Deb Dana Trusts the Process

A fellow writer recently posted this illustration on Facebook, and it is a perfect summary of my writing process.


Writing process

As you can see, the initial excitement and optimism quickly give way to fear, frustration, and finally hatred. Frankly, by the time I’ve finished a manuscript, it’s a miracle I haven’t thrown my laptop out the window.

When I was in the midst of writing THE GIRLS’ GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS, I experienced this cycle with the terror of a first-time author. I figured that if I ever actually got published, going through the process of writing and revising would stamp out all of the self doubt and second guessing. Selling my book would free me from the circle of woe.

And then I started my second book, and within a few weeks I found myself at the “Oh God. I hate it, I’m stuck, I shouldn’t have written this in the first place” stage. How was this possible? Wasn’t I supposed to skip over all of that stuff the second time around?

Somewhere around that time, I chatted with my sister-in-law, a successful author who has published many books in the UK. When I told her how I was feeling about my latest work in progress, she nodded knowingly and gave me some advice I’ve never forgotten: “Trust the process.”

In my case, “the process” tends to involve a lot of dead ends and detours, a lot of nail biting and second guessing (not to mention a few metric tons of ice cream). But it also involves revisions and input from an editor and a host of other steps that eventually turn my manuscript into an actual book. The self-loathing, the desire to set fire to my draft — these emotions are all part of my process.

Knowing I’ll always fear my story isn’t working doesn’t make the process any easier. At the back of my mind, I always think, “Maybe this time I WON’T make it work.” But when those thoughts surface, I remind myself that this happens every time — every. single. time. — and somehow, by embracing the fear, I have learned to trust myself as a writer.

What about you? Does the above graphic strike a chord?





7 Replies to “Deb Dana Trusts the Process”

  1. Oh my. I know that cycle, all right. Far too well, in fact. I’m very glad you didn’t set fire to your draft, Dana. We would all have been deprived of the privilege of reading your words. 🙂

  2. I am soooo in the middle of that circle of woe right now on book 2. I really needed this to know I’m not (or maybe only a little) crazy.

  3. Well, as they say: misery loves company, and it’s good to know that we all go through this circle. The graphic had me laughing out loud. “Trust the process.” I’ve learned a lot, even about my own “process” during revisions — my reactions, the amount of time it takes me to come to my senses, my elation when I feel I’ve gotten it right.

    Great post!

  4. Oh yeah. So there. I’m writing my 5th novel right now and I’m at the “This is the worst thing I’ve ever written” phase. Luckily at this point I know that it is part of a cycle…that it’s not always true. So I just accept that this is part of the natural evolution of a rough draft and keep putting one word in front of the other.

  5. This is absolutely my process. And I’m going through it right now! I think I’m somewhere between “I need to rewrite the beginning for the 15th time” and “ugh”. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one!

  6. My process involves a lot of dead BODIES as well as dead ends, but yes, I know this cycle well. I go through it with every draft, starting and ending with AWESOME! and passing through all the stages of “holy cow, I will never pull out of this nosedive before I crater into the surface of the sun” the rest of the way through it.

    Great diagram. Totally appropos.

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