The Five Stages Of Writing (or I Feel Your Pain)

Writer's Block 1

(Photo credit: OkayCityNate)

Like dealing with grief, writing also has five stages.

STAGE ONE – Caffeination

Most writing begins with some sort of stimulant. Much writing is done late at night because writers are so easily distracted during the day and fail to meet their quotas. This leads to a further need to increase the dosage the next morning, sparking a cycle of dependence, and a pretentious attitude regarding bitter, hot beverages. Other side effects may include short temper, swollen eyes, headaches, and wearing pajamas in the afternoon. If the writer is successfully able to pin down some shred of their remaining intellect and beat it into submission, they usually move directly to the next stage.

STAGE TWO – Internet

As the mind becomes more alert, this generally leads to a need to check out the surrounding environment. While this is often rationalized as networking with social media, keeping abreast of the latest trends, or puppy breaks, it is in fact a thinly veiled attempt to escape the inevitable. Depending on the length of time exposed, the writer may develop feelings of euphoria and may laugh inappropriately. Explosive anger or bouts of crying are signs that the writer may have read the comments.


As the day progresses and any sort of productivity remains elusive, feelings of dread and anxiety usually surface. They are often spurred on by the realization that if they don’t write something soon they are going to starve to death, or at the very least be forced to return that advance that the have already spent on things like food and electricity.

STAGE FOUR – Self-loathing

The writer may begin to utter phrases such as: “It’s crap. It’s all crap. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m not a writer. Why did I think I could write anything? I shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard. If I let the cat walk on the keyboard, it would come up with better dialogue.” Any attempts at consoling the writer will usually be met with with contempt and derision. It is best to avoid them at this stage as they will only bum you out. Apply alcohol as needed.

STAGE FIVE – Deadline

As the inevitable approaches, the writer accepts that they are not in control of their own lives, and they cannot please everyone. By the time they reach this stage, the writer has come to accept that it doesn’t matter what you put on paper because that’s what editors are for. If the writer does emerge from their den with some semblance of a finished product, reward them with baked goods.

Also, writing is hard.

Author’s Note: Posts on this blog may be erratic for the next few weeks because:

  1. It’s Christmas and nobody is reading blogs.

  2. I’m trying to finish a book.

  3. I can’t be sarcastic all the time.

  4. Grumpy Cat is stealing all my good bits.

  5. I like to hibernate until March.

Crazed recluse and sociophobe who has taken up writing after failing at everything else. Send pizza.

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Posted in Blog, Word Nerd
8 comments on “The Five Stages Of Writing (or I Feel Your Pain)
  1. So brilliant….and so on the money!!


  2. Well, I’ve got caffienation and internet down…LOL!


  3. Matthew L. Campbell says:

    So much truth


  4. reluctantwritergirl says:

    Here is my theory. The word deadline should be stricken from any writers vocabulary. We work on pure inspiration. You can’t call that forth at any particular moment. It comes to you when it’s damn good and ready. So really. We go through these steps and you are right by the way. About every one of them. Except I would like to add staring out the window to the list. So we go through these steps in vain. Because the writing skill can’t be honed. It is wild and free. We just have to make ourselves available to it. That is why most writers are a little off center. We like the unpredictability of never knowing when we are going to have another brilliant thought. lol Just my .02


    • I think Phase Two could be relabelled as Distractions and be extended to include staring out the window, video games, and wool gathering.
      I have heard that there are people who are disciplined enough to sit down at a computer and just write for six to eight hours a day. But I have also heard stories about Bigfoot and unicorns.


      • reluctantwritergirl says:

        I wonder how beneficial wool gathering is if I don’t sew. I still might consider it though. I do like to gather.

        I think Bigfoot is smart to be elusive. If he ever got caught we would just make him enter the workforce.


  5. Xenogirl says:

    Get out of my head!!


  6. I completely agree on the self-loathing stage – but it’s nice every once in a while to have a critique partner who says, “oh come on, it’s not ALL crap.” 🙂

    Great post and thanks for the pingback!


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