Sticking it out – A 12 Steps for Writers Short

“Hey there,” the old man said. “I know you. You’ve been here before. You may not remember me, but we talked after the last session.”

I looked at the old man. “Yes, you gave the lecture last time, the one on giving up.”

The old man smiled. “So it’s good to see you came back.”

“Well they say it takes twelve steps to break free.”

He laughed. “And what step are you on?”

“You kidding, I’m still looking for an escalator just to avoid the stair case.”

He placed his hand on my shoulder. “Admitting you’re powerless is tough; it’s amazing how many of us have eventually broken free and gone on to find success.”

“I heard you wrote your first bestseller after you went through the program.”

“I’m not the only one. Dozens of us have made it out.”

“I can’t wait for that day.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It will come soon enough.”

“Well with the stack of bills collecting on my counter I would hope it comes sooner rather than later.”

“Well then, you’ve got the wrong idea.”

I frowned. “How so?”

“If money is all you hope to gain then you’re stuck just staying afloat where you are.”

I sighed, I knew he was right. But I had convinced myself long ago that this would be the only way.

“I was like you once,” he said. “Big dreams. Lunch with agents, million dollar contracts.”

“But you made it.”

“Sure, but I was ten years into my project and still searching for an agent that would accept my lunch invite and I still hadn’t earned a dent in those millions.”

“How did you eventually do it?”

“Two things,” he said. “One I stopped writing what everyone else expected me to write and I just wrote the story I wanted to hear. Second, I finished something.”

“Sounds easier than it is.”

“Well it is,” he said. “But not giving up on the story is important.”

“That’s my problem right now.”

“What is?”

“Giving up on the story,” I said. “Sometimes I write and I write and I feel as if I’m backed into a corner. I’m twenty thousand words into it and I’m just not feeling it. I think this is the wrong idea.”

“Is that why you joined the group?” He asked. “Because you felt like you got the wrong idea?”

“No,” I said. “I joined because I’m frustrated with my idea. I like the story but I’m just stuck.”

“I’ve been there many times. You feel like you want to beat your head against the keyboard.”

“Yeah and then throw it across the room.”

“Sometime we writers go through that stage. It’s like we’re on board the Titanic and we’re scooping water out with a small bucket hoping we can save her. In the end she just continues to sink.”

“Any advice?”

“Slow down,” he said. “Writing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Pace yourself. Some days you’ll write until your eye lids close and other days you’ll leave with only a sentence to your name. Just write and finish.”

“You’re big on finishing.”

“Finishing is the first step to publication.”

“But I don’t want to write something that’s pure crap.”

He laughed.

“What?” I asked.

“Edits and rewrites are a process for a reason.”

“I hate em,” I said.

He nodded. “Well do me a favor.”

“What?”

“Go home, sit down, and just write on the story.”

“That’s it…”

“You outline?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Pretty extensively too.”

“Then just put that outline aside and just write.”

“But what about all the plot points I have.”

“They’ll still be there,” he said. “But let the story lead you for a bit. Let it take you on a journey. Trust me… There is no better feeling then letting the story lead you to discover something new.”

“Sounds almost enchanting.”

“It is… And it’s worth it.”

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