Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Best Advice

This is another post I should save for NAF, but I hate finding pics to go with topics.

Finish what you start writing. It's that simple.

I should have taken the time and energy 23 years ago to finish the stories I am trying to write today. I didn't have the discipline back then, but that would have been an excellent thing to practice, too.

When you're 19 years old, and you come up with a story idea, odds are it's going to be fairly simple. Doesn't mean it's bad. Just means it's not going to have the same kind of complexity that a writer with more life experiences can add (nothing like a job, a mortgage, and 8 mouths to feed to teach you about layers of conflict). Fewer characters. More direct, obvious plot ideas. A thick, black Sharpie line of a story. That's fine when you're 19 years old. You earn your million words of practice, so you may as well earn it finishing such ideas as jumping from idea to idea and only writing the "interesting" parts, which is what I did. That's why I have a bunch of story "fragments" I used to consider book-worthy.

Problem is, when a writer tries to take those 23 year old ideas and mold them into what she now considers "book-worthy," more often than not, they don't fit. There are some good ideas, and a dollop of passion or conflict, but she's learned that's not all that goes into a good book. They might make novellas. They might make fine short stories or chapters, but they aren't going to carry 100K words into the hearts of her fans. "A closet nerd takes an unexpected trip through time with a robot assassin" is a good elevator pitch, but if you don't have more than that to back it up, you're humped.

But what if you want your older self experience to make something great out of those old ideas? Well, good luck. I suspect if you finish them when you're young, you'll clear the way for bigger, better, more complex ideas that grow with you. Like Aslan. 

I have a lot of 23 year old story ideas, but those may not a book make. Dangling Justice is about that closet nerd, but my 19 year old self didn't know about Ah'rahk, or Caissa, or Rhami when she thought of that idea with the robot assassin. Now my 42 year old self has the job of turning a simple idea into something worth writing, and hopefully, worth reading.

Happy Thursday, dear readers.  Finish what you start writing. Words to live by.

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