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Six Stages to Writing a Novel

​Posted February 2016



Brilliance! This is the best idea I’ve ever had. The idea is so amazing this story is going to tell itself. I will write 10,000 words a day and in nine days I’ll be done. It will be witty but smart, insightful but not boring, a page-turner that is controversial but with universal appeal. This is it. My opus. Worthy of Pulitzer Prizes and red carpets. The Academy Awards! I need a dress. It needs to be sophisticated but intellectual, edgy but understated, maybe off the shoulders, maybe with a cape like a superhero. I need to go shopping. No, I need to write. Weeeee!


The energy is high, high, high, the fingers are flying across the keyboard and words are filling the screen. Ideas are pouring out and the juices are flowing. I work at a breakneck pace. I don’t sleep. I survive on chocolate and coffee. My husband no longer exists. I forget my children’s names. Genius is at work. Don’t interrupt. Can’t lose the mojo.


I suck. I am drowning in drivel—hundreds of pages of nonsensical, meandering storylines, aimless characters, armchair philosophy, and clichés. I haven’t showered. I have no more clean underwear. I need to return my dress. I haven’t spoken to another human being other than my characters in weeks and even they don’t like me.


The choice: Pretend I am a writer or admit to the farce and get a real job. Ha! At least I am now wearing clean underwear. Sure, all I’ve produced is a substantial pile of kindling for roasting S’mores, but my husband doesn’t know that. He has no idea how talentless I’ve become. After all, I told him we were going to the Academy Awards, so he is being very supportive. I wonder how long I can milk it before he starts to notice there is no book. I slog on at the pace of a slug, no longer in a rush, trudging forward as the days become weeks and the weeks turn into months, my husband politely asking how it is coming along and whether he should order his tuxedo.


My eyes are bloodshot and my butt has spread five inches. My wrists hurt and I can no longer form a coherent sentence. When someone talks to me, my vision glazes over and my mind wanders, lost in a world that exists only in my mind and on my computer. I am completely fixated on the story. Friends have stopped calling and my husband now pats me on the head like I am one of the pets. The story, the story, the story. An obsession. A compulsion. A sickness.


The end.

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