I’ve written about my writing process before, usually in the context of what physically happens at each stage. I haven’t been as honest with you about the emotional stages of writing a book.

Sometimes it’s not pretty. Sometimes it’s not flattering. Sometimes it isn’t anything I would share with you…

Except in this lovely infographic I just made.

Rebecca Chastain Mental Process while Writing a Book

I wanted to familiarize you with my internal process so the rest of this post would make sense.

You see, the writing has been going s l o w lately. I’ve been slogging through scene after scene, during which important information has been revealed, but it’s been boring.

I am officially in the “It Might All Be Crap” phase.

I’m 40,000 words into the novel and having a hard time remembering exactly which details I included in earlier chapters.

But I’m also 40,000 words into the novel, and the writing should be going faster by now.

I tried cleaning my desk. That helped…just not in the way I thought it would. It gave me clarity to better focus on the writing, but it didn’t speed anything up.

So I did what I do when I’m feeling sluggish: I went on a walk. I needed to get the wheels of my brain unstuck and the physical process of moving forward often does the trick.

More words appeared on the page when I got back, so I transition to the elliptical, and dictated another 2,000 words before the end of the day. Look at me. I’m an accomplished writer. A pro. So why didn’t I feel better?

Then I went on another walk, this time with my husband. All the day’s frustrations came pouring out, and I explained to him that I had even created a document for myself with instructions to make the next book more exciting.

Just saying the words out loud spiraled me into a funk, so I did what came naturally: flopped on my bed and examined the back of my eyelids. Then I stared at the ceiling fan. Then I studied the texture of the ceiling.

In the throws of this riveting visual exploration, it finally hit me why my own words had me teetering on the verge of depression: I didn’t want to wait to make the next book better. I want to make this book better.

I know. I can be dense sometimes, but once I realized the problem, I realized the reason I had been having such a hard time writing those boring scenes was because—gasp—they were boring. If they were boring for me, they were going to be doubly boring for you.

In other words, I wasn’t experiencing a mere case of “It Might All Be Crap.” It was a case of “It Definitely IS Crap.”

Another hour of ceiling contemplation, and I had an inkling of the changes I might need to make. Wonderful. I decided to set it aside for the next day and work on it when I wasn’t hungry for dinner.

Which, of course, meant the moment I turned out the lights that night and my husband and cat dropped off to sleep beside me, my story brain kicked on.

I don’t normally get up at night for story ideas. I learned long ago that if they’re good, they’ll still be there in the morning. However, last night, I heaved myself out of bed and spent the next hour and a half hand writing three pages of text-cramped notes to myself about the changes this novel needs.

The good news: I don’t have to trash the entirety of the 40,000 words I have.

The even better news: Headlines & Hydras is going to be a book I’m proud of, and a book you’ll enjoy.

Four or five books ago, this sort of mid-book revelation might have depressed me. I keep thinking I’m going to reach a point where I know enough about putting a book together that I won’t run into these problems. Maybe I will someday, but for today, I’m happy that I know enough to recognize the problem and how to do something to fix it.