writing quotes

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Neil Gaiman

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Stardust is a book written by Neil Gaiman. I knew of Stardust as a movie before I knew it as a book, so reading an introductory sample of Stardust was a treat. I enjoy his writing and his quotes as well!

My first impression of Neil Gaiman was that he was blunt and humorous, just from the writing advice I’ve seen him provide. Intrigued, I went in search of more quotes. This one stuck out to me:

“You have to finish things–that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.” -Neil Gaiman

I also did a search on his work as well. His writing seems so effortless yet whimsical, with an easy simplicity but elegant use of language. He has a magical ability to strike a good balance between the two. I like the quote above because what he’s advising is a simple concept that I often complicate.

Sometimes I get so frustrated with stories and poems and personal essays that I end up scrapping them or just end up letting them sit. Sometimes I never return to them. They’re the forgotten projects.

This led me to question why I fail to finish some projects. I came up with a few reasons: I’m too much of a perfectionist, I’m writing in the wrong genres or… as I’ve recently realized, I over-commit to too many writing projects at once. It seems that many writers like to work on multiple projects at once and I’m no different. I get bored or uninspired easily and move onto the next project, in hopes that it’ll motivate me to finish the other one.

But, it’s only when we get to the end and complete projects that we can properly evaluate them.

Do you find it difficult to finish some writing projects?

Completing my writing projects, whether it be fan fiction stories I started years ago or my NaNoWriMo fantasy story, is a big goal I’ve set for myself this year and for next.

It’s taken me years to continue some writing projects–even this blog for me is a writing project. Through those years though, I’ve learned and grown as a writer, person and blogger.

By blogging, I’ve learned how to write in a different style and form; one that’s often fun and personal and liberating. I’ve also learned about building connections and relationships with other bloggers. And I’ve learned all about editorial calendars and weekly themes! 🙂 Blogging has re-ignited my love for writing and my need for continual learning. Every time I read a blog, meet a new blogger or see someone’s lovely comment I learn something new. I feel connected and encouraged.

By continuing my fan fiction stories, I’m honing my creative writing skills through practice, I’m receiving valuable experience of what it’s like to get constructive criticism and opinions on your work, and I’m developing the discipline needed for completing a writing project. In the years I’ve been a part of the fan fiction community, I’ve been really fortunate to receive kind, encouraging reviews in which people express how much they like my story, what I should consider changing or improving on, and whether I’ve made a mistake that seems out-of-place in that fandom or world. It’s taught me to take things with a grain of salt but to also value constructive criticism.

I’ve stuck with my NaNoWriMo story as well. I surprised myself when I kept to it past November. Although I only reached 35, 533 words, I was the most dedicated to it than any other NaNoWriMo story I had written. I overcame writer’s block and can now write well over 500 words in an evening. My story is a project I really want to finish because I want to find out what happens next, I want to learn. Only then can I step back, take a look at it and have more knowledge of writing than I did before.

Neil Gaiman’s advice is so simple and true but sometimes I find it such a hard task to put into practice. So I’ve decided that I have to treat my projects as goals, just as winning NaNoWriMo or eating healthier are both goals.

As with any goal, you must outline specific measures, tactics and steps to achieve them.

How I Plan On Finishing:

  • Getting into a daily routine of writing (500+ words a day)
  • Completing all of my fan fiction stories and my NaNoWriMo story within the next year (2015)
  • Setting specific deadlines for each project to familiarize myself with discipline and urgency (e.g. finish one fan fiction story by March 2015, another by June 2015)

If we finish things, we’ll be better writers because of it. Do you have a process or particular tactics in place to help you accomplish your writing goals? What are your writing goals for 2015?

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