Just two days ago my friend Giorgio finally received the first copy of his book, ready and freshly printed. Saturday night we went to eat a pizza and he pulled it out, with care, for fear of crumpling it or staining it, and showed it to me.
He was in ecstasy. I saw in his eyes a look that I know well, that mixture of pride and amazement of those who realize that they have reached an important goal, all with their own strength, and at the same time it seems impossible to him to have made it.
And yes, he did write that book. It’s his book.
And you too can experience the same emotions.
How We Feel In The Final Stage Of The Writing
Now that Giorgio can hold his book in his hand he is in seventh heaven, he feels fulfilled.
But this is the feeling that one feels only at the end, in the final phase of the writing process.
At this moment, after months of work, everything takes on a meaning: the joy and enthusiasm with which he started writing months ago, the thousands of ideas he had on his mind, the bravado of those who begin, who soon dissolved faced with lack of inspiration or time to write, and then slipped into (physiological!) moments of discouragement, when he thought he could not make it and he said to me “cabbage, how hard it is!”, and then, even more down, when he wanted to give up because, so much, out there is full of books and “who do you want to read mine!”.
Today’s enthusiasm, however, obscures and removes the memory of these thoughts. Giorgio knows he still has a long way to go, because now he has to roll up his sleeves to promote his book and make it known to the world, but the very fact of holding a book that he thought impossible to write shows that he did it and , just for that, it shows it was worth it.
If you are also writing a book, but you feel stuck and you think you never get to feel what Giorgio is feeling today, why do you think you can’t do it, well, don’t get discouraged.
Know that all the writers have been in your shoes and have lived what you live now, but if you resist these roller coasters, the ups and downs, the difficulties, the demotivating little voice that you sometimes feel in your head, then you will come out more strong because you will prove first of all to yourself (and also to that annoying talking cricket!) that you did it.
It is, in fact, a question of resisting, of reaching the end, overcoming all the phases of writing.
A Swing Of Emotions
In the last article we talked about the emotions of our characters and we wondered how to put them on stage in our texts.
Well, today we are talking about your emotions as an author, because if you want to get to the end of a book’s writing process, before thinking about the plot and the characters, you have to think about yourself.
You must be able to distinguish what happens to you inside, what thoughts crowd in your head, what mood you feel in your stomach, even if you smile and pretend not to notice.
Maybe he has already written many pages and yet suddenly you think you can’t write anymore, you’re not good enough to do it.
It is insecurity, which undermines the foundations of your self-esteem.
Or you are almost at the end, you really only need the last two chapters and here is an inner voice that tells you that the book sucks and it’s all to be redone!
It is fear, fear of the judgment of others or even fear of succeeding because maybe part of you thinks that you don’t deserve it.
They may seem strange reactions, but in moments when we have to do our best and the idea we have of ourselves is at stake, anything can happen.
So get ready.
Writing a book is an emotional journey.
Writing a book is an emotional journey because it brings your emotions into play.
Know that it will not be an easy path; above all it will not be linear.
You must be ready to face ups and downs, not to lose sight of the goal and to work with humility in the “high” moments of euphoria and exaltation, and even more, to believe in yourself in the “low” moments of discouragement and distrust.
Between a peak and a ravine there will also be the plains, where the pass runs quickly, but also the stony gullies where you can slip, the uphill paths that take your breath away, the felled logs to get around, the ditches to overcome with a nice jump.
In short, writing is an articulated and varied path. Knowing what awaits you can help. So here are the 6 stages of the writing process that all the authors face.
The 6 Stages of Writing
Stage # 1: the plain
You have decided to write a book. It’s a special moment, you’d like to tell everyone, your mother, your best friend, even the bartender in the morning when you go for coffee. Maybe you do it, maybe not, for good luck, because you think it’s better not to say it and make everyone a surprise when your book is finished. Soon very soon!
You feel so inspired that you really wonder why you never had this idea of writing a book before and you can’t wait to (to) show the world your talent!
Because you have talent, you’re sure of that.
Now you just have to feed it.
It takes the right environment. Then first you order on your desk, buy a nice new notepad to take notes and brainstorm, colored pens, highlighters, post-it notes and maybe a nice bulletin board to attach them to.
Then buy a lumbar cushion to sit more comfortably on that old chair, a supply of printer cartridges (better be farsighted) and a series of new cups because you will surely spend many hours writing and will need to drink a lot of tea or coffee.
Finally, you find yourself looking online, without knowing why, some nice motivational phrases, to print and hang in front of the desk, or to copy on the board or set as a screensaver.
In short, you are inspired and feel a great creative energy around you.
You seem to have before your eyes a vast plain, where everything is possible, where every direction is valid. The goal is there before your eyes. Just start.
Stage # 2: the swamp
From the open spaces of your inspiration you have suddenly slipped into the quicksand of doubt.
Writing is damn harder than you expected!
Before you started you had so many ideas and instead now, after only a few words, nothing seems more convincing.
Writing is damn harder than you think.
