My writer-life is very cyclical. Once I get an idea in my head I can’t ignore, I start the process. It always ends the same way.
STEP ONE: I write. I outline for a few days, thinking of different scenarios, twists and outcomes. When I’m satisfied I’ve covered everything well, I begin a full-on writing frenzy. I write between 1-3 chapters a day. As I finish each new chapter, I send it to a writing partner or two for feedback. As those come back in, I stop writing to refine what I have and then press on sending and receiving for weeks.
STEP TWO: I shine it up some more. Once it’s finished and all the 1st round suggestions are made, I read it from the beginning and polish as I go, tightening, cleaning, cutting and adding. I send the opening chapters to random beta readers I don’t know for feedback. I make more changes. Perhaps their suggestions lead to bigger revisions, I take all applicable advise and use it fully. The mean, bossy, superior stuff, I pitch. Can’t let the nay-sayers get me down. I’m a writer LOL.
At the end of Step Two, I’m completely satisfied with my work. In my mind, it’s the best project I can produce at that moment in my life. I’ve used all my available resources, experience and knowledge to follow rules, push boundaries and touch readers. In other words, I’ve given all I have to that work. As a result, I’m depleted. Hence Step Three.
STEP THREE: Paralysis. During Step Three, I’m in a funk. My energy is zapped. My mind alternates between dread associated with waiting and rejection and freak-out mode for the same reasons. During this part of the cycle, I’m unable to write anything. I can barely entertain a new idea. I deal with self-doubt. My mind rolls back to my latest project, wondering if there was something more I could’ve done.
Waiting is tough. I have two big projects on submissions now. It’s really early in the game, so I know I won’t hear anything for a while, probably months. This is the reason I wrote the latest manuscript. To keep me busy. But now I’ve finished. My agent has it on her calendar to read next month. Gah! That leaves me on a month long reading binge just to see what her response is. She loved the concept, my outline and opening chapter, but what will she think of my full execution on this? *sweat beads on brow*
I’m not ready to start a fourth project this year. I’m wiped out. I had a busy spring getting the two manuscripts ready for submissions and a few months of promotion that kept me running. Then this project, and now I’ m nearly catatonic.
But I’ve written enough to know this will pass. It’s my downtime. These are the days I binge read and fill up on the amazing words of authors who get me, inspire me and keep me reaching for my goals. The side effect of all the reading is I’m learning more about my craft, what’s selling, getting new ideas, turns of phrase and making notes for the future….for when this cycle ends and I find myself back in Step One again. It will come. It always does. And while I’m deflated and frettting at this moment, I know the elated manic frenzy of a new work will come soon. And that makes Step Three worth while. The next manuscript will be stronger because I spend time here in between.
How about you? Do you have a pattern in your writer-life? Are we all the same in this? I think writers can be classified into a group on the DSM-IV. We are so different and yet share the same writerly behaviors. I can’t help but wonder if this is one of those.