The writer Henry Miller said: "In this age, which believes that there is a shortcut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest."
You know, there's a lot of truth in this. How many times have you (and, trust me, me too) set about doing a job but you try to cut corners to make it faster or cheaper or just plain old easier but it doesn't work the first time, so you add a step or whatever, and it still doesn't work. You keep on doing this until...gasp! You finally break down and do the job properly from start to finish all the while bemoaning the fact that you would have been long done if you'd only done it correctly to start with.
I don't know what it is in human nature that makes us repeatedly go through this. We know that following the correct steps, in the correct order, using the correct tools with the correct instructions will most often get the job done faster and easier. And we still look for those short cuts.
Maybe it's our drive to be inventive? Or our quest to be 'smarter' than the average joe plumber? I'm not sure.
How does this apply to writing? Well, how many of us have half-completed manuscripts lurking in drawers or hidden in folders on our hard drives? I'd bet quite a few.
Yet we cherish the notion that we're 'writers'. In a sense, we are, of course. but the measure of 'writerly' success is finishing that manuscript. We have to abandon the idea that we can produce a book in a matter of days or a few weeks. Only very prolific and extremely talented authors can do that. We also have to abandon the thought that our words are gold and perfect that moment we set them down.
Writing is hard work. It takes time. It takes practice. There are no shortcuts, no easy ways to produce a full-sized manuscript. The hardest but easiest way to write is to set our butts down in our chairs and write. Write even if it's only 50 words a day. Eventually you'll have a full length manuscript.
But the job isn't done.
Now comes the revision. Making sure that the plot makes sense. That the characters are doing what they would do, not because you want them to do it, but because they want to do it. That the grammar is correct. That writing principles like show-don't tell are not being violated.
Then when the manuscript is the best you can make it, send it out to agents or publishers if that's your dream, otherwise bask in the glow of a job well done.
Wait. You're still not done.
Now you start your next writing project.
You keep in mind that writing is hard work, that takes practice and time. And remember the wise words of Henry Miller which I'll repeat here "In this age, which believes that there is a shortcut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest."