For A Book...
Then, as the haze lifts, something catches in your mind. A snippet of conversation. An image. A song. A news clip. A voice. You think, "I need to write that." And you start, having forgotten completely how hard it was to do the last time.


  1. My meltdown usually begins when I start with the first draft and then slogs along until I finish. Revisions is where I get into a groove and enjoy the process.
    I think I just admitted that the actual writing sucks. Was I supposed to say that?

  2. Alex, I've heard that from many writers! Some much prefer edits—I'm the opposite:)

  3. lol, you couldn't have described my current state more accurately than you did in #8: Post-Revision daze.

  4. OMG I'm in the middle right now, and I just. can't. It seems so impossible right now.. i hate this feeling.. tell me to just keep going!

  5. It's a vicious, vicious cycle, this writing life. I'm doing nearly all of these steps right alongside you, Natalie. Too funny.

    1. I'm on step 10: realizing you need to do another rewrite and put your new idea on hold. I think that's the worst step, but probably only because I'm in it.

  6. This is exactly what I needed. I am currently on #7. Kill me now.

    Thanks for the great post, Natalie.:)

  7. My cycle has one more step in it. I get to about 50K and suddenly realize I really should have put X,Y, or Z into the beginning and I need to fix plot point 1,2 and 3 before I can finish.

    That's where I'm at now. UGH.

  8. Hi, this is my life. Thank you for putting it on paper. At least now I can see that part where it gets better. I'm somewhere between 6 and 7 right now, which is usually the point where the train comes off the track and I bypass 8 completely and skip right to 9. Here's hoping I can break the cycle this time.

  9. I'm still not awake yet. I read through half this post thinking you said 'PHRASES', not phases, so I was reading the bolded parts as phrases you tend to use from book to book.

    More coffeeeeee......

  10. Hehehehe that sounds a lot like me, although I've only managed to finish one Draft so far. :-D

  11. Oh dear Lord I just realized I've been stuck in between #2 and #3 for the past year and a half! Ack. It beat me down and I decided I sucked and stopped working on it. My face must look like the faces of people in medication commercials when they learn their symptoms are easily treatable: Surprised and pleased, without the "please-tell-me-more" raised eyebrows because Natalie already laid it all out for me :)

    Thanks for the enlightening post!


  12. Ah, the story of a romance...with a story. :) Been there, am there, will probably always be somewhere in there for the rest of my life, hehe. :)