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How I Think Of Writing: The Cold, Hard Truth (3 Viewers)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
First of all I want to point out this is a mindset I've adopted for the purpose of improving and once I have improved, I'll return to a more traditional way of writing. There are a few other people on this site that approach things in a similar way and I wanted to express this for the purpose of letting those people know there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, I think more people should break things down in this way. Forget the arty-farty, 'I have a message for the world', 'muse or nothing' mentality. If you're a natural, great, but don't fool yourself into believing you are just to make yourself feel a part of some elite group. Most of us are ordinary people working hard to improve. It's no more complicated than that. 'Writing is an art'. Give me a break. For a beginner like me, it's fucking hard 'work'.

When I read, listen to audio books, write or critique, I'm not in the least bit interested in the story. For me, the words, sentence structure, style, mood, pacing etc, are key to honing writing skills. No matter how great your story is, if the language and presentation doesn't grab the reader or the editor/publisher, go back to your day job. You're never going to get anywhere unless you self publish. That's not to discredit self publishing, it's a legitimate avenue to take, but I think it would be fooling yourself if you didn't initially pursue the traditional way of publication.

I see writing as a mechanic, and break it down into words, sentences, paragraphs and scenes. I'm trying to choose the perfect word, trying to write the perfect sentence, trying to write an engaging paragraph and trying to write an exciting, entertaining, engaging scene. All in 'isolation' and never in the context of the greater whole. This is why I'm holding off on writing novels and choosing to write short stories. I know, if I get those four things right, the story will shine. It's only after I've finished the process do I sit back and read 'the story'. That's when I may adjust for the greater whole, although for practising purposes, I've usually moved on to my next project.

I see a story as a jig-saw puzzle. The only time I'll consider the box art is when I want to see where a particular piece might fit. 99% of the fun in doing jig-saw puzzles is fitting individual pieces together. That thrill of the 'snap', it fits! Lining up all the edge pieces and suddenly stumbling on a run along one side. That difficult sky piece! The fun of a jig-saw puzzle is in the individual pieces, not in the box art.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Precisely so. Though I think my fabulous (in every sense of the word) theatre critic, Evilla McPrettyb*tch, summed it up in a scathing review far more eloquently than I ever could.

~ * ~​

[This one particular playwright], having opened his mind to the realm of ideas, witnesses his thoughts flow thick and fast, but manageably so, and is grateful. Later, that flow increases, but rather than being able to create works of greater, or even consistent, majesty in keeping with his vision, the physical limitations of the human vessel render these imaginings increasingly turgid and generic pap. This gives the impression of the creator running dry of original material. He becomes formulaic, repetitive; he consults books and “how-to's” and legions of advisors. We critics call this “sequelitis”, but let it be known in the interests of full disclosure, dear Reader, that your reviewer is happy to be considered pap-like right from the start. In this way, she can keep her cute button nose above the still waters of modest expectation. For it is when such a level of expectation paired with the torrent of ideas – flowing inwards toward the artist – far outstrips his ability to intelligently sift through the deluge and produce commensurate output that one is, figuratively speaking, plunged off a waterfall. They are cleaned out, unable to communicate any worthwhile or fresh thought, grasping at the lowest-hanging fruit and the slowest-moving flotsams, yet all the while remaining bereft of any awareness about this terrible condition. He - or she - still believes themselves to be flawless, without error; that one need only look at the incoming ideas to confirm their genius, but what he or she fails to realise is that this is a property of the realm of ideas, not of the writer themselves. Their sole responsibility is to take those ideas and put them together in dramatic and interesting form. This marked contrast between input and the output which he himself must create but rarely sees as others do, explains why he both remains blind to his predicament and becomes so irksomely prolific after reaching this point, going on and on until the wittering end. You just want him to shut up and stop humiliating himself.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Story and style are important. If a writer wants to write with a message like I do it would be a theme. Theme is what the character needs or the lesson. It's what characters must learn. It's what the story is about. It's the two sides of an argument like a coin. It's a meaningful experience of life. Movies have thrived on themes. So have some storytellers. As for mechanics, I think you refer to prose. I think the mood is important of a piece and atmosphere. I think art's definition means some people's work depends on how much they appreciate the story and not the prose. Some writers don't depend only on prose but also on story such as J k rowling.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Story and style are important. If a writer wants to write with a message like I do it would be a theme. Theme is what the character needs or the lesson. It's what characters must learn. It's what the story is about. It's the two sides of an argument like a coin. It's a meaningful experience of life. Movies have thrived on themes. So have some storytellers. As for mechanics, I think you refer to prose. I think the mood is important of a piece and atmosphere. I think art's definition means some people's work depends on how much they appreciate the story and not the prose. Some writers don't depend only on prose but also on story such as J k rowling.
Without the basics in place, none of what you've just said matters. No one is ever going to read a badly written novel, even if the story is the greatest ever told. This is why I won't commit myself to writing a novel. I'm simply not good enough. When I'm good enough, I'll write that novel.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
First, ALL art is hard work. It takes discipline, dedication, responsibility and respect. To paraphrase something Picasso supposedly said: 'I don't want to see your impression of a horse until you can draw an accurate one'. Work at getting better. After completing every short story, novella or novel, we should look for ways to improve. What worked, what didn't, what should change and what should be left behind. Classes and blogs (etc.) are fine, but the best way to learn is in the doing. Life is action, and so is writing.

