Why have I taken to writing every month that first post about the books I bought and the books I read? It’s a blatant copying of the format Nick Hornby created for his column in The Believer, and I can’t imagine that I could do it better than him. Yet, I still write the post.
the simple fact is, I do it because I’m searching for my voice. It’s a voice that gets stuck inside me. And when it finally comes out as I hear it, I’ll be doing (what I hope will be) wholly original work. Until then, I play. I experiment.
Neil Gaiman has talked extensively on writing, both about his process and on the craft as a whole. One piece of advice that I find particularly pertinent to this post is a response to a Tumblr question: “…try things out. Enjoy yourself. If you find a writer you like, write like them. And then sound like something else. Write anything. Don’t worry about it being good or read by other people. Just play, and play a lot.”
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”