Getting started on a writing project and continuing your WIP to completion is a monumental accomplishment. For those of you who have climbed this mountain to apex, Congratulations!
For authors and those desiring to be published, there are interesting theories about psychological blocks that delay your progress or completely torpedo your project. Sometimes, theory is boring. (I know!) That said, one theory that offers insight for those wishing to get “unstuck” and stop procrastination is Prochaska’s Stages of Change. To give full credit, the theory is formally called the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) and it was developed in the late 1970’s by Prochaska and DiClemente.
This model was formulated after studying smokers who had quit on their own versus those who needed further treatment. I believe that we can apply this model to authors with the intention of bringing awareness to the process by which we make change.
Prochaska’s original Stages of Change suggests that to make change a person moves through five stages. Let’s use a struggling author as an example as the stages are explained.
Stage 1: Precontemplation. In this stage, the woman does not intend to take action. The mindset is focused on the cons of writing rather than on the rewards.
Stage 2: Contemplation: “In the future” is often the phrase that best applies to this stage. Here, the woman would like to write a book, thinks about writing, imagines what it may be like, but only contemplates what being an author would be like. She “contemplates” the pros and cons of writing but most often, there is a feeling of ambivalence toward writing.
Stage 3: Preparation: This stage is focused on getting ready for the project. At this stage, there is a realization that writing has positive rewards that outweigh the cons that were felt in the Precontemplation Stage. During preparation, a decision has been made to take action. Some actions a would-be writer may take include: reading many books on the topic they want to write about, taking a writing class, learning to use a writing program, or signing up for a writing group. I believe this is the most important stage. If a person is not adequately prepared, has not planned and put into place a strategy, the likelihood of success is greatly diminished.
Stage 4: Participation/Action: In this stage the writer, writes.
Stage 5: Maintenance. Sustaining the momentum of writing is the point of this stage and authors work hard not to relapse to previous stages. By the time the author has reached stage 5, hopefully a book will be well on its way to publication.
Prochaska’s stages of change is useful in most areas of our lives. Think through a change that you have been delaying. Do you wish to lose weight, walk the dog, remodel the house, start a business, go out with friends? If the answer is yes, you are already in Stage 2. If there are problems and you do not realize them, you are in Stage 1.
It’s when we move from Stage 2-3 that change stands a chance. And, when we move from Stages 3-4 that the likelihood of success skyrockets.
What changes are you considering and what stage are you in?
Angela Grace MA, BCC