My opinion (and reading preference) is that we should write about something - a theme as you say, if we don't, what we produce is merely a mindless rollicking adventure... which may be fine for many, but not for me. I want to read something that engages my mind and possibly changes my point of view while providing entertainment, and that's the sort of things that I try to write.
 

Crooked Bird

Senior Member
What's fascinating to me about your breakdown of this, which I agree with in spirit, is that I'm re-reading Story by Robert McKee right now--the Bible on screenwriting especially with a view to plot--this guy is pretty much considered a genius in Hollywood. He has a very, very pragmatic tone, similar to the one you're taking here.

And he (and even more so his disciple in the realm of prose fiction, Shawn Coyne) thinks reliance on language and presentation is arty-farty and pretentious and not going to get you anywhere. (Though he wouldn't quarrel at all with your emphasis on pacing and writing an exciting scene.) His book is mostly about plot and character and structuring the story in a satisfying way--which includes, yes, theme, which he calls Controlling Idea and outlines with a very strict and practical definition that includes a breakdown by genre.

Basically (though you're probably exactly right on what parts of the craft you need to focus on just now) it's possible to take the workmanlike, practical, professional approach you're speaking for and apply it to the big picture as well--yes, even theme. I really recommend the book.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
I see writing as a mechanic, and break it down into words, sentences, paragraphs and scenes. I'm trying to choose the perfect word, trying to write the perfect sentence, trying to write an engaging paragraph and trying to write an exciting, entertaining, engaging scene. All in 'isolation' and never in the context of the greater whole. This is why I'm holding off on writing novels and choosing to write short stories. I know, if I get those four things right, the story will shine. It's only after I've finished the process do I sit back and read 'the story'. That's when I may adjust for the greater whole, although for practising purposes, I've usually moved on to my next project.
I have cast my mind back into the dim and distant past. I have always scribbled a bit. But it was WF that got me trying properly. I don't know why I washed up on the green pixel shore, I only know that since I have found the footprints in the sand and listened to the critters' chorus have I gained any facility at telling stories.

From the very beginning I have always been a voracious reader, which has enabled me to glean some simple truths: A great story will raise a writer's game. A good character will write itself. Never look at the craft as work, only as entertaining yourself. Kisas... Keep it simple and short.

I have a motto: Near enough is good enough.
Good luck on your journey.
BC
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
What's fascinating to me about your breakdown of this, which I agree with in spirit, is that I'm re-reading Story by Robert McKee right now--the Bible on screenwriting especially with a view to plot--this guy is pretty much considered a genius in Hollywood. He has a very, very pragmatic tone, similar to the one you're taking here.

And he (and even more so his disciple in the realm of prose fiction, Shawn Coyne) thinks reliance on language and presentation is arty-farty and pretentious and not going to get you anywhere. (Though he wouldn't quarrel at all with your emphasis on pacing and writing an exciting scene.) His book is mostly about plot and character and structuring the story in a satisfying way--which includes, yes, theme, which he calls Controlling Idea and outlines with a very strict and practical definition that includes a breakdown by genre.

