The Cycle of Writing

Photo credit: freddie boy on Flickr
So I've mentioned several times already how in 2015 I didn't draft anything new. This was a big deal to me at the time, because 2015 was the first time since 2005 that I didn't write at least one manuscript a year (I finished my first ever MS in 2006), so I ended up breaking an almost decade-long writing streak, and, well.

Emotionally, it was tough.

Granted, looking back, there were a million reasons why this happened: in 2014 I wrote two manuscripts back-to-back, 2015 was the year before my debut's publication, 2015 I worked on revisions for three (I think?) different manuscripts including Beyond the Red, and that's without counting the heaviest school load I'd ever had (18 credits one semester), and some really emotional Real Life events that happened a couple months apart.

All of that is to say logically I shouldn't have had a problem cutting myself some slack, especially since I did get a lot of work done (so many revisions!), but you know, brains are jerks, we are our own worst critics, etc. etc.

So when 2016 started, one of my resolutions was to first draft a new manuscript—and I'll be honest, I had doubts about whether or not it was actually going to happen even though I very much wanted it to happen. Not drafting for a year messed with my self-confidence a bit, despite all the good stuff going on.

So this April I started first drafting again, and I finished the (very short—but complete!) first draft on May first. The draft came in a little under 50,000 words, and when I finished I really wasn't sure I'd want to pull it out again (now almost two months later, I'm definitely psyched to get back to it hopefully in the not-too-distant future). But it was a draft, and it satisfied my New Year's Resolution, and I also felt much better having finished my fourteenth (eeep) first draft.

This month I've started first drafting again—something totally different from the WIP I wrote in April. And as nervous as I was to get started (and I was), I hit the ground running, set a 2k/day 6 day/week goal, and gave myself a mid-July deadline. So far things are going well—I'm 60% through and ahead of target, so barring unforeseen circumstances, I should be able to finish on time no problem.

But for the first time ever, despite already having written a first draft this year and getting through my second first draft of 2016 relatively smoothly, I actually have a third fully-plotted WIP I'm itching to write.

As far as I can remember, I've never written three manuscripts in a year before (though I have happily written two in a year on several occasions). But this idea has been so fiercely on my mind since I started plotting it in earnest that I've already promised myself if I don't get the chance to do it sooner, I'll use it for NaNoWriMo assuming I don't have a more impending deadline to get to that month.

So to go from nothing new in a year to (possibly) three new manuscripts the next year reminded me writing is very much a cycle. From idea generation, to plotting, to first drafting, to revising revising revising revising, to resting if you can, and back again, the cycle is clear enough—but sometimes we slip into a cyclical mindset, too. Sometimes a year of revising manuscript after manuscript means a year of drafting manuscript after manuscript, and that's okay.

Sometimes it's easy to forget we need to give ourselves room to focus on one part of the cycle at a time, especially when we're dealing with multiple projects. Sometimes it's easy to forget that not writing anything new for a while doesn't mean you'll never write anything new again.

So here's the reminder to you guys that I needed last year: writing is a cycle, and no matter what part of the cycle you're at, give yourself the room you need to enjoy the stage you're in. I promise everything will be okay.

What part of the writing cycle are you at right now?

Twitter-sized bites: 

"Not writing anything new for a while doesn't mean you'll never write anything new again." (Click to tweet)
Feeling stuck in one stage of the writing process? @Ava_Jae talks cycles and writing. (Click to tweet

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