The Stages of Change for Writers: Insights from an Online Writing Course

Written by Lyssa Menard

January 17, 2022

Trying to convert my writing style from long-form to short-form feels like it’s breaking my brain. 

My organic style is long-form and, given that I’ve been working on a book recently, that makes sense. Book chapters seem to be my unit of thought.

But writing online is better suited to a shorter format. So I signed up for Ship 30 for 30, a course with the objective of producing 30 short essays (280 words) in so many days. Old horse. New tricks. 

Ten days in, I’m riding a roller-coaster. Ease one day. Agony the next. Yup, that’s the change process. It’s like riding a bronco. You just have to hold on.

The Stages of Change

Traditionally, there are five stages of change. I’ve adapted them to my writing journey.

  1. Ain’t nobody’s business: Prior to Ship 30, I was content with my writing style. It was irrelevant whether or not people read my essays. I was happy in my bubble.
  2. Contemplation: Epiphany: my organic writing approach is exhausting. It’s hard to produce the equivalent of a book chapter on a weekly basis. An awareness was dawning: perhaps a change was in order.
  3. Getting my mind right: I consumed Ship 30 materials (blog posts, videos, podcasts) like consuming was my aspiration. No creation involved. Just prep.
  4. Creation: This is where change happens, and it’s often a struggle. I know what’s needed:  smaller ideas on a daily basis. But that’s a fuzzy concept that I can’t quite seem to implement. My brain needs practice. That’s why this is Ship 30 and not Ship 10.
  5. Celebration: Talk to me about this stage in 20 days. I’m not there yet, but I’m dreamin’ big or…ummm…small.

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