About to record WfYL podcast. Quick poll: what motivates you to write?
Finishing something I created.
Finishing is what really gets me on the laptop and hitting those keys. I could think about ideas and story-lines all day without lifting a finger but compiling all those ideas and story-lines into some kind of semi-cohesive structure is what gets the laptop cracked open.
In the famous words of Chuck Wendig;
Finish the shit that you started.
It’s the No.1 rule in his piece, ‘25 Things You Should Know About Writing a Novel‘. His No.1 rule, so it’s not one of those ‘rules are meant to be broken’ rules. It’s a steadfast, rigid, unbendable rule like starting a sentence with a capital letter.
Yes, I’d like to be read and admired, have people fawn over my mind-bending, world changing ideas, get paid, get laid, get wined and dined, who wouldn’t? But I don’t think an unpublished writer without any literary background can begin with these elevated ideas of achievement, it doesn’t seem to be a healthy relationship to have with your own writing. Ego-stroking and material gain as motivation before you’ve even finished anything keeps your eyes on glittery distractions rather than your story.
When I start, my only goal is to finish. After I’ve finished then I dream of million pound book deals, a supermodel on my arm and supercars decorating the obscenely long driveway with a statue of myself in the centre…seriously.
This reminded me of a favourite book of mine when I was a kid, ‘The Magic Paint Brush’ (See video above). A boy gets a paint brush and as soon as he finishes painting something it becomes real. Your novel is nothing until it’s finished. It’s an unfinished novel. It can’t be rewritten, changed, fixed, improved or edited until it’s finished. As soon as it’s finished, your novel becomes real, opening the floodgates to more hard work, but at least you’re working on a completed manuscript, something which has a beginning, a middle and an end. You can see the whole picture and all the story arcs heading towards a satisfying conclusion.
I didn’t want to be someone who said ‘I think I could write a book‘ or have a half-hearted couple of chapters sitting in a drawer somewhere. I’ve started two novels and I’ve finished two novels.
Money and adoration can wait…for a little bit longer!