Through our innovative projects, TRACE has spent years consulting hundreds of writers and creatives to explore the ways they improve and develop their craft – and their varying needs as they do so. These people are all unique individuals, with different dreams, abilities, motivations, and temperaments. And yet, we discovered that they often experience and return to similar phases of exploration in their journeys, such as: discovery/idea generation, connection/community, crafting/authorship, and insight/transformation. In short, although every journey is unique, there are always some similar habits and patterns.

Through our creative writing incubator, Paper Nations, we have distilled this knowledge into a cycle, which charts the phases that many people return to when experiencing their own creative journey.

The Writer's Cycle

The cycle takes the form of a solar system. It is non-linear, non-prescriptive, and is adaptable to each person’s needs - because every writing life cycle is different.

We have not created a definitive progression route or an age and stage model. There is no A-B instruction, no “if you’ve done X then the next thing you should do is Y”. The [cycle] is about developing writing habits that are fluid and that can sustain over a lifetime.

Professor Bambo Soyinka, Writing In Education Magazine, Issue 76

This cycle underpins all our work at TRACE, as well as that of Paper Nations. We hope this model will help researchers broaden and improve their research by enabling them to use the same process of exploration and writing to fuel the development of new insights.

Applications Outside of TRACE

Paper Nations will shortly publish the first public-facing version of the Writer’s Cycle, which is specialised to creative writing and is known as the Writer Development Cycle (WDC). The WDC is intended to be used as a tool through which creative writing educators and providers can anticipate the needs of emerging or continuing writers and design courses which reflect and are able to adapt to their needs.