The Copy Cat

Coming March 2020

Wendy’s Four Stages of Starting a New Writing Project


Every time I start a new book I seem to do two things:

  1. I read as much good writing as I can get my hands on to inspire me; and
  2. I review my writing bibles for little nuggets of information that will help me with the task


I need to add the third, the most important, thing I do every time I begin a new book:


I feel completely incapable of writing a book


It’s a horrible feeling.

In Stage One, I scan others’ books looking for clues.

“Hey,” I think, “Maybe old so-and-so will show me how to write a book.”

This is not a good thing. Because I always come away in awe of old so-and-so’s talent and begin to second-guess every choice I make.



Then I move on to Stage Two of the process:

In Stage Two, I begin to wonder how I wrote other books.

I question the sanity of my agent, my editors. I worry for them. They have made a terrible mistake.

WHO was that person who did THAT? I suspect demonic possession, divine intervention, I am certain that there is another me, living in an alternate universe, who KNOWS how to do this thing.



I look at the other books I wrote and I wonder why and how I made the choices I made.

Stage two is not fun.

Eventually, I pass out of it, only to move on to Stage three:

In Stage Three, I PREPARE

This is like the boy scout section of the process. I research. I write character sketches. I do timelines. I do several drafts of the plot. I map out scenes. I think thematically.

Basically, I torture myself.

But I can’t write unless I know enough about my characters and my story to keep it going. Many a book has never been created because its author got stuck in the middle and couldn’t go on. We’e all abandoned stories midway because we got lost…


Finally, after all of this, I am ready for Stage Four.

I clean my office.


I protect my schedule, because I truly prefer to whip up a draft in less than six weeks, four if I can.


And then I write. And oddly enough, when I begin to write, I remember how to do it. It won’t be like the other projects, but it will be just right for this new one.

Oh and then I collapse. And eat a lot of chocolate.

How about you?

I’d love to hear how you prepare!




Author of Children's Literature