Stages of Newbie Writerly Evolution Mimics the 5 Stages of Grief (Only Backwards)

(gender specific pronoun flopping to prevent exclusion of the sexes in writers. It’s just an experiment and may read terrible, but we’ll give it a try.)


Acceptance. Normal person wakes up one day and decides to write a few lines on an idea for a story or book. She returns the next day and repeats action. Soon she wonders if she could be a writer. Rush of euphoria and neurotransmitter’s fires all the dopamine receptors for pleasure. Yes, she knows it. She feels it. She is a writer and she will not give up until goal is met.


Depression. After reading every craft book mentioned on Writer’s Digest and every top book result in the first page of a Google search, writer realizes he cannot possibly know all there is to know. Worst of all he’s received a rejection on his perfect, obviously genius story.  A chorus of “It will never happen” or “I’m a failure” or “I’ll never be good enough” fills his head.


Barganing. She begins to imagine, “If I just sell one, one teeny, tiny story I can give up with my pride in check. I can show my family I’m not delusional for choosing this path.” She starts to make deals with herself like, “If I sell x stories, I’ll go to ______workshop that will bring my writing to the next level.” Only to eventually go to workshop anyway and begin making more bargains like, “Now that I know what I can do and have new secret weapons, I will only sell to ________markets, because I’m worth much, much more now.”


Anger. Writer is angry he has not sold to expected number of markets or any markets. He begins to tear apart other writers in critiques, find fault in every published story or novel. Wonders if he is the only one on earth who can see that the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey is the sign of a coming bookpoclypse.


Denial/Isolation. The day she has been waiting for finally comes. A sale. A call from an agent. An interested editor in a small book deal. It’s been years writing with no indication of hope and the story that is picked up is the worst story she thinks she’s ever written. She secretly fears the editor will call her up and tell her a mistake has been made. She locks herself away to write even more, convinced she can’t do it again. It must have been a fluke.

But in denial there is always that glimmer of hope. “If I’ve done it once I can do it again.” So it is at this stage that we see the Wonderful Life moment where a bell rings (read printer beeping from empty ink cartridge), and a writer gets his wings (or finding a way to fuse his finger to the keyboard to write again the next day, and the next.) This creates a nirvana-like level of awareness where he realizes there is no spoon, Dr. Malcolm Crowne has been dead the whole time, and Luke Skywalker has an unexpected father. But deep down he fears that with these discoveries another equally rug-from-under-his-feet reveal is about to occur.

Even after a second sale, third, fourth, and beyond happens, writer still cannot believe he/she is a writer. This feeling never goes away.

Congratulations your journey as a writer has now begun.

I love comments! Every time you leave a comment a writer gets his/her wings.  

3 thoughts on “Stages of Newbie Writerly Evolution Mimics the 5 Stages of Grief (Only Backwards)

  1. Tina

    Six is an illusion. A lot like thinking the spoon is still there, Malcolm is alive and really wants to help that poor kid who sees dead people, and Luke and Leia would make a great couple.


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