Writer Wednesday: When I Quit. 


For about a year, I gave up on writing.

It was right after reading Brandon Sanderson’s absolutely incredible “The Way of Kings” (Book One of the Stormlight Archive). I finished the book excited to write my own masterpiece. I flipped open my laptop, opened up my favorite word processor, and spent hours writing sentences and deleting them. I got nowhere.

Eventually, I quit. There was no way I was going to reach Sanderson’s level. He’d planned every minute detail from the get-go. He knew exactly what he was doing. He could pump out like three books a year, of incredibly high caliber. I, on the other hand, couldn’t even produce a manuscript. Not even a first draft.

I just wasn’t made for this, I thought.

A year. I didn’t write for a year.

How I came back is a long and twisty story. The really short answer is: I eventually did a bunch of research about Brandon Sanderson, and I learned that he was just some guy. Some regular guy. He made a decision in his youth to sit down and write, even knowing his first attempts at novels might be terrible, because that’s what he wanted to do with his life.

It was hard for me to fathom that. Why would I spend my time writing nonsense crap when I could be dedicating my time to a masterpiece? Even if it takes me ten years to finish, at least my first book will change the world. It’ll shake the very foundations of the literary architecture. My name will ring out in songs for generations to come.

… Nah, not likely. 

Sure, I could spend ten painful years on a masterpiece. Then, it being my first book, I’d have to send it through the grueling process of submission. Even if it did get accepted, it would be changed by editors and agents that had a better eye for fiction than I. It would need revisions and changes here and there.

Then the publisher might make a solid return on their investment, and then I might have enough clout to sell another book.

But, that’s ten years of effort for a bunch of ifs and mights. For one book.

Brandon Sanderson wrote thirteen books before he’d published his first. He tried to write The Way of Kings a couple of times before his editors and agents helped him turn it into the story it is today. When they did finally pick it up, his manuscript was rife with plot holes and character missteps. It was unconventionally long (by a lot). It needed work. The very masterpiece that made me put down everything was just as needing of editing as any I would produce. 

Mind = blown.

When you break down the mysticism of being a professional author, it really all boils down to consistence and persistence. The ones that made it (in any field, really) are just the ones that never stopped. Sure, you’ll have some outliers. There’s always the guy that comes out of nowhere with some kind of legendary raw talent and gets a one-off. But, those are so very few.

When you research your favorite author, or athlete, or business mogul, you’ll find that a lot of them just put in the hours. Every day. No matter what. The lessons they learned helped them achieve success. Those writers finished projects and pumped out manuscripts. They sent to publishers for years. Eventually, their persistence paid off. Those athletes hit the field every day. Those business moguls studied the market at breakfast every morning.

I’m not saying you have to be crazy like me and quit your job to live in a van and write. You may have other pressing responsibilities. All I’m saying is: put in the effort. Even just a little bit. Every day. Believe that you can write a book, because a bunch of other random people with a bunch of responsibilities have done it. It is possible. It happens every single day.

It’ll take time to finish that novel. It’ll take longer to sell it, probably. But it will be worth it, and you can do it. 

So, go do it. Yes, now! (Oh, but like this post first.)

– R.

Ronin writes every day—even when he just wants to bury a hatchet in his laptop—because he knows he’ll sell eventually. You can follow him on Tumblr, WordPress, and Facebook for written content every week day. Follow him on Youtube for a video every Friday!

Thanks for reading! Teach peace.

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