Nancy Pickard

Seven Steps on the Writer's Path

Nancy Pickard
  1. “If you read for pleasure, there’s probably more pleasure per inch in Pickard’s work than almost any other current crime novelist.”
    Cleveland Plain Dealer
  2. “Pickard has evolved into a novelist of substantial literary power.”
    The Denver Post

How to tell if you're on . . .

Step One: Unhappiness

Clues in Your Feelings & Thoughts: dry, restless, thinking there must be something better in life, finding praise hollow and your current work meaningless. Unfulfilled, uninspired, not enthusiastic, bored, stuck, anxious, ashamed, fearful, angry, miserable, guilty, despondent, hopeless. (Remember, this is a continuum that can range from merely “itchy” to dramatically unhappy.)

Telltale Behaviors: wishing, writer’s block, procrastination, worrying about when your next project is due but not working on it, looking busy but not being busy with your real work, constantly comparing yourself to others and yet always falling short, trudging.

Key Words for Getting Through it: Feel and Reveal.

Step Two: Wanting

Feelings & Thoughts: You’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. You want it, you want it bad, and you want it now. Longing, jealousy, insecurity, self-pity, frustration, anger. “I never get what I want. Why does it take so long? Everyone else gets the breaks. I’m unlucky. Other people have what I want.”

Behaviors: moping, pouting, whining, complaining about how bad you feel, how unfair life is, more comparing yourself to others, being demanding, asking and begging.

Key Words: Focus and Collect.

Step Three: Commitment

Feelings & Thoughts: Energized, excited, happy, relaxed, focused, high, hopeful, eager, anticipatory. “I’ve got to make plans, set dates, set deadlines. I can’t wait to get started! I’m on my way. I can do it. Yes!”

Behaviors: Scheduling, planning, organizing, brainstorming, creating outlines, working on a proposal, clearing a calendar, getting a few words down on paper.

Key Words: Decide and Set in Motion.

Step Four: Wavering

Feelings & Thoughts: self-doubt, scared, malaise, anxious, restless, feel stupid, unsure, discouraged, overwhelmed, panicked, tired. “What if I can’t do it? What will people say? What if my writing is bad? I must have been crazy to think I could do this. It’s too big. It’s too scary. I’ll never be able to do it.”

Behaviors: Lying on your back staring at the ceiling, playing too many computer games, searching the Web for “interesting” items, shopping on Ebay, going to the movies, watching TV, playing cards, sleeping a lot, eating a lot, drinking a lot, going through old outlines and books, getting over-involved in other people’s lives, dreaming up worst-case scenarios, depressing or scaring yourself to death.

Key Words: Face Fears and Align Core Values.

Step Five: Letting Go

Feelings & Thoughts: Peace, relief, freedom, exhilaration, joy, and lightness. “Amazing. Wow. Whew. Thank goodness. Now I can do it. I’m glad that’s over. Can’t wait to get started again.” Or, “Well, at least now I know. I’m relieved that’s over. Glad I didn’t make that mistake.”

Behaviors: Taking risks, leaping into the unknown, showing courage, taking a leap of faith, allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

Telltale signs for just this step: Doors open for you, help or guidance arrives just when you need it most, there are happy coincidences and synchronicities, good fortune, a feeling that all’s right with the world and everything is going to work out fine.

Key Words: Release and Cross Over

Step Six: Immersion

Feelings & Thoughts: When it’s going well, you may feel tired, achy, and jazzed. Guilty for ignoring everything else. In a trance, blissed out, or oblivious. When it’s not going well, you may feel frustrated, nervous, worried, annoyed, irritable. “I want to be alone. I don’t want to stop. I wish the phone would stop ringing! Why won’t everybody just leave me alone?! My neck hurts, my shoulders hurt, my back hurts. Why is the refrigerator empty? Where did all my clean clothes go?”

Behaviors: Lost in your work, making yourself inaccessible, surrounded by papers, books, moldy coffee cups, and you probably don’t look so hot, yourself! But the work is getting done, and that’s all that matters to you now.

Key Words: Resolved and Preoccupied.

Step Seven: Fulfillment

Feelings & Thoughts: Joy, relief, exhilaration. Or it feels like a letdown like coming off a high. “I really did it. What now? Can I do it again? Can I take a break? I’m sad, I’m happy, I’m exhausted, I’m on top of the world, I don’t want it to end, I’m so glad it’s over.”

Behaviors: Having fun, seeing friends, raising a toast, cleaning the house, getting your hair cut at last, going shopping, going on vacation, sleeping in and loving it.

Key Words: Celebrations, Endings and Beginning Anew.

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