Basically (though you're probably exactly right on what parts of the craft you need to focus on just now) it's possible to take the workmanlike, practical, professional approach you're speaking for and apply it to the big picture as well--yes, even theme. I really recommend the book.
I have themes in most of my stories but I never draw attention to them. I feel as though such things should come through subliminally and any attempt to force them could feel like writer interference ... if you get my drift. It can also lead to moralising and soap-boxing, two big NO's in writing. Although someone should tell Hollywood that. Perhaps then they'll stop attributing the lack of success to any number of defamatory labels.
 

Riptide

WF Veterans
If I rely only on sentence structure, pacing, style, mood then I'd burn out. Story is what makes me continue writing for the long haul. Because I want to write this story, these ideas, and characters, and settings, and all that gooey stuff. Of course, I want it to sound nice, too, and I get super happy when everything flows. When I'm writing, I consider sentence structure and words (not too much the pacing or style, though I do think mood is an important considerations for the story, and style is something that develops with a writer. Not really something, imo, you can pin down and fix).

When I'm done writing the story, then I can go back and see how it all fits, technically. Writing just for the technical stuff seems... boring... I see why you wouldn't want to write a novel based on that.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
If I rely only on sentence structure, pacing, style, mood then I'd burn out. Story is what makes me continue writing for the long haul. Because I want to write this story, these ideas, and characters, and settings, and all that gooey stuff. Of course, I want it to sound nice, too, and I get super happy when everything flows. When I'm writing, I consider sentence structure and words (not too much the pacing or style, though I do think mood is an important considerations for the story, and style is something that develops with a writer. Not really something, imo, you can pin down and fix).

When I'm done writing the story, then I can go back and see how it all fits, technically. Writing just for the technical stuff seems... boring... I see why you wouldn't want to write a novel based on that.
You can either spend years writing stories and learn over those years what works and what doesn't, or you can concentrate on strengthening your weaknesses. I can never understand why some people set out to write a novel when they're beginners. You see it all the time. I saw it in writing classes and on forums: I'm writing a trilogy and need help. Then they post their work, sometimes from nearly complete novels, and you could write a page of critique on the first paragraph alone. The words are ill chosen, the sentence structure is awkward, the thesaurus in on full display, the punctuation is wrong, the grammar is skew-whiff and on and on. The idea of writing the story has gotten in the way of them learning their craft. I have no idea why it's controversial to suggest you learn the craft first and then go onto bigger, more ambitious projects. Lack of patience?

Do you know what it really is? Up front: snobbery. Every other discipline starts with practice but writing ... oh no ... tis the muse that guides me. Writing isn't 'art' in the same way 'paint' isn't art. Until you've learned to use that paint well. Then what you create with that paint IS 'art'.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
... I can never understand why some people set out to write a novel when they're beginners. You see it all the time. I saw it in writing classes and on forums:...

Do you know what it really is? Up front: snobbery. Every other discipline starts with practice but writing ... oh no
Nope, not just in writing. ANY artistic discipline has this problem. And it's very, very sad to take such a harsh and judgmental view of beginners who rush into working on something that they think will outlive them.

There is no turkey-timer that pops up when someone is studying an artistic discipline and suddenly "You're done! You can write your magnum opus/paint the next Mona Lisa/compose a masterpiece now". There really, really isn't. I suppose one could rely on the word of their teachers but usually any given teacher is teaching only part of the craft. I suppose you could say that no one should EVER create something big or meaningful unless they have a college degree but a student can become very proficient in all of the mechanical components they're asked to learn and still fail horribly when they first tackle their novel, painting, or musical composition.

Why?

Because there is quite a bit of learning that you learn by doing. I have recently heard that the only way to really, in the end, internalize how to write a book is to write a book.

And the arts aren't only mechanical ability, they're also about how to hook that up to imaginary vision. You don't have to do that in learning, say, plumbing or electrical work.

Yes, a lot of us will rush it. We have enthusiasm, we don't know what we know, we're impatient. We want to skip the boring stuff. We have something that's so strong in our heart and mind and imagination to create that we want to get it out there.

It's about trying to realize your vision. It's easy to mistake how much knowledge you need to make that work. I won't say that snobbery doesn't exist but I will say that whether this rushing is because of ignorance, enthusiasm, vivid imagination, or snobbery the craft will school you, send you back to learn components.

