About the Post

Author Information

Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Word Counts Work – In 1 Out of 6 Stages


Setting a goal to write so many words a day (as Stephen King and many other writers do) can work for you, but only when you’re generating new material. That might seem obvious, but keep in mind, there are six stages in the creative process and in only one of those six stages do you have your fingers on the keyboard or pen on the page.

Trying to hit a word-count goal when in you’re in any of the other five stages will be an exercise in frustration. This is one of the reasons I use the term “Product Time” instead of “writing time” and why I recommend you make commitments to show up for a specified amount of time, not a certain number of words.

What you should do during your Product Time depends on which of those six stages you’re in. I explain the stages of the Creative Process, how they differ and how you can move through them more effectively in my Writing Habit class. I also address this topic in my upcoming book Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance* (*Including Writer’s Block, Procrastination, Paralysis, Perfectionism, Postponing, Distractions, Self-Sabotage, Excessive Criticism, Overscheduling and Endlessly Delaying Your Writing).

I can’t give you that much detail in a blog post, but I can give you the highlights in this and my next post. I do hope you’ll be intrigued and consider taking the Writing Habit class the next time it’s offered at the Loft.

Stage 1: First Insight

In this stage, you’re looking for your next writing project or the next phase of a larger project. You wonder “what if, how about, why not…” You may be reading widely to see what grabs your attention, completing an Interest Inventory (available in the Writing Habit class or by emailing me), freewriting, clustering, mind mapping, and using other brainstorming methods.

Notice that even when you’re freewriting, you’re not drafting the actual piece yet and not likely to produce significant word counts, so this is not that one stage in six to use word counts.

Stage 2: Saturation

In this research stage you seek as much information as you can about the topic, characters, setting, etc. You read, interview people and use search engines, questionnaires, surveys, field research, etc. This stage is much more about input than output, so word counts aren’t much use here.

Stage 3: Incubation

After you’ve gathered so much information, your conscious mind won’t be able to make sense of it for awhile. Your main job is to keep your conscious mind occupied with some small thing so your unconscious is free to search for new associations and connections. You might take a walk or a nap, freewrite questions and answers, try to explain the problem to someone else, cluster, brainstorm, doodle, or get your body busy.

Hazards of Incubation

If you don’t understand what Incubation is and what to do to move through it, this stage can be very frustrating. You might think you’re blocked, even though this is a natural part of the creative process. Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to get through this stage, you might create a block. There isn’t much point in taking in any more information and you won’t be ready to write until you move through the next stage, Illumination, which we’ll review in the next post.

Patience is essential during Incubation; cracking the egg open early to see what’s happening inside only kills the chick.

Part 2 of Word Counts Work…

Tags: , , , , ,

41 Comments on “Word Counts Work – In 1 Out of 6 Stages”

  1. harga hp zte axon 7 October 31, 2016 at 10:16 am #

    I was curious if you ever considered changing the page layout of your
    blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

    Like

    • rosannebane November 3, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback, Harga. I’ll keep your ideas in mind the next time I modify the template (much of the formatting is controlled by the template and I’m not skilled enough to modify the code). I agree that images are important and I spend as much time finding and formatting images as I do with the text. Like most writers, my time is limited and I need to reserve time for my fiction and my next nonfiction book.

      Like

  2. Jan July 21, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    In forming my story, I have pages of what ifs, and then. It wasn’t working. I saw that my problem was an antagonist that was not strong enough to face off my protagonist. Okay, more pages. I feel like I’m caught in a circle and feeling frustrated. Yes, I feel blocked, I can’t see, or feel, my story. I don’t want to give up, and I keep being drawn to this story. Is this a hazard of incubation?

    Like

  3. antalya escort May 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    Appreciating the time and effort you put into your blog and in depth information you
    present. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Excellent read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to
    my Google account.

    Like

  4. dentist appointment August 27, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    Thanks for finally writing about >Word Counts Work – In 1 Out of 6 Stages
    | The Bane of Your Resistance <Liked it!