This first chapter seems impossible to complete. After all, you know that the incipit is important, you repeat it over and over, you read it in all books and creative writing blogs, so you can’t write random sentences. Each sentence must be the right phrase in the right place, every word must be the right word in the right place, otherwise the reader will close the book and many greetings.
It would take at least a decent sentence, an incisive thought, and if it is not a thought, at least … a little thought!
Then think back to how many “little thoughts” you wrote in elementary school, how you liked it, how well you did it and the teacher who always put you “Bravissimo!” At the bottom of the page, complete with an exclamation mark. And now nothing. Not even a shadow of thought.
The shadow instead falls into your head, but it is that of doubt and skepticism.
Your inner voice begins to insinuate: “You’ll never make it!”
Yet you are good at talking, you talk all day, but now that you have to put words in writing, they seem to have disappeared from your head.
You try hard, you have to write something. The result is a banal phrase and you are not even so sure that the verbal construction is right. Does it say so? Is it written like this? Suddenly you doubt everything, even the simplest words. In this moment you would also doubt the rhyme heart / love.
Then cancel and rewrite.
Rewrite and delete gates
Curse the bravado inside you that led you to tell everyone that you would write a book. At this rate, don’t even write the shopping list.
You are immersed in the swamp of the incipit, in a blank page panic.
The solution to get out of it is there and it is simple: proceed in small steps.
Set yourself the goal of writing a single page a day, but make sure you do it every day.
Write little, but write every day. Write as fast as you can, without rereading and without asking too many questions. Don’t give yourself time to doubt.
In small steps you will move away from that first dangerous white page. Besides, Stephen King also said it, remember?
Whether it’s an epigram or an epic trilogy like The Lord of the Rings, it’s a job that is always and only done by putting one word behind the other.
Whether it is an epigram or an epic trilogy like The Lord of the Rings, it is a work that is always and only done by putting one word after another.
One word after another. Focus on creating your writing routine, rather than filling pages and pages. Set a daily appointment with writing, accustomed to the fact that every day at that time you write.
At first it doesn’t matter what or how. You write.
Remember that at this stage you are not creating your masterpiece, you are creating your writing mentality.
Stage # 3: the climb
Following the advice somehow you have reached the end of the first chapter but now you are trudging through the following ones.
It is difficult to go on because you constantly stop to re-read what you have written and to correct and recapitulate every word.
You really never thought it would be so difficult, you would never have believed that the flow of ideas and thoughts that seemed unstoppable in your head before you started, now that you’re sitting in front of the keyboard seem dissolved, evaporated in the sun, or come out to hiccups and with so much effort.
But why didn’t anyone tell you? Is it possible that none of the people to whom you have carelessly sold for having made your book before having written it, knew that you were embarking on such a difficult task?
Or did they know it but they kept quiet ??
Whatever happened, now it’s done, you’ve crossed the Rubicon and you’re in this adventure.
You’re climbing your own mountain and you can’t give up. You can’t lose face in front of everyone (and especially in front of yourself).
But it’s a climb that climbs: you miss your breath, you feel the fatigue in your legs, you can’t see the summit and you always look down, where to put your feet.
I warn you: at this stage it is very easy to give up, because the path taken is still too short and the destination is still too far away.
“But yes, I tried it after all …” you could say to yourself to console yourself.
But no. You don’t have to give up, not now.
If you give up now you will never know if you could really write a book, if indeed the one you had in your head was a story that was worth telling, and you will forever have the doubt that – maybe – it could have worked … if only you had insisted !
So the point is this: you have to insist, you have to resist.
To do this, mix the cards: deceive the sense of block that the first pages can give you, writing separate scenes. Who said that a book must be written by force going in order from beginning to end? Write the scenes as they come to mind, also write the ending if you already have it in your head. You will reorder the pieces later, but now you will get new pages written, which will increase the distance between you and the beginning, decreasing the gap between you and the end.
And then look for someone who knows you well with whom to confide, to whom you tell the conflicting emotions you are experiencing, to explain how hard it is.
You can also join a community of online writers: they know what you’re going through and will encourage you.
Sharing your progress with other authors will stimulate you to continue, because you will feel in a certain way having to be accountable to the group. Furthermore, you will realize that for you these are small steps forward (“today I wrote two pages”, “today I finished the third chapter!”) For others they can be excellent results and you yourself can be a stimulus to them.
It’s like facing the “dolomitic road” on a bicycle: on the pedals you have to push yourself, but having fans who encourage you on the roadside or being able to follow a companion putting you in his wake can make a difference.
Stage # 4: the forest
Finally you’re in the middle of your job. You seem to have passed the hardest part, but now you are tired and the end still seems too far away.
Why did you jump into this reckless adventure? What guilt did you unconsciously feel you had to expiate?
Your inner voice repeats to you: “Leave it alone, don’t you see how much is still missing?” All this effort and you’re only halfway … you’ll never make it! “
Inevitably you listen to this voice and you are right, because you feel you have run out of energy and above all ideas.
You seem to have nothing else to say, you seem to have already created the most important scenes, to have sketched believable characters, to have inserted twists in the right place and exciting episodes when needed … and yet you are alone on page 60!
