I finished the first draft of my third book yesterday.
I gave myself until the end of March to finish it and I made the cut so I celebrated with a big glass of Riesling left over from my parent’s visit a few weeks ago. Definite time for celebrating. Except now that the first draft is done, it’s back to the beginning to start rewriting and then it’ll be onto the next draft and the next and the next. I’m not sure how other authors do it—if they just keep combing through their stories or if they focus on one part and rework it until it’s perfect. I’m sure there are *tons* of different ways that you can build a story but personally, I just keep going back and making it better.
Just make it better.
That’s what I have to tell myself.
For a long time, I had to get past my own negativities when I would write something and then look back and realize it was complete shit. Okay, maybe not COMPLETE shit, but it definitely had an odor. Why did I think it was good? It was *terrible*and I felt *terrible* for writing something so not share-worthy when I’m supposed to be good at it.
It’s so easy to give up on yourself in the beginning. To take a look at something and think it’s incredibly subpar so it’s obviously not worth it. Or not for you. Or some other excuse to make yourself feel better because you’re not proud of what you did. That’s the dangerous point. Right there. Because you’re holding a gun to your dreams and it’s so damn easy to pull the trigger. Especially if wounded pride is involved. There were *countless* times I thought about giving up and trying a new story or even something different with my life. Yeah, I love to write—it’s my favorite thing on the planet—but I could also be good at interior design. I like hanging things. And picking out paint pallets. That could work.
It’s also incredibly easy to keep switching directions, to keep trying new things because the last thing you did didn’t quite work out. I’m not saying it’s bad to find what you want or what you’re skilled at—that’s a good thing! I totally encourage people to find their passion. But it’s when you know what it is, you know what path you were given and it’s just such a challenge at first that you give it up for something way easier that you don’t like half as much. That’s the death of the dream right there. And it’s a commonly sad, sad story.
The trick is jumping the hurdles. Because that’s all they are—little shit blockades used to deter you from the end. But they’re short for a reason: so you can jump over them and get to the other side. Life is FILLED with hurdles and they’re masked in every different camouflage available. For artists, a lot of it is doubt and fear. I don’t think I’m good enough/I’m afraid to put this out there. What if it sucks? What if I suck? Or maybe that transcends to everything and everyone. But if everyone gave into doubt and fear and tripped and fell over those totally jumpable hurdles, we’d still be back in cave times doubting that a wheel could be of any substantial value. Hurdles are GOOD. Hurdles mean there’s something on the other side. And once you’re there—aha! You’ve done it. You’ve made it. How awesome is that because now you know you can do it. Again and again if you have to.
Picking up the pen or opening the laptop to keep writing after you produced shit the day before is the best thing. Because that’s you jumping high in the air and soaring over your own doubt. Maybe yesterday wasn’t the best day for your work. Today will better. And next week or next month when you come back to it, even better then. Because you keep coming back to it. You keep working on it. You keep making it better.
I will say that when I was writing my first book and really struggling and wondering if it was something I could actually do one day, I would look up a lot of quotes. I get a sort of high when I read inspirational tidbits. It’s like fuel to the passion-o-meter. And there were so many from Ray Bradbury and Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein that I simply *loved*. And still do. The one though, that I think kept me going the most is by Thomas Edison:
Our greatest weakens comes in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.
Bam. Now I’m a believer in my own success.
It’s your turn.