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December 22, 2012
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Why You Should Keep Writing

Journal Entry: Sat Dec 22, 2012, 2:11 PM
The Text by merrak


Q: What do you guys think of my story so far? Should I keep going?

This seems to be a very popular question. I'll argue it's a useless question, and explain why.

This reply is directed at new writers, and despite the tone that may follow, I really do intend to be sincere and helpful. I was once a newbie, too. And although I'm certainly not going to claim to be great, I've fallen flat on my face enough times to learn how to pick myself up and produce something I'm proud of.

Here's why you need to not ask this question. You're either going to succeed, or you're going to fail. But, either way, you'll be better off for having:

1. Tried
2. Figured out how to motivate yourself to continue
3. Completed the entire first run of the story yourself

1 ~ I can speculate that there are plenty of people out there who are afraid of failure. I know first-hand. I'm not a professional writer. I teach mathematics. And it is my job every Fall to convince a hundred freshmen that to get anywhere, you have to work hard, even if success is not immediately guaranteed. I have high standards. If 2/3 of a class fails the first midterm, so be it. But I'm proud to say that, with very few exceptions, everyone who makes a sincere effort to pass does so by the end of the term - because if they haven't learned one of life's most valuable lessons, they have by then:

You have to learn it's acceptable to fall flat on your face. It's inevitable, and nobody is above it. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that those who are successful learn to pick themselves back up, and try again.

This means: you do not need mine or anyone else's "go ahead" to write that manuscript. If you're afraid of continuing and wasting your time on a failure, then you have the wrong attitude. Completing the work will make you a better writer, even if that manuscript never sees the light of day.

Of course, it's unrealistic to expect the first draft of any larger work to be good. That's why editing is such an important part of the process.

In short, take the plunge. If it never works out, take the lesson and apply it to your next story.

2 ~ You do not need a cheerleader to cheer you on. It's unreliable. The best motivator is yourself, because you know your dreams and aspirations better than anyone else.

If you can't motivate yourself, ask why. Be honest with yourself. This is a good opportunity for some personal growth. Are you afraid of failure? (see #1). Is writing just not a priority? (That's okay... just be honest). Do you not know what to do? (Research the answer, then).

3 ~ All other considerations aside, it's just hard to give an incomplete story a proper evaluation. Is the first half good? Well, that really depends, at least in part, in the direction you plan to take it.

Even worse, the first part may seem good at a first glance, then turn out to be fluff by the end. This actually happened to me. The first 50 pages of my manuscript? "Sounds great!" Once I finished: "What was the point of the first six chapters?"

Lesson learned.

It's easier to get advice from others when you've done as much as you can yourself. Specific questions are easier to answer well than vague ones.

~

In short, should you keep writing? Yes.


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:iconkwhipkey:
KWhipkey Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Professional Writer
This is a great motivational post. I'm glad I kept it in my inbox until I had time to read it. Everything you said is eloquently on point. Thanks for the kick-in-the-butt. Especially now that it's a new year and the perfect time to rekindle the motivational flames. :)
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:iconmerrak:
merrak Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist
Glad you found it motivational :) I didn't think it'd generate this much response.
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:iconlaeneris:
Laeneris Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Student Writer
I agree. :thumbsup: Whenever I see a person asking readers whether or not the story should be continued ( and it's true, they are usually the 'beginners' if you may call them that) I wish I could help them see that you have to write because you like the story or the characters. It took me some time to learn that as well - to just keep going even if it turns out to be the worst thing you've ever written. There's always room for editing, I think the main point is just to be able to hold a finished product even if it has not yet been polished. :D
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:iconmerrak:
merrak Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist
Having a finished draft opens up a lot of options :nod: At the very least, it shows you're serious. A big problem on dA, or any large site for that matter, is that there seems to be a lot more people looking for help and feedback than are willing to give it.

I think the importance of editing is often misunderstood. It's easy to get sucked into the thought that the first draft has to be perfect, or "very good", without the realization that any first draft will likely need major revisions.
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:iconlaeneris:
Laeneris Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Student Writer
I agree wholeheartedly on your point about feedback. Then again, I can also understand why it might be too much of an effort for people to leave constructive criticism or just feedback wherever they go. I'm not trying to use this as an excuse, but since English is not my native language, I often have a hard time interpreting and understanding poetry (that's why I like prose better). Working on that, though. :aww:

That said, I'm currently working on a draft which I can't wait to complete. I know what has to happen - all I have to do is type it. :D I wanted to quit at points, times that I suddenly could only view my work as 'the most terrible thing anyone has ever written.' But they passed and I learned that I have all the time in the world to edit everything once the story itself is finished. :typerhappy:
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:iconaussie-necko:
Aussie-Necko Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Very well said. In regards to editing, however, I feel that you should ask someone to be a second pair of eyes. They might see something that you do not.
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:iconmerrak:
merrak Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist
I definitely agree with you on editing. It can be a real challenge to nail down all the nuances of the plot and tighten the text without a pair of eyes that haven't been staring at the work for months.
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:iconaussie-necko:
Aussie-Necko Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I usually ask another person to read stuff to get their
opinion on things and to look over for any grammatical mistakes that I
could over look; like wordiness and whatnot. I have a habit of run-on
sentences.
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:iconthatjuanartist:
ThatJuanArtist Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
not even a writer but, this can easily apply to art too. I'll take your advice into account whenever I lose motivation, which actually happens a lot. Thanks for the advice
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:iconmerrak:
merrak Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Hobbyist
You're welcome :)

Sometimes I need to remind myself, too.
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