So you think maybe you could end it here, turn your initial project into a long story or a novel and abandon the idea of a novel.
Sure, you could. Far be it from me to come here to say that the stories and the stories are less valid than the novels! Rather.
But you did not start with the project of a story or a novel, you started with the project of a novel, so if you stop now it means that you are giving up, you are masking with a partial (and apparent) satisfaction instead what is a failure.
Do not give up!
You did half way and maybe more, you wrote more than most people ever wrote for just one project. And if you wrote the first half it means that you can certainly write the second half.
Even in this case the solutions to do it are simple.
First: write as it comes to you. Write badly, but write.
Your goal is to get to have a first draft in your hand. You will do the revision later. Better a bad first draft than a first draft that doesn’t exist.
Second: look for new stimuli to awaken inspiration.
If you feel like you have no more inspiration, you don’t know what to write, try changing something in your writing routine. Write at a different time than usual, or write in a different place than usual. Leave the house and try going to the park to write, if it’s a nice day, or in a cafe or library. Change the context to change the effects.
If you can take off for a few days, take a trip out of town, observe new environments and above all observe people you don’t know. The inspiration comes from unexpected cues, but you have to be ready to catch them, so it awakens your ability to observe.
Third and most important: review your design.
Maybe you started out writing without worrying about setting up a project for your work. It doesn’t matter, you can fix it by doing it now.
Perhaps you did an initial scheme, but it was so accurate. Or it was accurate, but in the course of the chapters your story went elsewhere (it happens!) And now that pattern no longer makes sense. Well, take it back in your hand and do it again.
If you find yourself in a dense and tangled forest, the only way to get out of it without running around is to have the map. And do you know what the good news is? You map it the way you do.
Stage # 5: the clearing
You have finished the first draft. It is a draft, of course, with errors, inconsistencies, songs that do not work, pieces to be rewritten, but it is complete and this is what counts.
Let the book rest for a few weeks to then be able to face it again with a sufficiently detached gaze and use this time to do something else.
For a start, make a gift
If you have completed your first draft you have arrived where most aspiring writers never come. So you deserve a reward. Buy yourself the bag that you like so much and that you have been eyeing for a long time, or that electronic gadget that you saw in the hand of the neighbor, or give yourself a dinner in an expensive restaurant and toast to your goal.
Your inner voice could be heard once again and whisper: “What are you celebrating? Can’t you see that what you wrote sucks? Nobody will like it! “
Shut it down once and for all. Yours is a draft, it is normal that it is not perfect, but what matters is that it is complete.
After a few weeks of posting, pick up your text and begin your review. Go step by step, read the text several times, each time setting yourself a different goal.
Most likely you will find errors, inconsistencies, passages that you liked so much before and now no longer convince you. It’s normal.
When in doubt, cut.
Cut and rewrite. Your book is already finished, so don’t be afraid: cutting entire steps in this revision phase does not diminish the value of your effort, but is necessary to give your text its best appearance.
If you can, let some beta reader read your book, someone who can read it and tell you sincerely what they like and what not, what works and what doesn’t.
Trust the advice given to you and do not foolishly become attached to characters, scenes or sentences. Who is not emotionally tied to the book as you are you have a look on the text inevitably more objective than yours.
Do all the review steps you think necessary, then give the text to a professional editor for final editing and proofreading.
Now is the time to look beyond and start thinking about promotion.
But how, haven’t you published the book yet and already have to think about promoting it? Yup.
An effective editorial promotion begins before publication.
You can start thinking about an effective title, you can contact a graphic designer for the cover and start working with him on one or more ideas, you can do online searches and make a list of sites and blogs to contact to ask for reviews, you can create your own site and write the first articles of your blog, you can open your social accounts to let you know and interact with your potential readers, etc.
There is so much to do to prepare the ground for the publication of your book.
You are crossing a clearing: the forest is behind you and the peak is there, before your eyes.
Stage # 6: the summit
Your manuscript is complete, revised and corrected, with your name on the cover.
You feel at the top of the world. You did!
You can look down on all those who did not believe in you, those who laughed under their mustaches when you were in trouble, and all those who say they want to write a book, to have it all in their heads, ready, word by word, but then the words never got to write to her.
But you did, you wrote them.
You set a goal and reached it. So, first of all, congratulations!
Enjoy this wave of satisfaction and pride that pervades you and uses the energy that animates you to move forward.
In fact, the journey is not over. Now it’s time to publish your book and make it known to the world.
Put into practice all the promotion strategies you can, without haste, but with perseverance and determination. If it is true that a book is written one word after another, it is equally true that a book sells one reader after another.
Finally, start writing again. Don’t let too much time pass before you start writing a new book.
Now you know you can do it, you know how to do it. Get to know the route, step by step.
Don’t let too much time pass before you start writing a new book. Now you know how to do it. Now you know you can do it.
And you? Have you already finished your first book? How was your journey? Have you also experienced these 6 stages? Or are you still writing? And what stage of the route are you in?
Write it down here in the comments, I support you!