Finish things. Don’t just finish the ‘good’ things or the ‘best’ things, finish things. We humans get better by doing. Listening to experts, watching how to videos, and reading literature are all good ways to learn, but nothing is a substitute for getting stuck in and practicing our craft.
There’s a helpful thing I remember when thinking about my own story writing. It is not getting paid for writing – for right now I am not paid – that makes me a writer, it is the act of writing. The same goes for making music. It is not getting paid for playing music that makes me a musician, it is the act of playing music. But, as it is my hope to be paid for them I must practice.
Not all of what I produce will be good. Some will probably even be pretty bad. But working hard to finish things will help me get better, and some of the creations will be gems.
Coming to terms with this has been a tough problem for me to solve. Throughout my life I have struggled with feeling I don’t have the right stuff to write stories or music. I see finished products from other talented people, and want the things I produce to instantly be as polished and perfect. I start, make it a significant portion of the way through writing the thing, but then along the way succumb to this feeling and toss the unfinished creation to the side. Thankfully, I have kept most of these creations, either in paper or digital form.
Here’s a nugget of knowledge: there is no substitute for hard work. To get better at writing stories I must write them. And to ensure I can write convincing beginnings, middles, and endings, I must finish writing them. To get better at writing music I must practice both my skills at playing instruments, and finish writing songs.
I have started writing four separate novels. As yet I have finished the first draft of one. But every time I write with intentionality, seeking to make the story better and improve my craft, I am working towards finishing things. Sometimes not the thing I’m working on at the time, but everything I will spend my time writing from that moment forward.
Last year during lockdown my father and I started co-authoring short stories to enter into competitions. So far we have entered four short story competitions and two poetry competitions. We have not yet won, but the process of seeing idea, through development, to finished product, has helped me understand the importance of an encouraging and enthusiastic team. Not just for the end result, but for the enjoyment of the process itself. It also meant acknowledging I was one part of a team, not the sole creator. As such the end results looked different to what I would have produced on my own.
Remember friends there are many different solutions to a problem, and our perception of the best one is just that, our perception.
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Do you struggle with wanting this you create to be perfect the first time?
How do you manage this so you can still practice your craft and create wonderful things?
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Go well into the coming week my friends. PEACE.