Stage Three Melt-Down

In my last post, I talked about the 5 Stage Writing Cycle, casually mentioned by Meg Gardiner at The Kill Zone a couple of days ago. Yesterday, I sat down at my computer, opened up my Work In Progress (WIP), and slid into Stage Three almost immediately.

For those who didn’t read the last post, or did but don’t want to go back and re-read it, Stage Three is the Panic stage, or what I like to call the It’s-All-Drivel stage. This is when you read what you’ve already written, decide it’s pure drivel, and are tempted to delete everything that comes after the title page. There are days when even my title page is in danger.

Thankfully, a wise sage once told me the secret to dealing with this problem. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who that wise sage was. (James Scott Bell? Randy Ingermanson? Donald Maass? Could be.) Fortunately, I do remember the advice! It’s this simple: 

When you enter a Stage Three Melt-Down, don’t delete anything. Yup, that’s right. Leave all the drivel alone. Ignore it. Instead, go to the end of the document, get a new blank page on the screen, and add new words. It doesn’t matter if the new words are drivel, also. The point is to get new words onto the page. Later, when you’ve moved beyond Stage Three, you can go back and edit the existing stuff to make it better. If you delete it all while in the midst of the panic, you won’t have any words left to edit.

I know it’s simplistic, but it works wonders. All my previous drivel–uh, words–are still in the WIP, ready to be edited. Probably today, since I find myself back in Stage Two, which is Delusions of Grandeur. It’s a nice place to exist, if you can get there.

For what it’s worth.

-Sonja
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