Write On!

Posted By: R. Alan Brooks

I was on a writer’s panel a couple of years ago, with about 40 people in attendance. I was one of 4 writers at the table. “How many of you are aspiring writers?” I asked the audience. Nearly everyone raised their hands.

“How many of you have finished a book?” Almost all of the hands went down.

I looked around at the people there, all hopeful for some new secrets to being a “successful writer”. The only thought I had was, “None of this matters if you don’t actually write.”

But what I said was, “Hey, all of us up here can talk about what laptop we use, how we structure our stories, how we world-build, but you know, none of that matters if you don’t actually finish your stories. If you’re not just writing for yourself, and you have any hope of people in the world interacting with your writing, you have to learn how to finish. It’s more important than most of the stuff we obsess over.”

There was a bit of silence, and I wondered if I’d disappointed them in some way. Then a man in his 60s stood up, gray beard and ponytail, and raised his hand. I acknowledged him, and he spoke: “But…once I put my work out into the world…I can’t take it back…”

It was less a question than an expression of the anxiety he was feeling. But I was happy that he felt comfortable enough to share it. “That’s true, man. You’re right. But this is a trap we all fall into as creatives, whether musicians, visual artists, writers or whatever. We’re inspired by some great artist, and we want our first work to be as brilliant as theirs. Except, the thing we love wasn’t usually their first work. It was something they created after putting work out for years. We probably never even saw their first book. They had to work up to the level creating the work we love, and we think we’re supposed to produce at that same level on our first time. That’s not fair to ourselves.”

I continued to explain that there’s a certain amount of growth as an artist that we never get if we don’t put work out into the world. A friend of mine who struggled with this very thing shared this idea with me:

“Imagine two artists: one who works on a painting for a year, and another who finishes a painting a day for a year. Which do you think will be better at the end of the year?”

Of course, the artist who does a painting a day.

So, comics creators, what have you been working on that you’ve never finished?

Raised in Atlanta and now a Denver resident, R. Alan Brooks is a writer, musician and host of the popular “Mother F**ker In A Cape” comics podcast, which interviews marginalized members of the geek world. Alan writes educational children’s comics and is the writer and creator of “The Burning Metronome”, a supernatural murder mystery graphic novel.

Read more from this blogger at: http://www.theburningmetronome.com