I’ve always loved to write. As I kid, I sat at the old broken laptop and painstakingly pressed each key and typed out the story of my limited life and experience with chickens. (And I was so proud when I spelled computer correctly).
As a tween, I would write for hours a day and create stories of fantasy worlds, of dark holes, talking chickens and little boys named Nay-Nay.
As a teen, my writing improved immensely, I stopped putting chickens in my stories and I spent hours banging my head against the keys wondering how and when all my ideas and inspiration vanished.
Writing used to be so easy. I laughed at writer’s block. Now I understand it. All too well.
I thought it’d be fun to do a post about the different stages of moodiness and inspiration that
little old me all writers probably go through. Enjoy!
It’s been three weeks. Or a month. Or maybe even a year. You’ve been staring at that blank page or empty screen for far too long. You want to write, but you don’t know what to write about. Random ideas have been swirling around your brain, but none grab your interest.
Then it happens.
It’s 3 AM or you’re in the shower or in some other unfavorable situation when inspiration hits you like a train. You reel back, your mind spinning and you know that this idea is the one that will be your crown jewel.
You scramble for anything you can write on – an old lunch bag, a wet notebook, your shirt, your arm, your brother’s hand, anything. You frantically scrawl down the ideas and they pour into your brain so fast that you hardly have time to jot down a complete sentence. You just hope that you’ll be able to read your handwriting later.
The Pouring Out Of Inspiration
You pick up your notebook or pull out your laptop. You feel the thrill of the pen between your fingers or the keys under your hands. Your type away in a fury of inspiration. Worlds, creatures, villains and heroes appear in your mind and come to life through black ink.
You forget to eat and sleep and shower. Your friends and family peak into your room at 4:30 in the morning to find you, red eyed and smelling of coffee and sweat, typing away like a whirlwind. You don’t even notice them. Your mind is filled with the story and you can’t bear to tear yourself away from it.
You feel thrilled and excited. Like your lungs have been filled with the freshest of air after living for years in a musty basement.
You think, Finally, I’ve found my purpose. I’m a writer! I can do this! This is amazing. This will be the best story ever. I’ll be the next C.S. Lewis!
Everything is going wonderfully well. Writer’s block is a distant memory. You laugh at the recollection. You’re the only writer in the world who will never lose inspiration again! You’re on a roll! This book will be done – and published – in a few months!
And then it happens. You find a plot hole. You realize that a character is totally unrealistic. You can’t figure out how to save your lone protagonist from a thousand deadly wolves with dragon heads and hearts of revenge.
You’re still hopeful and you still write. You’ll figure it out. You can do it. You’ll make it past this problem and this story will still be amazing.
You’ve spent hours trying to fix your problem, but nothing is working. Shadows begin to creep into your mind. You wonder if you’ll ever work it out. But you stick to it. You’re not a quitter!
But you’re also tired. And you need a shower. You take a long one, hoping that it’ll get you re-inspired. All it does is make you wish for a bigger water heater.
You wake up and you know you should write. You can fix this, you just have to keep trying. But you don’t want to. You spend forever eating a sugary breakfast and even longer doing the dishes. You’ll write afterwards. But once the dishes are done, you look around and you suddenly see how much work there is to do.
Why, your pet’s cage needs to be cleaned. Even though you did it yesterday and you’d normally wait a whole week, it never hurts to get extra cleaning done. After the cage is spotless (and your pet is complaining because you wiped out all of their comforting animal smells and replaced them with harsh human cleanliness), you realize that laundry needs to be done. You’ll write later, for sure. There is just so many other things that need to immediate attention! And then there are those YouTube videos that you’ve been wanting to watch…
You go to bed without having written a single word. The cycle repeats day after day after day. You try to write a few times, but the words stick in your brain and refuse to transfer to the page like snails stuck in peanut butter.
It’s 12 PM and you’re still in bed. Your hair is a mess. You forgot to brush your teeth. But you don’t care. Piles of empty ice cream cartons litter your room. Your trashcan is full of brilliant ideas that died before they had a chance to grow into stories.
You see your computer lying unopened and your notebook forgotten in the corner. Spiders have already started building webs on it. You utter a deep moan. You struggle out of bed and pick up the computer. The screen flickers alive and there you see your most recent idea. Maybe re-reading it will help to re-kindle the flame. You pour over the pages that you once thought so amazing and you come to a horrible conclusion.
It was all for not. Your words were bland, your story shallow, your plot weak and your characters pathetic. Tear prick your eyes. Why, why, why did you ever think you could be a writer? What’s the use of even trying when nothing goes as planned?
