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My Writing Stages of Grief

While exploring the character arc of her protagonist, young adult fiction writer Jenny Morelli realizes her writing journey follows the five stages of grief.

By Jenny Morelli

August 17, 2023

I found Lou Storey’s Psychology of Character Transformation class to be very useful to help me dramatize my character’s psychological arc. For me that meant exploring the stages of grief my main character experienced after her twin sister’s suicide. Along the way, I realized my writing process follows the same stages. 

1. First, there’s DENIAL. This is where I stare at a blank page for hours, days, even weeks denying my talent, truly believing I don’t have what it takes to be a writer.

2. Then comes ANGER because darn it, I’ve read way too many books to not believe I can write them, too, especially after all the workshops I’ve taken with PWN and all the support I’ve received and given; especially after putting my manuscript through a four-year wringer and not even recognizing it from original to almost-ready-for-submission after all my many revisions. I’d be furious with myself if I didn’t even try to put it out there for publication.

3. Next comes BARGAINING. This is when I sit myself down in front of my bathroom mirror and have a heart-to-heart with myself. “If you don’t write something,” I tell myself without blinking, “you can’t workshop it. If you don’t workshop it, you can’t submit it. If you don’t submit it, you’ll never know.”

4. This is followed by a DEPRESSION caused by the mere thought of rejection. I think about Stephen King’s writing room that he wallpapered with his many rejections before his first acceptance. I’m not sure I can handle even one rejection, much less enough to wallpaper my writing room. The thought of that many rejections sends me into a nosedive spiral toward an impassive and unforgiving wall of depression. But then, I face a truth that leads me to where I am now …

5. At last, I have ACCEPTANCE, that I am a writer who has something to say. I’m a writer who has something to share with others who’ve been through the struggles I’ve been through. I will continue to suffer through each of writing’s arduous stages again and again and again because of another thing I have accepted: although writing appears on the surface to be a lonely endeavor, I have found a community that I know will stand by me every step of the way, with every word I write and share and revise, and that has made me believe in myself and know that this is my passion. 

There is nothing more fulfilling than writing and being comfortable enough to workshop my pieces with like-minded people who give positive vibes with their encouragement and helpful feedback. These writers accept me wholeheartedly so that I can believe in myself and my work. The struggle may be real, but it’s also very rewarding.

Jenny Morelli

Jenny Morelli is an English teacher currently residing in New Jersey where she is working on two young adult fiction novels in book inc.

Jenny Morelli is an English teacher currently residing in New Jersey where she is working on two young adult fiction novels in book inc.