The 10 Emotional Stages of Writing Your First Novel

It has been on your New Year’s resolution list, your bucket list, your list of life goals and you’re finally going to do it—write a novel. But before you jump into this impressive literary endeavor, you should know about the emotional roller-coaster you’re going to be riding as you embark on your journey to becoming a world famous novelist. 

Stage 1. Excitement

You can write about anything. The possibilities are endless. Talking unicorns….in space? Totally doable. A love story between two iPads that’s really a metaphor for America’s obsession with the Kardashians? Next bestseller.

Stage 2. Commitment

Nope, you can’t make happy hour this week, you’re writing your novel. All the books on writing say you have to set aside a few hours every day to write, but wouldn’t the best novelist set aside all the hours?

Stage 3. Frustration

This is not turning into the next Harry Potter at all. You were pretty sure writing it in iambic pentameter was a strong bold choice, but maybe you were wrong. You might also have been wrong about naming all the characters after popular apps. And the love triangle between Kiki, Tinder and Yo isn’t working at all.

Stage 4. Resolve

You can do this. You just have to keep writing. Just 1,000 words a day. It’s all about discipline. You can not watch another episode of Orange is the New Black until you write your 1,000 words.

Stage 5. Despair

Your bookcases are mocking you. You’ll never finish your book. The half-finished manuscript will stay in a drawer until you die, and the apartment’s next tenant will find it and use it as inspiration for their bestselling novel, and they’ll dedicate it to “the dead lady whose work inspired me to finish what I start.”

Stage 6. Inspiration

That picture of a flower that said “You can do anything,” that your aunt put on her Facebook wall was totally a sign! You can do anything! You can finish this novel!

Stage 7. Isolation

To truly commit yourself to your craft, you have to remove all distractions. Get offline. Turn off your cell phone. Board up your windows so you can’t see that it’s a beautiful day outside that would be perfect for a walk. The only thing today is perfect for is writing your novel.

Stage 8. Exhaustion

Just one more chapter and you can sleep. Sleep can’t interrupt you. Nothing can interrupt you. Writing gives you energy. Writing and Red Bull gives you energy.

Stage 9. Acceptance

Maybe you’re going to write 1,000 words today, maybe you’re going to write 50. Your first draft probably isn’t going to be great, but the second draft will be better. You can do this, but maybe not in a month.

Stage 10. Double Excitement

It’s done. It’s a mess, it needs a critique group and 10,000 words cut and the complete removal of that experimental section written in Elvish, but you’ve written a novel. And you already know what you want to write your second one about (sentient pumice stones).

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