Finish What You Start

I came across yet another site that has provided an endless source of inspiration and motivation for me. I wish I could remember how I found this site, what led me to it that first time. I’m going to share it with you in the hopes that it will help some of you as much as it has helped me.

Writing Excuses ~ This is a website with a TON of podcasts run by authors Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, and Dan Wells, as well as cartoonist Howard Tayler (Schlock Mercenary!). I love the way they run their podcasts – they don’t piss around. Their casts are about 15 minutes each. They don’t drone on and on about nothing – they have a new topic for each cast and that’s what they cover. When they say they’re going to cover something in a future podcast, they do it. The cumulative amount of talent and success from these writers is incredible. If you’ve ever been stuck at any point in your writing career, I encourage you to check it out. They post a new podcast every week.

The best part for me when I’m listening to these is the fact that these guys are professional writers – they have worked their asses off and achieved success doing what they love to do – and they have actually been through a lot of the rough spots that I’m currently struggling with. They explain some of the things that are difficult for them, even after publishing several books, and how to push through it and keep going. It comforts me to know that successful authors have the same problems I do.

So far, the thing that has stuck with me the most was the idea of finishing what you start. Brandon Sanderson said that for new writers, it’s much more important to learn to finish your books than it is to write something awesome.

Something I’ve always beat myself up over is moving from story to story, discarding it as total garbage before even giving it the chance it deserves to become a good story. Every word of crap that I write is a stepping stone. It’s practice. That’s what writers need to do, isn’t it? Write. Practice. I need to get through my novels from start to finish before I can fully understand what needs to be repaired. I’m one of those types that will write a few beginning chapters and move on when what I consider to be a better idea comes along. I never give anything the chance to get better. I never give myself the chance to get better.

So that is where I’m at in my journey. In all this time, I’ve only actually completed one draft of a book – last year’s Nano novel. After November, I went on to finish the first draft and even began the first rewrite before deciding to focus on fantasy. It was crap. The idea was awesome, but the execution… not so much. And yet, I was immensely proud of myself for not only flying through the 50k for NaNoWriMo, but continuing on through the ending. I now have a real first draft, the skeleton of a novel that I can later rewrite and repair when the time is right.

My personal goal now is to be ready for the point in my fantasy novel where I will try to convince myself it’s terrible and un-publishable. I know me well enough to know that this point will come. This time though, I’ll be prepared. Because I know now that it is crucial to my future writing career to push through and finish the draft.