You glance at your bookshelf and see those beautiful covers and the author’s names printed proudly in bold letters on the front. You’ll never be like them. You lack inspiration, you lack motivation, you lack everything that makes you a good writer. Why, you recently stumbled upon a story that your little sibling wrote and it was twice as good as yours. Did you mention that your sibling is three and can barely hold a pen?
I’ll never be a writer. You say it with dreadful composure. You face yourself in the mirror. Your eyes are red from tears and big, dark bags hang under them.
I give up. I’ll never try again.
Freedom comes with that resignation. No more late nights agonizing over plot twists. No more jitteriness from drinking too much coffee. No more writing related misery. It’s done, over, splat. You give your mirror image a slight smile.
The Spark Of Hope
It’s been a little while since you’ve made your decision. You’ve felt freer, but also like some part of you is missing. You’re bored and don’t know how to fill the time that you used to spend on writing.
You turn on your favorite song, or flip to that touching scene in your dearest book or re-watch the best movie ever (LOTR, obviously). Suddenly you gasp and a tiny light pierces the dark and despair filled writer’s heart. An idea flashes across your mind. Maybe, just maybe it could work. Maybe you really can rescue your character from the wolf-dragons!
You’re afraid to hope, yet you do. Just a bit.
The Flame of Hope
You run to your room and dust off your notebook or laptop. Sorry spiders, you can’t live here anymore. You touch the worn pages or keys and excitement swells inside of you. You glance at the last lines you wrote. They weren’t as bad as you thought. In fact, they hold potential. You write down you idea and a real smile spreads across your face. Your writers heart starts to beat again.
Your fingers fly across the keys. Click-clack-clack. Man, you’ve missed this so much more than you realized. You go to bed happier than you’ve felt in a long time. Perhaps you have a chance…maybe you really can be a writer.
The Fury Of Writing
The tiny spark grows and becomes strong and you spend much of your time writing. You’ve saved your character, overcome your plot holes, redeemed your world and you are on your way again. Nothing will stop you now!
You throw your arms around your computer and embrace it tightly. You reread your words with pride. You want to dance. This is what you love, this is what brings you joy! Why did you ever think of quitting?!
You look your mirror-self in the eye and you say proudly, “I am a WRITER!”
You write with renewed conviction, strength and determination. You’re making wonderful progress!
…then you stop. And turn paler than your character did when he saw the wolf-dragons. You’ve forgotten something vital to your story. You’ve messed up your MC. You didn’t do enough world building and you don’t know how to proceed. The shadows begin to reach for your mind and your writers heart…
Over and over, this cycle repeats itself until one of three things happen….
The First: You Quit
Your story failed miserably. At least you think it did. You’re part way through and you can’t imagine it going forward anymore. You hate it. The very thought of writing on it makes you want to run and hide under your bed for the rest of eternity. You throw your whole manuscript into the trash and watch as the garbage men take it away. You sigh and desperately hope that a better story will find its way into your brain.
The Second: Brilliant Idea 2.0
You’re half way through your current project. It’s dragging on slowly and while you don’t hate it, you’re tired of working on it. You decide to talk a walk to clear your mind. While you’re wandering around your neighborhood, you see two children with ice cream smeared over their faces and cones poking out of their ears and noses.
You stop, dead in your tracks. The Idea Train slams into you once more. You dash back home (knocking down your siblings intricate Lego world on the way – sorry!) and scribble down your new story. Forget about the other one! It wasn’t going anywhere anyway. This new one – now this has true potential! You story plotting and world building that very day.
The Third: The End
You push through writers waning, wilting, block and despair. This is your story and you are determined to finish it no matter the cost. It’s taken longer than you’ve hoped. You’ve trashed half of it, killed favorite characters, added unlikeable ones, created conflict and cried your eyes out over the misfortunes of your ink children. There have been late nights, too much caffeine, too little sleep, too few showers, too much ice cream and your eyes hurt from the long hours you’ve spent staring at a blank screen.
But you’ve made it. Your hands tremble as you type those two, glorious, magnificent, shining words. The end. You read them aloud. The world explodes into sunshine and lollipops and yellow unicorns.
You’ve done it. You’ve finished your story. It’s not perfect. There are things that must be fixed and erased and rewritten. But it’s all there before you on paper, shining like a star in a sea of darkness. All the frustration, the tears, the despair and the coffee-induced headaches have been worth it.
Everyone in your neighborhood hears your cry of delight at 2:30 AM. You’ll always remember that hour because that was when all of your hard work paid off.
Do you relate to any of these phases? Which one are you currently in? What are your favorite things to write about? What genre do you write in? What are you working on now?