The arts will humble the artist and if that doesn't happen they'll have very limited success or none at all. That's their business.

It seems to me that those who HAVE learned much of a discipline should beware of snobbery toward those who are attempting to learn.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
It seems to me that those who HAVE learned much of a discipline should beware of snobbery toward those who are attempting to learn.
The reason for my threads. I want to learn. Others want to learn. I have methods that have helped me learn. I pass those methods on to people who might be helped by them. It's not meant for ALL people, just some people. Pushing back against something that may help people is undermining a process and putting people off who may be helped if they embrace these methods.

Instead of 'I can't see how this would work' or 'it doesn't work for me', perhaps 'It's not my approach but I'm sure it may help some people'? I don't treat writing as art, I treat it as a craft. When I've learned that craft, then I'll treat is as art. Until then, I'm a beginner.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Cold hard truth, here it is:
The reason for my threads. I want to learn.
Indeed, you've said this repeatedly.
Others want to learn. I have methods that have helped me learn. I pass those methods on to people who might be helped by them. It's not meant for ALL people, just some people.
Yet somehow in the discussion threads there isn't much consideration of any other idea, way of thinking, or way of working. You personally have a method, you like it, you post about it in very insistent terms and set about defending it as though it's been attacked.
Pushing back against something that may help people is undermining a process and putting people off who may be helped if they embrace these methods.
Actually, this is a discussion forum. The 'pushing back' is 'discussion'. No one is stopping you from learning however you learn. Or even expressing, "Hey, this is something I've found that works."
Instead of 'I can't see how this would work' or 'it doesn't work for me', perhaps 'It's not my approach but I'm sure it may help some people'? I don't treat writing as art, I treat it as a craft. When I've learned that craft, then I'll treat is as art. Until then, I'm a beginner.
Again, we're discussing. Sometimes when people discuss things there are various views expressed, not just one pet viewpoint. Being a beginner doesn't matter, all are welcome in the discussions.

If these ideas and methods that you're using aren't open to discussion, perhaps the discussion boards are a poor choice for posting them.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Nope, not just in writing. ANY artistic discipline has this problem. And it's very, very sad to take such a harsh and judgmental view of beginners who rush into working on something that they think will outlive them.

There is no turkey-timer that pops up when someone is studying an artistic discipline and suddenly "You're done! You can write your magnum opus/paint the next Mona Lisa/compose a masterpiece now". There really, really isn't. I suppose one could rely on the word of their teachers but usually any given teacher is teaching only part of the craft. I suppose you could say that no one should EVER create something big or meaningful unless they have a college degree but a student can become very proficient in all of the mechanical components they're asked to learn and still fail horribly when they first tackle their novel, painting, or musical composition.

Why?

Because there is quite a bit of learning that you learn by doing. I have recently heard that the only way to really, in the end, internalize how to write a book is to write a book.

And the arts aren't only mechanical ability, they're also about how to hook that up to imaginary vision. You don't have to do that in learning, say, plumbing or electrical work.

Yes, a lot of us will rush it. We have enthusiasm, we don't know what we know, we're impatient. We want to skip the boring stuff. We have something that's so strong in our heart and mind and imagination to create that we want to get it out there.

It's about trying to realize your vision. It's easy to mistake how much knowledge you need to make that work. I won't say that snobbery doesn't exist but I will say that whether this rushing is because of ignorance, enthusiasm, vivid imagination, or snobbery the craft will school you, send you back to learn components.

The arts will humble the artist and if that doesn't happen they'll have very limited success or none at all. That's their business.

It seems to me that those who HAVE learned much of a discipline should beware of snobbery toward those who are attempting to learn.
Great post. I think we need to differentiate between the mechanics of writing vs the ability to tell a story. BOTH are necessary to create a good book.

I would counsel would-be novelists to first:
Read A LOT.
Learn about grammar.
Start writing short stories or a blog.

Beyond that, writing novel length stories is the only way to learn how to write novel length stories.

