You want to be a writer? I can help you. I have your plan right here. And it’s dead fucking simple. Only two steps. That’s ten less than alcoholics have. Ten whole less steps! Fuck, babies manage two steps before falling down. Surely you can do it?
All right, enough beating around the bush. Here’s the plan. You need to do two things.
Most people can manage the first one*, but I meet a hell of a lot of people who can’t figure out the second part. They start things, they write, but they never finish. Everything’s always ‘in progress’ or ‘half done’ or ‘being worked on.’ Nothing wrong with that stuff, but sooner or later you have to finish things. Here’s why:
It’s an accomplishment. You are no longer a writer with half a novel, or five-eights of a short story. You have a complete work. It might suck, it might need more polishing than the Hope Diamond, but it’s done. You climbed that mountain. Good on you.
It’s a fixer-upper. Hard to fix things that aren’t done. You go back, thinking you’ll just change one thing, and that thing snowballs into another thing, and another. Before you know it, you’ve started the same story eighteen times and are no closer to finishing the goddamn thing than you are to achieving cold fusion in your food processor. Get to the end, then look back and see what needs to change. It’ll be clearer. Trust me.
It’s a learning experience. I finished my first novel about five years ago, and it sucked. It still does. But I learned a hell of a lot from it. Mostly what not to do. Now, that thing will likely never see the light of day, but I still think of it fondly from time to time.** Because it was my first, and you never forget your first. Or what you learned from the experience.
It’s a power up. Nothing gives you creative wings like finishing a project. I finished a short story this morning and have since learned to walk on water, spontaneously generated candy from nail clippings***, and achieved cold fusion without a food processor. And I blew through the rest of my to do list with a swagger in my step. Because finishing things is awesome.
Go forth and finish, children. Bask in the glow. Enjoy the moment.
And then put on your editing brain and get back to work.
*And a lot of people can’t, but I’m not talking to them. Mostly because they make me angry.
**And will continue to do so as long as I never have to read it again.
***It wasn’t very good.