By Daniel Stallings, East Sierra Branch
If there’s one piece of advice I could give to any aspiring writer, it’s finish something. As creative people, our heads will be constantly filled with unfinished projects, scraps of inspiration, little raggedy bits of ideas we glean from life. That’s how we create in the first place. But, and I hate to play the “bad guy” here, it doesn’t mean anything unless you can put them out into the world. A finished story is always stronger than a great idea.
How come? Because a finished product teaches you so much more than brainstorming, outlining, storyboarding, etc. ever could. It can reveal things about your working style and work ethic. It can show you how well you plan an arc or overall storyline. It teaches you about the big picture. It’s easy to get caught up in details, in the swirling pile of minutiae that seem to affect all artists. Should this character have this detail or this one? Should I change the battle scene from day to night? Should I include another character in this scene? Should I reverse these scenes? Stop. Back up. Breathe. And finish.
Because only when you finish it will you be able to see the completed picture. You will be able to assess how it flows, transitions, builds, and resolves. You can’t do that in pieces. You have to plow through and put it all together first. Details come later. Details should enhance the story. They are NOT the story.
My sister once described me as a weird hybrid of a dreamer and a doer. Most people seem divided into one of those two packs. I was the weirdo who could dream up a big show idea…and then several months later you’d see the show being advertised. That’s what you need to be as a writer. Dream up your worlds…and then make them. Don’t stop. Follow through. Finish.
You will be all the more rich when you cross that threshold.
This sound advice appears in Daniel’s president’s column
of East Sierra Branch’s September 2017 newsletter.