You Have To Finish Things

Before you finish things, you have to start them.

For me it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important. …. One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself it doesn’t matter. Nobody is ever going to see your first draft. … Whatever you’re doing can be fixed. … For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, and then fix it.

From Neil Gaiman on The Nerdist podcast, talking about the process of writing. It could very well apply to the process of creating anything: art, a business, new inventions…

Do watch:

If you’re only going to write when you’re inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you will never be a novelist — because you’re going to have to make your word count today, and those words aren’t going to wait for you, whether you’re inspired or not. So you have to write when you’re not “inspired.” … And the weird thing is that six months later, or a year later, you are going to look back and you’re not going to remember which scenes you wrote when you were inspired and which scenes you wrote because they had to be written.

You learn by finishing things.

The process of writing can be magical — there are times when you step out of an upper-floor window and you just walk across thin air, and it’s absolute and utter happiness. Mostly, it’s a process of putting one word after another. … You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from. You learn by finishing things.

As quickly as you can, start telling the stories only you can tell

If you like fantasy and you want to be the next Tolkien, don’t read big Tolkien-esque fantasies. Tolkien didn’t read big Tolkien-esque fantasies, he read books on Finnish philology. Go and read outside of your comfort zone, go and learn stuff. … When you’re ready to write, tell your story. Don’t try and tell the stories that other people can tell. Because [as a] starting writer, you always start out with other people’s voices — you’ve been reading other people for years. … But, as quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only you can tell — because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.