Writer’s anxiety is often caused by a belief that I MUST BE WRITING ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME. It simply isn’t true. Even those who write full time recognize that there are seasons to writing, just as there are seasons of life. Your writing process will ebb and flow with these seasons.
The Writing Process
Everyone discovers, revises, and refines their own writing process over time. On the most basic level though, the writing process includes idea development, drafting, revision, feedback, editing, sharing/publication, and rest. The writing process is nonlinear, and a writer can move between all those different phases at any time during a writing project.
It’s worth taking time to recognize the general pattern of writing process that works best for you. Maybe it takes you a long time to develop an idea, but drafting is quick. Maybe you like to develop your ideas while drafting, and revision takes longer. Find the pocket that suits your personality and schedule best.
The Writing Season
Writing seasons include both short and long term cycles, and they can shift according to project or life situation. This hit home for me when I was reading about Stephen King’s process. He said,
While he was writing specifically about first drafts (which might actually take more or less time), it reminded me that writing runs in cycles, like most things in life. I can’t always be “on.” My body and creative well need rest and refilling from time to time.
This has helped me alleviate some of the pressure I put on myself to produce work day in and day out. I still write almost daily, but I have realized that I am a healthier person when I schedule my time and allow for both projects and idea exploration, along with fun and rest.
Embracing Your Season
As the weather changes this year, pay attention to your writing habits and energy. Do you need to take some rest and refill the creative well? Maybe you need to pick up the pace and finish a first draft this season.
If you are like me, you are trying to juggle a couple projects. I’m entering a season where I need to prioritize and finish a revision before moving to another work.
Once we recognize the season we are in, we can embrace it, adjust our writing process, and let things linger on the to do list that aren’t in line with our current goals and priorities.
What writing season are you in and how are you embracing it? Let us know in the comments.
Create a character in an off-season of their life, where they believe they should be doing something, but it doesn’t happen. What will they do in response?
Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website.