I’m a fan of counter-intuitive advice. Take the above quote from John Steinbeck, for example. If you are worried about finishing a big project, just assume you never will. Slow down. Write a page a day if that’s all you can manage. That way, when you get done, it will come as a delightful surprise to you.

Writing with the end in mind is a hard thing to do. One, because if you’re like me, you don’t know when the end will come or even what the end will be. I write character-based stuff. I don’t know exactly what my characters are going to do until they do it. Okay, yeah, sure, I have an idea, but I don’t really know. So (unless I’m following a flash fiction prompt with a word-count limit) I have no idea when the end will come. 

But the second reason writing with the end in mind is hard is far more fundamental and far more profound–because I can’t write any part of the story except the part I’m currently writing. Trying to keep my eye on the end distracts me from the part I’m working on at that moment. I have to commit to this paragraph, this sentence of dialogue, this moment in the narrative. I can’t allow my mind to skip forward or try to mash this moment with the conclusion. It will jumble everything up.

I guess what I’m saying is I only write one word at a time.

I’m on the cusp of finishing a first draft of a manuscript and, believe me, I find myself tempted to think about the end all the time. I can’t do that. I have to write this page first. The end will come.


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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