In a sense, the run up to committing to a novel is similar to the plotting process - (NOTE: I am NOT promoting this method for others).
You work, work, work, and work some more on the plot, but eventually you have to pull the trigger and start writing the story. Which reminds me of DaVinci's Mona Lisa - which was never finished; he kept working and working on it trying to attain perfection - but perfection is impossible. If DaVinci couldn't do it, we stand no chance. So, at the end, we're left with preparing as best we can then just taking our best shot - THEN LEARNING FROM OUR MISTAKES.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
Without the basics in place, none of what you've just said matters. No one is ever going to read a badly written novel, even if the story is the greatest ever told. This is why I won't commit myself to writing a novel. I'm simply not good enough. When I'm good enough, I'll write that novel.
I think it's excellent to work on the finer aspects of the craft (sentence structure, POV, description, narration, etc.), and to practice these things in shorter forms (flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, etc.). It'll definitely improve your writing ability, in all of those regards. No question at all.

Though, one thing I've learned, since branching out from short fiction to long fiction, is that there are also skills specific to novel-length fiction that are best learned by . . . writing novels.

And I don't just mean writing a novel, and then expecting to have it all figured out. Rather, I mean: writing novels, plural. Lots and lots and lots of them. The more, the better.

Much like an accomplished marathon writer -- they're going to excel at marathon running not by doing a lot of short sprints, but by running a lot of marathons.

To be clear, though, I do think it's excellent to hone one's skills at shorter works. I definitely encourage it. But if one wants to get better at writing novels, they'll have to (at some point) write novels, as well. Because the novel form has its own learning curve, with its own specific aspects that (in my opinion) extend beyond what shorter fiction can teach.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I think it's excellent to work on the finer aspects of the craft (sentence structure, POV, description, narration, etc.), and to practice these things in shorter forms (flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, etc.). It'll definitely improve your writing ability, in all of those regards. No question at all.

Though, one thing I've learned, since branching out from short fiction to long fiction, is that there are also skills specific to novel-length fiction that are best learned by . . . writing novels.

And I don't just mean writing a novel, and then expecting to have it all figured out. Rather, I mean: writing novels, plural. Lots and lots and lots of them. The more, the better.

Much like an accomplished marathon writer -- they're going to excel at marathon running not by doing a lot of short sprints, but by running a lot of marathons.

To be clear, though, I do think it's excellent to hone one's skills at shorter works. I definitely encourage it. But if one wants to get better at writing novels, they'll have to (at some point) write novels, as well. Because the novel form has its own learning curve, with its own specific aspects that (in my opinion) extend beyond what shorter fiction can teach.
At the conclusion of every novel I take time to do a post mortem, to look at what worked and what didn't and consider changes to my process. No matter what unique process each of us use, I think it's a good idea to look for ways to improve.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I think it's excellent to work on the finer aspects of the craft (sentence structure, POV, description, narration, etc.), and to practice these things in shorter forms (flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, etc.). It'll definitely improve your writing ability, in all of those regards. No question at all.

Though, one thing I've learned, since branching out from short fiction to long fiction, is that there are also skills specific to novel-length fiction that are best learned by . . . writing novels.

And I don't just mean writing a novel, and then expecting to have it all figured out. Rather, I mean: writing novels, plural. Lots and lots and lots of them. The more, the better.

Much like an accomplished marathon writer -- they're going to excel at marathon running not by doing a lot of short sprints, but by running a lot of marathons.

To be clear, though, I do think it's excellent to hone one's skills at shorter works. I definitely encourage it. But if one wants to get better at writing novels, they'll have to (at some point) write novels, as well. Because the novel form has its own learning curve, with its own specific aspects that (in my opinion) extend beyond what shorter fiction can teach.
Yeah, I've only really had this approach for a couple of years. The previous 38 years of writing was just writing. During that time I'd written (but never finished) three novels. One reached 180 pages and the other two scraped just over 150 pages, although they were single spaced lines so it was probably a lot more pages. One of the reasons I never finished was lack of planning but another reason was me realising I wasn't good enough in terms of craft. I had some lovely sections here and there but there was no consistency.

So, I decided, if I was going to finally finish a novel, I'd better sharpen my craft first and plan better. And that's what I'm doing. First craft and then planning. Word choice has improved vastly, sentence structure is much tighter now, style is coming together nicely and I feel I'm closer to the vision I have for my voice than ever before. All in a matter of months and all because of my approach. 'I know what I'm doing' is something I'm (almost) comfortable with acknowledging to myself.

