Brandon Sanderson is an author I respect. Not because I like his writing. On the contrary, I don’t find his writing necessarily to my taste, but more because of what he has done with the craft. and how he ultimately offers advice to those who are also climbing the mountain he has summited over and again. I am in the middle of reading of some of his stuff on his page and he has offered this one particular gem that I have decided to pull out and disseminate.
Becoming a successful author is about practice, and I believe that the most important thing to learn while practicing is to understand yourself as a writer. – Sanderson
Very true. Just a couple of sentences before this he offered another piece of advice which is to learn how your own process works as a writer and do that. He even references George R. R. Martin’s analogy of the difference between the “gardeners” and the “architects” out there – those who write and let the story tell itself and those who design the story. Either way, all authors tend to agree that there’s no one way to the end of the maze. The point is that you keep walking and find out how to get there yourself.
I’ve been writing fiction since 2008. I’ve been able to have a few pieces of poetry published (though, there’s one I’ve looked for and it’s gone – the publication went under), as well as a short story. But that seemed a while back. I still write and I’m working on the next project. But the hard part isn’t the book, or the short story, or the essay, or the poem, or whatever. It’s not the words. It’s in the strength/the pull of the tale. It’s in the motivation. I think it is an alluring endeavor – to be an author. To be called an author, a writer. There’s a sense of sophistication, even panache about one’s whose work is to wield words as a profession. But, it has to be for you. Some people just won’t want to do it. Let’s face it – when it comes down to it, there’s on one else who is going to write the piece that you are going to write. No one who is going to tell the tale that you are going tot tell. No one else. There is you, and that is all. So, the question then becomes, what do you do with this time? There is a lot that goes on in one’s life, and at a certain point, you reach a place where much of your time in the day is stolen away. But you do have blocks. And these blocks of time you have, in some fashion or another, carved out for yourself. Time is made, after all; not had. Now, you have this block of time. What do you do with it?
You just write and see what happens then.
But, as I’ve alluded to Sanderson, writing to the end is summiting a mountain. It’s only about desire, really, like anything. You want to ride a bike, solve a Rubix cube, learn to juggle, write code, do landscaping, et cetera, it is always all about desire.
Once you have that, once you’ve found the wall you would like to break down, you then find your tool and start hitting. You practice. You fall down, you get injured, you grow tired, hungry, weary, weak. You begin to question why you are doing this. You know some chips of cement are falling from the wall, but you’re not sure how thick the wall is. Are you sure this is what you want?
Most stop here. It’s not right; it’s not wrong; it just is. Most stop.
Those who continue, continue because it’s what they want to do. They’re not concerned about the result. They are concerned with simply doing. Some have planned it all out, others simply keep the work going, and at a certain point, it is finished. The final chips of concrete fall, the wall is broken, and the project is complete.
This is where I am. There is a lot of concrete on the floor. I’m not sure how much more of the wall there is left, and there are times in which I stop hammering because I need a break. I am not sure if I’m hammering the right place. Is it the right wall? Am I using the right tools? I exhale deeply, closing my eyes.
Then, when I’ve rested and I’m ready, I open my eyes again. The wall is still there, as am I. I pick up my hammer and return to the work.