Of the major goals that I had at the outset of the year there were two that I think left the least room for ambiguity and were most achievable. The first was to destroy my approach anxiety. This was a spasm, but the tipping point occurred in June. Given that I can now successfully approach and at least attract interest in seemingly any woman of my choosing, including several models and one decently well-known (in her home country) filmmaker and performer, I think it's safe to say that my approach anxiety has been nuked to the moon.
The second goal was to finish my epic novel. This I began with a furious pace in the first half of the year and delayed in the second half, but kept chipping at it. I'm now extremely gratified to say that I finished it this past Saturday. It was the perfect capstone to end what has been a momentous year. The feeling that I got was at once one of elation and temperance. I didn't want to brag. It seemed that the gratification was enough, and at once reinforced the lesson that accomplished men don't brag as they don't need to. The feeling is enough. It might make for interesting conversation, but there's no need to crow such an accomplishment.
And so, the great creative project of my life has now been completed. It still needs to be edited and pruned of course before any attempt at release, which will take yet more time, but the hardest work - the grunt and toil of putting my creative thoughts to paper (figuratively, of course) is now complete. I no longer need to worry about "writer's block" or any other excuse, because the active creation is finished.
The novel is quite long. I won't say how long, but it is very long, to the point that some have advised me that I may need to split the book in two. We will see how that goes, but writers may ask me how I did such a thing? How do you write a good piece of literature? How do you write an epic novel?
1. Be Well-Rounded in Your Sources
It's a well-known fact that artists steal. Everyone steals. We're all under the influence of someone else. Artistic works are in essence something of an accretion. My influences on the work, consciously and subconsciously, were wide, and this allowed me to have a wide range of material to stand on and enhance the quality of my own writing.
2. Be Knowledgeable of History
My novel is a war story, and so my study of military history (which I have engaged in since the age of 12), has also given me much material to work with, allowing me to paint vivid descriptions of battles and campaigns, and the geopolitical and economic considerations behind the war (as there always are in any armed conflict). No matter the subject matter you're writing about, there is a history behind it. The writer should immerse himself in the history of that subject matter so that he will be able to extract a richness with which to seed his own story.
3. Record Any New Ideas You Have
This was a maxim George Carlin lived by, and it's as relevant here. If you are visited by an inspiration, record it so that you don't forget. Despite what you may think, it's all too easy to forget these ideas. Sometimes you may be inspired to write entire passages even though you aren't at that point in the story yet. Do this. You will get your idea out fully and can put it into the story as needed when you arrive at that point. Whatever you do, don't lose your ideas. Discard them if you are dissatisfied with them later, but never lose them. Always listen to that inspiring voice in your head.
4. Work Little by Little Over a Long Time
As with most things, you will be able to get your project done by working a little bit over a long time. It's difficult for me to keep my attention on one thing for too long. This is a weakness of mine, but it's one that I worked around to get this thing done. The method I wound up using for the most part was rather simple. I would write a page in Microsoft Word an hour during most of my hours of free time. If I went over that, that was good, but I tried to keep up with that schedule. This allowed me to get the lion's share of my book done.
Maybe this method isn't best for everyone. Others might find a set quota of words per day a better way to go. That's fine too. Just find a way to keep eking out the story a little bit at a time so that you find yourself progressing towards the end. Writer's block, I'll contend, isn't so much a block in inspiration as it is hesitation. I thought I had it before, but motivation and this method allowed me to bust through it.
5. Your Story is for You
Ultimately you need to write your story for yourself. Try to make it as high quality as possible of course, and accept nothing less than excellence, but ultimately you need to cater to your own expectations and not what you think other people may desire. There's a word for that when it comes to art and it's called mediocre. In case you haven't noticed, our culture is full of mediocre or downright terrible art. Buck this trend. Your writing is an extension of what rests in your soul and is your commentary on the world. Anything less than this will inevitably devolve into mediocrity.
It was by following these five principles that I was able to complete the work. If any of you out there find yourself writing something similar (or anything really), you need to follow them as well to be successful in crafting something that is of high quality while simultaneously making sure you don't fall into that trap of starting some creative work but never finishing it (a bad habit of mine that I hope I have now dropped with the completion of this work). Begin the task and good luck!