    Like

  5. pawn shops open on sunday in dallas tx August 25, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so
    I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any points for first-time blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

    Like

    • rosannebane August 26, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      Start by answering these questions: What do I want to write about? What’s the theme or major focus of my blog? Who would benefit from reading this blog?

      Like

  6. practicing meditation August 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    I know this site offers quality based articles or reviews and extra information, is there any other site which presents
    such information in quality?

    Like

  7. Debra July 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to check it out.
    I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Great blog and fantastic style and design.

    Like

    • rosannebane July 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      Thanks Debra, I’m delighted to hear you’re finding valuable information here. And thanks for sharing my blog with your followers.

      Like

  8. rea May 29, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    bookmarked!!, I really like your site!

    Like

  9. telecharger subway surfers April 21, 2014 at 5:52 am #

    Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell
    someone!

    Like

    • rosannebane April 23, 2014 at 8:17 am #

      Ouch! I understand the urge to share that story.
      If the urge persists with other situations, however, I must recommend you create opportunities to share your writing on a regular basis, perhaps by writing guest posts or even your own blog… 😉

      Like

  10. Hugh July 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would love to have
    you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would enjoy your work.
    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

    Like

  11. Gregory May 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Excellent post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?

    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Kudos!

    Like

    • rosannebane May 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

      Thanks Gregory! I’ll put that on the list of future blog topics — and I do love getting suggestions for what readers want more of. If you have any specific questions or specific areas you’d like more exploration/elaboration on, please let me know. Thanks again!

      Like

  12. Bernard May 24, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    These are really great ideas in concerning blogging.

    You have touched some good factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    Like

  13. Kathleen May 18, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    Thanks , I’ve just been looking for info approximately this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I have found out till now. However, what about the bottom line? Are you sure concerning the supply?

    Like

    • rosannebane May 23, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Great question, Kathleen! What I’ve found for myself, my students and coaching clients, and colleagues is that when we consistently show up for what I call Product Time (aka “writing time”) and focus our attention on the project at hand, great progress can be made in as little as 15 minutes a day, 2 or 3 days a week.

      When I finished the manuscript for Around the Writer’s Block (after getting a contract from Tarcher), I set targets for 2 to 7 hours a day, but my commitment never varied from 15 minutes a day, five days a week, M-F. Some days I met my targets, some days I exceed them, some days I didn’t meet my targets. I always honored my commitment. Bottom line: I submitted the completed manuscript to my editor a month BEFORE the contracted due date.

      Consistently honoring the commitment counts far more than the amount of time of the commitment or the target. See my article in the Huffington Post for more about why 15 minutes is so effective (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rosanne-bane/10-reasons-to-invest-in-1_b_1778560.html)

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Do Writers Need to Keep Our Butts in the Chair? | Bane of Your Resistance - July 21, 2017

    […] or pen on the page happens only in Stage 5 of the six stages of the creative process. (More about stages of creative process or in chapter 4 of AWB.) Daydreaming, brainstorming, researching, even staring out the window while […]

    Like

  2. Only Writing Is Writing, Right? Wrong! | Bane of Your Resistance - June 1, 2017

    […] There is so much more to a writing project than drafting, revising and rewriting. There are six stages in the creative process and only in the fifth stage do we actually get our fingers on the keyboard or pen on the […]

    Like

  3. When Research Blocks Your Writing, Questions are the Answer | Bane of Your Resistance - February 16, 2017

    […] list of open-ended questions is your map. The first step in the creative process, First Insight, is to draw your […]

    Like

  4. Love it or Hate it, Research Can Block Your Writing | Bane of Your Resistance - February 10, 2017

    […] they love it, but because they’re resisting the next step in the creative process, which is Incubation. (Stages of the creative process are described in Chapter 4 of […]

    Like

  5. Writers Who Don’t Track History Are Doomed… | Bane of Your Resistance - December 16, 2016

    […] what stages of the creative process are you more likely to meet your targets? Are there stages you typically struggle […]

