The Emotional Phases of Writing

Hi friends! As my inaugural blog, I will (slightly begrudgingly) introduce myself, which is a bit of a nightmare for an introvert. But here it goes! My name is Dana, and I write romance novels. Everything from squeaky clean, to steamy queer, to rom-com. Give me all the love in all the forms.

My quick story on my writing journey. I first started writing in July 2021. Twenty months later, I finished four full-length manuscripts, signed my first publishing contract, and received my second publishing offer for a different manuscript.

Ok, now on to the blog. When I first started writing, I was so intimidated. My last formal education in writing was in the late 90s in a high school creative writing class. (I’m aging myself, but whatever. Proud Gen X’er here raised by Pearl Jam and Nirvana). But the words flowed with the story I wanted to tell, and I was hooked. I have since learned, for me, there are four main emotional phases in writing.

Phase 1: Delusional Confidence

This state of being is a gift; when it arrives, enjoy it. With a satisfied cross of arms, I completed my first novel and declared to the universe that this was a bestseller, and the book would be picked up by Hollywood within a year for movie rights. That was a beautiful moment.

Then I sent a few chapters off to a beta reader who kindly, graciously pointed out sweeping errors. Head-hoping within chapters. A full two chapters of all backstory and NO DIALOGUE (um, what?). And these weren’t any baby chapters, either. They were a whopping 20 pages each. Oof. Past and present tense. The list goes on. The plot may have been good-ish, but the writing was not.

Phase 2: I. Know. Nothing.

You know that phrase the more you learn, the less you know? Once I started researching what “head-hopping was” (for those of you who don’t know, it’s using two characters’ thoughts within the same scene. Choose one, my friend, no matter how clever their thoughts may be!). I started down a frantic rabbit hole to learn as much of the craft as possible. I bought lots, and I mean lots of books. Below is a sampling of a few of my favorites:

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
  • Method Acting for Writers by Lisa Hall-Wilson
  • Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
  • Anatomy of Prose by Sacha Black

I listened to every podcast I could. Below are some of my favorite:

  • The Shit No One Tells You About Writing
  • Badass Writers with Kathleen Fox
  • Fiction Writing Made Easy with Samantha Guthrie

The more I learned, the less I knew.

Phase 3: Maybe I got this

I met a fantastic critique partner (check back for how to find one for yourself!) and started building back my confidence. Not quite to the delusional confidence level, but once in a while, that beautiful friend would pop up for a quick visit when I reread something I forgot I wrote.

I tweaked and edited and came up with a pretty good story. And then I did it again, and one more time. Finally, I was ready to query (check back again for info on queries).

Phase 4: Imposter Syndrome

I got a book deal! How in the h.e.double hockey sticks did that happen? And what is a dangling modifier again? And possessive pronouns, and third person limited, and structure vs. plot vs. pacing, and talk to me again about why exposition in dialogue is bad… Gah!

I will forever have imposter syndrome to some degree, which is ok. It keeps folks humble.

Phase 5. I definitely got this!

This is what I’ve learned. Do you need a degree to be a writer? No. If you have an MFA- great! Congrats. That’s a huge accomplishment. Did you always intend to get your GED but never did? All good. You got this! Everyone has a story. Why not just give it a shot and write one down?

2 responses to “The Emotional Phases of Writing”

  1. Such a great post! This content will be very helpful for authors to understand where they are in their writing journey and what is coming next. Thank you for writing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] In episode two of the Author(ish) podcast, based off a blog Dana wrote, Dana and Amy talk about the Emotional Phases of Writing. You can read the blog by clicking here. […]


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