54 Comments
Feb 11Liked by Lincoln Michel

I wrote a really bad novel during lockdown. When I told to my then therapist, I described it as a cheese full of holes and it had plenty of mistakes. She said, "Well, but you have cheese".

Since then I think of any finished draft as cheese.

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Love that! And there can be so much satisfaction in working toward a finished product, even if it’s not ready to be published. 🧀

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Feb 11Liked by Lincoln Michel

Exactly. That was her cheesy point, I think.

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There’s a very good cheese with holes called emmentaler.

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Feb 11Liked by Lincoln Michel

Oomph, needed to hear this today. I can get a draft down easy enough, it's the editing that sucks and pulls me under, like quicksand. Thanks for the reminder to just get shit done 👍

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Feb 11Liked by Lincoln Michel

Really great reminder and another tip... it's also important outside the world of writing. But IMO it's also an equally important skill to know what is and is not worth finishing. We only have so much time given to us so make sure where and how you're spending your precious time is a conscious decision. Cheers!

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A big part of the reason I started writing crime fiction was because I needed to finish things and you can't keep showing people 60 pages of a crime novel that's been revised over and over again through workshop feedback. If it's good, they want to read the rest. If they don't want to read the rest -- ouch. But finishing was also the advice from a writer who's one of the worst people I've ever known, but he was right about this.

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I really resonated with your emphasis on the importance of finishing what we start in writing. It's something that's often overlooked in the pursuit of perfection or the fear of failure, but as you rightly point out, finishing is where the real progress lies. It's easy to get caught up in the cycle of endless tinkering and revision, but ultimately, completing a project is what propels you forward as a writer. This advice applies not just to writing novels or stories but to any creative endeavor. Now, time to apply this wisdom to my own writing projects!

Explore captivating Contemporary, Romance, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction, Horror, and more stories on my Substack for FREE at https://jonahtown.substack.com

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Feb 13Liked by Lincoln Michel

Haha! What a clever finish to this letter! 🙌🏻

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Great advice, well put. I always say the same thing to my own students.

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Wow, love your insight about the beginning inevitably changing by the end. You're talking about fiction. Does the same hold true for essays?

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author

Hmm, good question! Everyone works differently of course. Speaking for myself, I tend to mostly know the whole shape of shorter works (whether essays or short stories) from the start. But book-length works change and evolve and can't be all held in your mind in the same way.

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That makes sense. I do still wonder about essays where you’re not sure what you’re writing till you’ve written it

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Love this. For me, Substack is a good way to work this muscle too. I make myself finish and share something every week (with a few planned gaps here and there) and it reminds me to just do that exact thing and also to not make it so complicated that I can't finish it within the allotted time frame.

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I agree, Charlotte! Practice finishing things was a big part of my motivation to start a newsletter here. I hope it's helping.

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Yay! Glad to hear that.

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Finishing is even more important to me in this stage of life. As a mom, I’m constantly being interrupted and adjusting to changes in plans and priorities. Sometimes the only place I can get that sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing things is in my manuscript.

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Everyone needs to read this.

I needed to read this.

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This is so true and always will be and needs repeating again and again. Thanks. What helps me too while in a draft is that I try to pick up where I left off last time and keep going forward and try not to go back and rewrite all that came before. I don’t always succeed, but it helps.

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Someone needed to say this. And you nailed it perfectly.

Your post—honestly—galvanized my ass to finish my latest post—which had been hovering over my head like the sword of Damocles for a week.

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This is wonderful advice. Finish writing the thing and move on to what's next. I especially appreciate the part about sharing early drafts before you understand the thing itself -- a lesson I've learned (and am still learning) through trial and error. I think when new writers start out, there is so much desire for someone else to validate their work and tell them that they haven't wasted their time. The more experience I gain as a writer, the more I've come to believe I need to give myself more time to understand what it is I'm writing before I show it to anyone else.

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Nothing more satisfying than figuring out how a story should end, and then working towards that. Such a necessary guiding light.

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This is the basic advice. I've seen so many beginners dig and root at the same book forever and ever and ever. No. You learn from it and move on.

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