I've given myself a year though and I'll stick with it. I suppose, the best way of describing what I hope to achieve from my practice, is to build up muscle memory. To instinctively reach for that interesting verb, to instinctively write a tight and interesting sentence, to instinctively understand the rhythm that best fits the mood and tone I'm going for.

Next Feb is the treat for being a good and disciplined student! 'Wax on wax off ... wax on Wax off ...' :)
 
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Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
You can either spend years writing stories and learn over those years what works and what doesn't, or you can concentrate on strengthening your weaknesses. I can never understand why some people set out to write a novel when they're beginners. You see it all the time. I saw it in writing classes and on forums: I'm writing a trilogy and need help. Then they post their work, sometimes from nearly complete novels, and you could write a page of critique on the first paragraph alone. The words are ill chosen, the sentence structure is awkward, the thesaurus in on full display, the punctuation is wrong, the grammar is skew-whiff and on and on. The idea of writing the story has gotten in the way of them learning their craft. I have no idea why it's controversial to suggest you learn the craft first and then go onto bigger, more ambitious projects. Lack of patience?

Do you know what it really is? Up front: snobbery. Every other discipline starts with practice but writing ... oh no ... tis the muse that guides me. Writing isn't 'art' in the same way 'paint' isn't art. Until you've learned to use that paint well. Then what you create with that paint IS 'art'.

I'm a beginner fiction writer writing a novel, so I feel compelled to jump in here, and I can tell you it's not snobbery. While I've never taken a "writing class", I'm highly educated so having done a lot of writing naturally follows. When I decided to start writing fiction, there was no other choice, because I love novels, read novels, and only know novels. I belong to a book club...not a novella club...not a short-story club...not a poetry club. I don't read other forms of fiction, so how would I even know what to do?

And you are really going to hate me for saying this, but I had a great story in my mind and was totally inspired. Even now when I go back and read earlier chapters, I get goosebumps...the story is that good! The only downside that I can see with beginners writing a novel, is that it's a long time to wait to get recognition. I thought about writing some short stories, even just so I could participate in the workshops here, but I'm just not drawn to it. It would make writing a chore for me.

I think it's great that you share your process because as you say others may learn from it. And I find your forum threads incredibly entertaining. They really get me thinking. You have a real talent for getting people to react and respond and to be introspective. But it's clear you are struggling with some pressure you feel to write a novel. Perhaps you're the one who experiences it as a form of snobbery because you question yourself when you don't feel the urge as an artist to write a novel, you only feel the urge, as if it will prove something or put you into a different category, that is somehow superior. It's not! It's just another medium that suits some people better than others.

Frankly, with your talent for writing forum posts, you should consider writing non-fiction. How about taking all your thoughts about learning to write and documenting them in a journal-like format, where others could share your journey? It would be very entertaining.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
[...]
And you are really going to hate me for saying this, but I had a great story in my mind and was totally inspired. Even now when I go back and read earlier chapters, I get goosebumps...the story is that good! The only downside that I can see with beginners writing a novel, is that it's a long time to wait to get recognition. I thought about writing some short stories, even just so I could participate in the workshops here, but I'm just not drawn to it. It would make writing a chore for me.
[...]
That sounds really intriguing, I hope you're planning to publish! Which path will you take? Traditional or self publish? What are your goals with regard to that novel and your writing in general?
I think the last question speaks to the topic of this thread. I've heard about people who write a novel, but never think it's good enough for the traditional route. They spend their lives editing and rewriting that singular work... and then they die and leave it unpublished, and their relatives find it stashed away and just toss it into the trash.
I'm an old fart, started from nothing and worked hard then retired at 51. I have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life. I'm not after wealth or fame, my only goal is to write and share my stories - and the easiest way to do that (for me) is to self publish.
No story is ever perfect (some will argue that point, but never mind), so just do the very best you can and get it out there. There's nothing more sad than an unpublished masterpiece. Once that's done, you'll have learned a lot, so write another novel and share it with the world.
The nuts and bolts of your writing process is irrelevant; find your path, follow it, and get your stories out there to brighten the lives of your readers.
 
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