blog, Pat Aitcheson writes, writing process

The one thing all true writers do

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Am I a true writer yet?

There’s a ton of advice out there on how to be a better writer. Books, blogs, websites all have a few things to say on the subject. From my seat, I can see seven books about the craft of writing. Two are still on my TBR pile.

I subscribe to blogs such as Writers Helping Writers , Kristen Lamb and Writer Unboxed because I know what I know, and it’s not enough.

Yes, I have a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing. (That makes at least eight craft books.)

Am I a good writer yet? That’s a question I can’t answer, it is mostly down to others to decide. I know this much; I am not good enough yet and I could be better. I will be better if I continue to practise, but this alone does not make me a true writer. The one thing that has been a better teacher than anything else is quite simple.

Finish your stuff.

That’s it.

Simple and yet transformative, as all good advice should be.

Am I a cook if I never serve a finished meal? Am I a musician if I drop my instrument in the middle of a song, never to return? Am I a traveller if I sit down in the road before I reach my destination? Well, kind of… but not really.

Real artists ship.

Steve Jobs, Apple Computers.

Jobs meant that while it is good to have a vision, ultimately you must deliver a finished product.

Getting to the end can be hard. I wrote about my struggle with a story and I get it. Sometimes writing anything at all is the victory. But one day, when I am feeling stronger, I will wrestle that story to some kind of conclusion. Only then is it possible to edit, to look critically, to shape and improve.

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Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing

Leaving work unfinished means you never learn how to craft a satisfying ending. You never learn how to fix that sinking feeling that the story ran out of steam. You never learn that juggling too many subplots is exhausting, and trying to tie them all up is a nightmare.

You never learn what needs to improve, or build the skills to do the job right.

Yes, write more, read more, switch genres, switch locations, whatever it takes to get started. The most important thing to do then, is to grit your teeth and see it through to the end.

Marathon runners talk about the 25th mile. Whether they ran fast or slow, they push through because the end is in sight.

Don’t give up before the finish line, because beyond your resistance lies the prize.

A story is a journey that only makes sense when it reaches its conclusion.

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