There is one word that appears in almost all craft books on writing – and especially on making a business and life with your writing: Perseverance.
I have come to both love and loathe the word. And all that it means. Especially that as the years (yes, years) pass, it comes to take on deeper meaning.
When you first start out planning to enter the business, perseverance seems more like “patience.” Have patience for how slow some things in the industry are. With yourself and how long it may take you to finish a draft, improve your craft, settle into your voice, etc. What this means is that while you have to wait, there’s still some guarantee of success in the end.
As you enter into the middle phase, you realize that perseverance isn’t just being patient and waiting, it can become a battle to survive. Beside and around you are fallen comrades, other writers, as talented (perhaps more so) than yourself, and yet they have inexplicably stopped writing. And then it happens to you, and you realize how one day missing writing, then a week, then a month, and suddenly, you haven’t been writing. And easier still, (since writers tend to be a neurotic sort in my experience – personal and otherwise), then the voices start in that suggest if you’re not writing and doing what “real writers” do, then “obviously,” you are not a writer. And this battle lengthens, coming in ebbs and flows of great resistance and high flights of fantasy where you imagine you can see the end of this steady war of attrition.
And then you enter another phase, where you come to realize that perseverance isn’t just a battle to be won or lost. It isn’t patiently waiting for guaranteed success at the end. Because there is no such thing as guaranteed success – and indeed, the odds of some definitions of “success” are rare indeed. And this, then, is the phase where you decide WHY you write. And why you MUST write. And these are the days when you sit down in front of the computer and you steadily add to your word count, rewrite and revise that manuscript, send out the submissions, and start a new book, not because you “know” success is waiting in the next reply, but because that is just what you do. And you write because writing is part of you, and in some ways, there isn’t all that much choice in the matter. Perseverance becomes part of life, a steady waiting game where there is no clock, and where the race is with yourself. Survival depends on inner determination and sometimes sheer stubbornness to keep writing new words, to keep reminding yourself that you’re a writer, and therefore you write.
Been there? Love to hear from you. 🙂
Keep writing out there. Keep adding to those word counts. And thanks for stopping by and reading.