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Six Insane Stages of Writing

Posted by Mayja | Posted in ,

It's funny, but any time I take on a writing assignment a strange and bizarre ritual ensues. I'm curious if other writers go through similar phases, so I'll share this one and see who writes back:

Stage One: Panic
To clarify, it's not a full-on, run around the room panic - just a very brief, momentary OMGBBQ!11!!11! It's not every writer's first reponse to an assignment, but for some reason I get this surge of jitters and fear that I will not be able to do it perfectly. As always, the perfectionist in me takes hold of my shoulders and shakes me up before any rational response can occur.

Stage Two: But I Don't Know Anything About...

TPC Scottsdale Golf Course, ArizonaImage by via Flickr

A certain amount of research is required to get familiar with the content and lingo of the assigned topic. One of my topics this time was Arizona golf course properties. This was for a marketing piece to drive customers to a real estate website. I don't golf. I had no idea that "the links" was the equivalent to "the gridiron". I dove into the interwebs to fill my brain with anything remotely related to golf in order to become an overnight expert. In one evening, I could tell you the best places to purchase a property on an Arizona golf course (Scottsdale - all the way), and I could describe it and sell it as if I've golfed all my life.

Stage Three: The Goofy Side

Before I can even make a serious attempt on the topic, I must get my goofiness worked out of my system. I'll do a mind dump of all of my cheesy stereotypes and cliches. I'll keep it all in one paragraph so it looks like I've acheived something. Plus, it gives me a good laugh when I reread it. I had sentences like, "There's no better place to show off your favorite madras pants" and "You never have to search for your balls when they're always on your front lawn."

Stage Four: Wait a Minute - Strike That. Reverse It.

By now, I've spent about an hour (maybe more) going through the first three stages. There is no way I can avoid it any longer. The actual writing must begin. My brain will suddenly get serious and kick into high gear. Before I know it, I'll have tons of copy and the writing will come to a complete stop. Perfection time - I must edit. I've always been the type of writer who must edit as I go. Even while composing this post, I've been scrolling up, rereading, editing, coming back down to here, rinse and repeat.

Stage Five: Proofread and Submit

Finally, I'll get need a proofreader. Every writer requires one no matter how good they are. A second/third/fourth set of trusted eyes are always necessary to complete the writing process. This usually involves my husband, who is an excellent writer and is not afraid to tell me if something sucks, doesn't make sense or completely misses the audience. Granted, if I'm at work, I'll bug a colleague (or two, or three) first. But lately it's been up to my husband to be my proofreader.

After a final seal of approval, I make the edits, run a spellcheck, read it five more times, attach it to an email and send. Relief. It's gone.

Stage Six: Tick Tock

The worst part is waiting for feedback. It's at this point when I begin to second guess everything: style, tone, length, description, word choice, flow. I know I did my best work, and I already had at least one other person proofread it so I can't be completely off my rocker.

Finally, the feedback arrives:

My second round with OneUpWeb was awesome. I rocked it - they certainly liked what I wrote. I hesistate to say love because only one person has reviewed it with me. I have yet to hear the commentary from other folks at the company. If it's all thumbs up, I'll edit my word choice.

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