Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Seven Stages of Creative Writing

The Seven Stages of Creative Writing
Diana L. Driver
A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany as I read an English translation of an old 14th century manuscript.  The name of the manuscript shall remain nameless. It’s not important and I don’t want readers to think I encourage one type of philosophy or religion over another. But, the message I received from this manuscript was clear. Every undertaking consists of stages and if you can recognize these stages when they happen, then you can complete what you've started.
Stage One – The Invitation to Write
The Invitation to Write doesn’t come as a surprise. Most writers have contemplated writing a book for years before they get The Invitation. But, when this Invitation arrives it brings a new sense of excitement. The ‘idea’ of “I want to write this story!” Becomes “I should write this story!” and is almost overpowering.  The writer happily visualizes characters, scenes, backgrounds and the beginning of a plot.
Stage Two – Sense of Dread and the Realism about the undertaking – The First Crises
Following upon the joy of ‘receiving the invitation’ comes the First Crises where the author doubts both his own capabilities as well as his ideas. This could immediately be the death of the idea if the author either doesn’t believe in himself or can’t muster the courage to continue.
Stage Three – Determination to accept The Invitation – energizing the impulse
If the author garners the courage to get beyond the First Crises, then the author’s self-determination kicks in. The Author begins compiling information such as character names, description, plot points and where to start the storyline. The author knows now that he will indeed attempt the work as he organizes and plans the logistics.
Stage Four – The Recognition of Self-Discipline and Delayed Gratification
This is the beginning of realistic expectations. The author knows that the only way to complete the story is to be disciplined. Writing Time must be given a priority and a writing schedule must be maintained. Not just for a couple of days, but for as long as the work takes to be finished. This is when the writer actually commits to the project.
Stage Five – The Beginning of the Work
Now the story has begun. The first sentence of the first paragraph of the first page is written. The author sees the story unfold before his eyes. Once again, his excitement is overwhelming.
Stage Six – Problems Encountered in Expression – Second Major Crises
This is where the writer, having written, once again begins to doubt his abilities and the quality of the original idea. This is the stage where most writers fail. Their initial excitement is gone and the work seems endless. The idea now seems mundane and uninteresting and the actual writing seems tedious. With each additional mistake the author’s internal editor gets louder. This is the stage of Writer’s Block. This is the Stage also where the writer has to trust himself, knowing that perseverance is key.  
Stage Seven – Final Expression
Having passed through the Sixth Stage, the writer has matured and can realistically continue. He knows intuitively that this cycle will be experienced over and over again as he writes and rewrites each chapter  and each new edit until the work is complete and ready to be released to the world.

Diana L. Driver is an author of short stories as well as fiction and nonfiction including the novel Ninth Lord of the Night and its nonfiction companion book, The Maya, People of the Maize
visit her on the web at


  1. Very nice, Diana! Reminds me of Shakespeare's Stages of Man speech that Jacques delivers in As You Like it. You present a logical organization for writing.

  2. It's the sixth stage that's the most difficult to get through and it takes a lot of will power and self-descipline. I know because that's the stage I'm in right now.

  3. As a new author, I've found it encouraging that no matter how many books they've published, even best-selling authors get mired in stage six. They just refuse to stay there though.

    Great post, Diana.

  4. Nicely said! It's helpful to see that I'm not alone in the self-doubt that comes at various points in this process. The inner editor/self-critic is often pretty vicious, making it difficult to stay with the process when it's such a long-term commitment. Thanks for sharing. :)

  5. I think I've taken up residence in #6. "_

  6. (Posted by Diana for Lo)

    I enjoyed this, Diana:) Loved the lightness of tone, belying the deadly topics!:) I hate the stage of six also...hmmm...sounds like a story tucked away in there...The Stage of Six...I'm claimin' it!:) It can go on the "To Be Written" pile along with the rest of the ideas:)

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  8. Cindy,

    That's the difference between the "doers" and the "thinkers". I'm good at planning, not so good anymore at carrying things to completion!

  9. T.W.,

    I think that once this stage is reconized as part of a process and not as a failing, then we can push on. :-)

  10. Lo,

    Thank you, Lo!

    The Stage of Six or the Sixth Stage - whatever. you can have it 'cause I'm living it!

  11. Ansha,
    Me, too! Of course it would all be easier if there weren't so many distractions - like tv, and internet. If we could all go into a room and have someone lock the door on us, we'd get these books written!

  12. (For Jaimie - who can't get Blogster to work!)


    I have the book that you are writing about. It has helped me to not only understand how the "creative process" works,but how to recogignize the "blocks" that we somehow manage to put in front of ourselves. I am not a writer,but a musician and a jewelry designer/artist. The process IS the process,and we ALL go through it. It is nice to have a map to help us out when we get a little lost on the way. Love your Blog!! Very informative,and no silly fluff. I like that!!

    Best Regards,Jaimie R

  13. Thank you, Jaimie!

    "The process IS the process." I like that!

  14. Yes, stage 6 definitely separates the doers from the thinkers. Good list!

  15. Thank you, Eric. Here's hoping that the next time we get the urge to burn one of our mansucripts, we take a break instead.

  16. I think when it comes to stage 6 and writer's block, usually (for me, at least) this comes when I have written myself into a corner, so to speak. It's realising what part of the story isn't working and ruthlessly removing it in order to get writing again. I'm on my 6th novel and time and again this process of weeding out the stumbling blocks works for me. :)