Mastering Mood-Dependent Writing Stages

One day this week I was tired and headache-y, yet I needed to get some writing done. I don’t know about you, but I find writing a grueling challenge on the rare days I feel rotten.

That’s why I found a chapter in The Write Type by Karen E. Peterson very encouraging. The author said that not all the stages of producing a story or book involve heavy-duty creative thinking. If you’re not feeling the best some days, use that time for a writing job that requires less energy–but still has to be done sometime.

Three of the following stages you’ll be familiar with (prewriting, writing and rewriting.) The other three stages are writing jobs you have to do but rarely give yourself credit for.

Stages of Writing

  • Read-writing: Reading what you’ve already written before revising
  • Co-writing: Discussing with another writer what you want to write or have written, getting feedback and encouragement
  • Rote-writing: typing up lists, references, and hand-written revisions
  • Prewriting: Gathering notes, ideas, and resources, plus jotting down ideas or outlines
  • Writing: creating the story, article, poem, or book
  • Rewriting: editing, revising and proofing

What To Do?

Each stage of writing requires a different kind of energy and concentration. What is most helpful is to match your energy level to the task. It all has to be done at some point, but much of it doesn’t have to be done in order.

And if you’re exhausted, start with the easiest task. That’s what I did. I had go through some photos I’d taken, find and watch a couple of YouTube videos on a process I couldn’t quite picture, type up a list from scraps of notes, and re-read a revised chapter to see if it held together.

It took a couple of hours, I made progress, I got some needed writing jobs done on the project, and I didn’t make my headache worse. A good day!

And tomorrow I’ll undoubtedly be ready for one of the more “creative thinking” jobs.

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6 Responses to Mastering Mood-Dependent Writing Stages

  1. Anne Bromley says:

    Thank you, Kristi, for sharing this excellent post. This is a great reminder that writing is a process and not an event.

    • kwpadmin says:

      You’re welcome, Anne. If you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll inevitably run into periods where you NEED to work, but your body is saying “bleah!” This helps redeem the time! :-)

  2. Megan Vance says:

    Thank you for sharing. I was not allowing it to “count” if it wasn’t fresh writing every day. :(


    • kwpadmin says:

      Megan, I think that’s a mistake we all have to learn to rectify eventually. So much of writing is pre-writing or re-writing! The rough draft stage of producing fresh new writing is a pretty short period, overall. It all needs to be done, and it all counts! 8-) (P.S. Read your 4/13 blog. We could be soul sisters.)

  3. This advice comes along at the perfect time. I had a couple of migraine days last week in the middle of a challenge I’ve set to write every day. I managed to push through one day with some new words, but not the other. Now I have some strategies to help me make progress when new words just can’t make it to the page. Thanks!

    • kwpadmin says:

      Heather, I’m sorry about your headaches! They have plagued me off and on since my twenties, and they are hard to write through. But there are many important writing jobs that don’t involve pulling new words out of thin air. Many of them actually used to help distract me from the headache, especially if I needed to research a subject I was truly interested in. Good luck!

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