Quote of the Day: Terry Rossario

Bad writers are bad because they stop too soon. In fact, let’s take a step back. The only quality, I think, that marks the writer as different from everyone else is simply an unwillingness to quit. Others give up when they learn writing is hard; the writer struggles on. When I sit down in front of the blank page, it’s no easier for me to fill it than anyone else. The non-writer looks at the blank page and — quite sensibly — says, ‘forget it, I’m outta here.’ But if they had to, they could put a few words down there — just like I do. Only the words wouldn’t be any good. So the non-writer gets frustrated, gives up and leaves. Me, too, I get frustrated… but I sit there, and work to make it better. Anybody who’s willing to struggle, I think, can write. The real work is to stick at it until you find the gold. To get to that funny line. To do the hard work no one else wants to do, but everyone wants to have done. To discover the great character bit, the clever story turn. Until you have it, you don’t have it. Until it’s there, it’s not there — and you need to stick at it until it is there. 

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  1. You could make a case for the opposite: Bad writers are bad because they start too soon. I.e., before they’ve fully learned the craft. They (bad writers, as opposed to non-writers) don’t know it’s hard, so they don’t quit, they plunge ahead, think what they’ve done is wonderful, and then go out and inflict it on others. This is admirable; they’ve created and they’ve shared. Good. But in a vacuum. Bad. What agony awaits them when they finally show their script to someone unconstrained by familial affection or friendship, someone honest!

    So knowing when to start is important. But so is knowing when to stop. Some writers endlessly polish manuscripts, year after year, and never really let go of them.


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