There are plenty of posts about the steps to writing a story but very few of them tell you what you’ll actually go through/ feel when writing something. These of course are subjective. Not everyone is going to feel all of these or any of these when approaching their story writing, but I just wanted to share these steps just in case one of you are going through the same thing I have.
So, without further delay here are The Real Steps You’ll Go Through When Writing A Story:
You got this amazing idea! No worries we’ve all got one in our heads. You grad the closest thing – let it be your phone or a note book – and begin to write furiously. You have characters lined up and a plot. You imagine being on a popular television show being interviewed by the host that found this idea of yours just as amazing.
Don’t worry, you’re not delusional, you’re a writer. 🙂
When you are done writing down this idea you close the notebook or app on your phone to continue with your day. You will think about the idea, try working out the kinks to your story, and figure out other key factors that you may have not thought about when this idea had taken hold.
REVIEWING THE IDEA:
Now you’re home from the store, work, what-have-you and you sit down in front of your computer or type writers to explore this AMAZING idea further. You pull out your notes and start typing them out on a larger screen. You no longer have that excitement the idea once brought you… actually now that you’re reading this idea it isn’t that AMAZING at all.
You’ll push through, making changes here and there. The ideas flow and you discover this idea is actually growing into something. You are able to write a draft or at least something you believe resembles a first draft. You know the start, are muddy on the middle, but you really like the end. You’ve also started liking one of the characters – it could be something you made them say or do that pulls at your heartstrings but you now vow that nothing will happen to them.
WHAT ARE WERDS?
You are fixing up your draft and hate the middle bit for some reason. It isn’t flowing with the rest of the story… it feels like you were forced to put those scenes together – or worse – you didn’t know what to put in the middle so you just through that part together. That’s fine… the story isn’t published yet… you have time to fix all these growing problems to create the “Perfect Story”. You know perfect is a strong word but you use it anyway because to you, you want this to be perfect.
So, you sit there staring at the screen for a moment reviewing the draft. You change two words, remove one word… but asides that you can’t think how to change it. You get up from your work area and go make something to eat. The second you get to the fridge and are in the middle of working on the sandwich when the curtains rise and you have this idea on how to fix the middle of your book.
Now, you’re in a predicament. You can stop making your sandwich to write down the idea but you don’t know how long this thought train is going to go for. You could write the idea down on the whiteboard you have in the fridge but there wouldn’t be enough space to make this idea clear. You settle on the third idea. Finish making the sandwich and then write the idea down on the computer. That way you are sure to at least one thing that day and you can spend all the time you want writing this idea down without worry of forgetting the half-made sandwich on the counter.
You run this idea over and over in your head so you don’t forget. The sandwich is done and you grab a drink from the fridge. Everything is tidy and you go to sit down at the computer. Fingers raised above the keys ready to type the first word and you hesitate. Not for suspense but because the idea has sat so long in your brain that it is stuck in there like quicksand and you can’t figure a way to pull it out. Questions start running through your head like: how are you supposed to start this idea? How do you connect the original with this? Are there other changes in this story you need to make because of this idea?
Soon your mind is so filled with these questions that the idea is now just a faint whisper barely audible to be noticed in this fray your mind is now in. You stare at the screen, watching the flashing black text line beat to the same rate as your heart before your head falls forward to rest on the key board in defeat. The only thought going through your head now is: “Urg this is hard!”
DOUBT & APATHY:
These two are the worst and always come together as a pair. Doubt will creep in first at the darkest moments of your writing. You will sit there staring blankly at the screen or once you have completed everything to your liking and are reviewing the drafts. This is where you will start to think that maybe your idea is terrible. Maybe you are a terrible writer. Maybe this story you’ve written isn’t worth all this hard work. Maybe writing isn’t a job you should look at doing.
When all of these thoughts pull you down and turn you into grey sludge apathy comes in, where you feel like nothing matters. This story doesn’t matter. Your writing is too predictable. Your writing doesn’t matter. No one is going to read this stuff. No one will care about what you’ve written.
You’re a hack! You’re a loser! You’re a failure!
These thoughts are normal. Every writer will have them at least once and if not then they aren’t normal… This doubt and apathy only become a problem if you start to believe it. So, instead of filling your head with all these negative thoughts try thinking these instead.
Maybe you are a terrible writer – but your writing improves with everything you write. Maybe this story you’ve written isn’t worth all this hard-work – but it will feel so good when it’s done and at least one person reads it. Maybe writing isn’t a job for you – but it can be a hobby that you enjoy and it helps you escape. This story doesn’t matter – to you but maybe someone out there needs your story. You’re writing is too predictable – because you wrote it! You’re writing doesn’t matter – it lowers your stress and helps you develop ways to mentally coup with outer stress… so yeah… it does matter. No one is going to read this stuff – if you’re too afraid to put it out there. No one will care about what you’ve written – only if you don’t take the chance to see.
If you are strong enough to counter all of your own arguments and work through your doubt demons than you are a writer. It is doubt that kills ideas… so don’t let it kill yours.
COMPLETION… OR SO YOU THINK:
Once you are out of that funk and everything appears to be bright/ shiny again you will realize that the finished product was worth it. That excitement you felt when this idea first came to mind will be back and you’ll want to share it with the world. You will realize all the hard work was worth it. All those nights staring up at the ceiling was worth it.
You post your story online or whatever form of publication you choose, and you get your first reader. You may not be on a talk-show or a national bestseller (yet) but not giving up on this project was an award all on its own. You sit back in your chair, read a couple of comments, and then poof! Another AMAZING IDEA pops into your head.
Back to work you go!