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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why You Can't Give Up Yet

I'm a pretty good cook, you can ask any of my neighbors. If I mention I'm baking treats they aren't shy about asking for samples. I love to cook, and I love to feed people.

I can put together an amazing meal.

But I can't make a truly original recipe. My friend Garret can. He can get a random idea for a food and make amazing recipes from nothing but his imagination. I'm in awe of his talent.

But this is a boy who also reads about the history of milk for fun. He doesn't just cook for fun, he studies every aspect of food from the history to future affects of our diet. He is completely immersed in food.

That's why he cooks better than I do.

Food is his passion. He spends every day there.

Now let's compare that to writing.

Many authors get frustrated on the fact that they can't live off their writing. We get frustrated because we're denied the ability to immerse ourselves in our passion because of that nasty thing called Real Life.

That frustration comes out as the common refrain: But I want it perfect now!!!

"Why is it taking so long to write this book?"

"Why doesn't this sound original?"

"Why is this chapter so hard to write."

"I quit."

"It's too hard."

"I'm a terrible writer."

The cold, hard truth is that you're a great writer, you just haven't put in the hours yet.

Look, I can cook three meals a day and 98% of the time they are delicious. Not always perfect, but no one complains. They aren't camera worthy, but they're edible.

My writing is the same. My first draft is coherent. I can use common spellings and punctuation with about 95 % accuracy. But that first draft isn't flawless. It's not ready for print just yet.

I'm willing to bet your draft is the same. It's good, it just needs some work.

You can't quit because it isn't perfect yet.

If I quit cooking because my meals weren't as inspired, organic, and beautiful as my friend's, my children would starve to death. In another ten or twenty years I might have eked out the same amount of experience he has now and be able to create a recipe with pure imagination.

In that ten or twenty years though, I'll also have finished a few novels and see my name in print. Because I'm putting the time into writing and editing. Even on the bad days. Even during the rough drafts. Even when I get a rejection.

Keep writing.

It doesn't matter if you have 10 words written today or 10,000. To become a better writer, to get your name in print, you need to keep writing.


  1. Very nice post! My rough draft needs work alright...LOTS!

  2. Absolutely brilliant.

    And that's the difference: passion. Your friend cooks because he loves to cook, because he loves to cook he learns every aspect of it, because he learns, he becomes even better.

    Same with writing.

    Love this post!

  3. Thanks, Lei. I needed this tonight.