    Like

  6. What Else Looks Like Writer’s Block But Isn’t | Bane of Your Resistance - August 12, 2016

    […] of the Creative Process. (More about the Stages of the Creative Process in Chapter 4 of AWB or here.) It’s important to remember that the actual fingers-on-keyboard or pen-on-page part of a writing […]

    Like

  7. So You’re a Frustrated Writer… Are You Frustrated Enough? | Bane of Your Resistance - July 21, 2016

    […] what moves you from Incubation to the satisfying “a-ha” of Illumination. (Read more about the 6 Stages of the Creative Process or find a comprehensive discussion in Chapter 4 of Around the Writer’s […]

    Like

  8. Writer’s Naptime or Craptime? | Bane of Your Resistance - May 5, 2016

    […] Stage. (Verification is the fifth stage in the 6 Stages of the Creative Process — read more here or find a comprehensive discussion in Chapter 4 of Around the Writer’s […]

    Like

  9. Why Write At All? | Bane of Your Resistance - March 4, 2016

    […] Yet I’ve learned that frustration and failing are essential to the creative process. (In fact, they are the stars of the third of six stages of the creative process.) […]

    Like

  10. Writers in the World: Gathering Breadcrumbs | Mentors for Rent - April 26, 2015

    […] acted as my creative coach for many years, and she encouraged me to remember that (as she says here), “There are six stages in the creative process and in only one of those six stages do you have […]

    Like

  11. Only the Good Get Blocked | The Bane of Your Resistance - August 19, 2014

    […] the fact that this sort of “block” could more accurately be identified as the Incubation stage of the creative […]

    Like

  12. Questions are the Answer for Writers Who Resist Research and Writers Who Can’t Stop | The Bane of Your Resistance - August 12, 2014

    […] list of open-ended questions is your map. The first step in the creative process, First Insight, is to draw your map. The second stage, Saturation (aka research), is to follow your map as far as […]

    Like

  13. Writers Who Resist Research and Writers Who Can’t Stop | The Bane of Your Resistance - August 6, 2014

    […] Some writers will you they get stuck in the research because they love it. Whether they know it or not, many writers get stuck in research not only because they love it, but because they’re resisting the next step in the creative process, which is Incubation. […]

    Like

  14. Don’t Know How to Start Writing? Don’t Let That Stop You! | The Bane of Your Resistance - November 26, 2013

    […] When you showup for “Product Time,” there’s always something you can do to further a writing project or develop your writing craft. But “writing time” implies only drafting, revising and editing; in other words, the activities that make up Stage 5 of the Creative Process. […]

    Like

  15. Are You Blocked or Hibernating? | The Bane of Your Resistance - July 23, 2013

    […] can move through the stages of the creative process many times in one project. The drafting or revising you do in Verification can cause you to ask new […]

    Like

  16. Writer’s Block Quiz | The Bane of Your Resistance - July 16, 2013

    […] and Hibernation, the third and sixth stages in the creative process, can look and feel an awful lot like writer’s […]

    Like

  17. Get Ready for NaNoWriMo: Make October NaShoUpoWriMo! « The Bane of Your Resistance - October 3, 2012

    […] is committing to. Or you can show up for Product Time. (What other people call writing time, I call Product Time because there is so much more to completing a writing project that just drafting and editing.) You […]

    Like

  18. Eight Essentials Every Writer Must Master – Part 3 « The Bane of Your Resistance - June 4, 2012

    […] find a fair overview of the creative process in a previous post. If you’d like deeper understanding, you’ll find that in my Writing Habit […]

    Like

  19. Can You Dig Your Way Out of a Creative Dry Spell? « The Bane of Your Resistance - March 16, 2012

    […] to return is a legitimate solution to a creative dry spell when you’re in Hibernation (the 6th Stage in the Creative Process that follows the completion of a big project). There are things you can do to help move yourself […]

    Like

  20. Word Counts Work – In 1 Out of 6 Stages Part 2 « The Bane of Your Resistance - August 25, 2011

    […] my previous post, I explained that setting a goal for writing so many words a day can only work in one out of the […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: