These writing tips from Chuck Palahniuk are a couple of years old now, but good advice doesn’t come with a Use By Date. My favourite is number seven:
Let yourself be with Not Knowing. This bit of advice comes through a hundred famous people, through Tom Spanbauer to me and now, you. The longer you can allow a story to take shape, the better that final shape will be. Don’t rush or force the ending of a story or book. All you have to know is the next scene, or the next few scenes. You don’t have to know every moment up to the end, in fact, if you do it’ll be boring as hell to execute.
Because that’s pretty much how I write. Even when I think I know the end, that’s not always the place I end up once a story is finished. For me, writing is an exploration — of characters, of ideas, of situations — and the best part about the process is the uncertainty. The sense of feeling my way into a story, and back out of it again. The surprises and the revelations to be discovered as I go along. It can also be scary, like being adrift on an ocean at night without a compass, or even stars. You just have to listen, and feel, and trust that you’re heading in the right direction — or that the direction in which you’re heading will eventually lead you to the right place. Because it usually does.
Sometimes I just needed to be reminded that this is how it works, that this is how it’s meant to work. So, thanks Chuck, for the timely poke in the ribs.