Persistence is futile – I mean – essential

 

I think I may have written about this topic before, but I feel it’s one of the most under-estimated skills any writer can have. (Persistence, I mean, not repeating yourself, I do that all the time. Actually that is useful too, for helping me to remember things through repetition…)What is persistence?

To me persistence means a dogged determination to the point of stubbornness to keep going, overcome resistance in yourself and the world around you, to press on towards a goal you have no tangible proof you will ever reach. It means turning your back on discouragement, detractors, self-doubt (which most writers have in abundance?, laziness, weariness, even pain and illness to MAKE yourself achieve something specific or reach a certain goal.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Why is persistence a useful tool to have in your arsenal? What does it contribute to your life or work?

Persistence:

  • is character-building – you come to realise you are capable of more than you may have believed initially.
  • is prioritising – you realise that the most important things in life don’t come without you working hard for them.
  • you learn to persevere, and build resilience and inner strength.
  • you learn to trust yourself and believe in yourself.
  • you come to value the results of your hard work.
  • when times are tough, you have previous experience to draw on to get you through.

How to be persistent:
  • Eat well, sleep well, take care of yourself, allow yourself down-time.
  • Develop a routine. Routines can enhance creativity, rather than block it or stifle it. A routine means you are mentally prepared at a certain time to undertake a specific task. that means half the work is done already!!
  • Keep a journal to record your feelings, even the negative ones. Allow yourself to rant or wail if need be. Don’t forget to record your successes, though, as these will keep you going during tough times when you feel like nothing is working.
  • Talk to people who understand and support you. You don’t need to be alone in the middle of your struggle.
  • Set manageable goals, even if it means doing a larger number of smaller tasks rather than a few big tasks. Breaking a large task or goal into small pieces is the key approach. By chipping away at a large task bit by bit you will make progress – it may not be easy to see the results right away but it is easier to work this way in the long haul, and achieving many small goals is excellent for your confidence. This is also a great way to talk yourself into tackling what feels like an impossible or overwhelming job.
  • Don’t listen to your negative thoughts. Learn to recognise then ignore your inner critic who tells you things like: ‘this is a waste of time’, ‘you’ll never be good enough’, or ‘it’s too hard for you’, and that old favourite, ‘not everyone is destined to succeed’. This is probably the hardest thing to overcome, and really requires you to laugh at the inner voice or negative thought and say ‘so what, I’m going to do it anyway.’
  • Roll up your sleeves, grit your teeth, and get on with it. Don’t wait until you are ‘in the mood’ or feel inspiration strike. Nine times out of ten, inspiration waits for you to make the first move. Show the universe – and yourself – that you are going to do this.
  • Reward yourself and feel proud of your achievements. And don’t whatever you do, punish yourself if you feel you have fallen short of your goal. Remember too that pride in a job well done is not a sensation that you necessarily get right away. If you have been engaged for a long time on a demanding project, it can take quite a while to recover, then feel a sense of satisfaction. Be patient, be kind to yourself.

Basically persistence is being super stubborn, and refusing to give in or back down. Find what you want to do and do everything in your power to do it.

Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, perseverance, and facing your fears.

Gillian Anderson

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The Long Road

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Writing a book is a process. And quite a lengthy one at that. Often we think that the difficult bit is getting the idea and setting it all down on the page. Or maybe we think the hard part is the effort of writing, day after day, week after week.

But in actual fact, writing a book is only the first half of the long process, the long road. Because after the writing comes the editing, the revising, the editing, the revising, followed by the editing and maybe some revising. Then there’s beta-reading. And leaving it to ‘mature’. Followed by some revising and possibly a bit more editing.

One day – one wonderful day – your ‘baby’ is published. And you feel like you can sit back and relax, heaving a sigh of relief as you do so.  Well, okay, maybe just for a few minutes.

Then it’s back to work. No, not on a new book! You’ve still got to promote and market this one! You need to engage readers, you need to tell the world about your book. Yes it is so, so exciting. But…

If you’re struggling in the middle of all this, if you’re wondering why it’s not fun any more, or why you feel anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, exhausted, emotional, or bewildered, and you feel that your ‘baby’ is not the cute little bundle of joy you were expecting… relax. It’s okay. You’re normal. We all feel like this sometimes.

Because, to repeat myself, it is a process.

It can be demoralising. You can end up feeling you hate your book and wondering why you didn’t stick with your day-job. In fact, I read ‘somewhere’ that if you don’t hate your book by the time it is published, you haven’t done enough work on it. I can honestly say that by the time my first book was ‘out there’ I hated the very sight of it.

But I did it. I published a book. And it was a draining, exhausting, wonderful, fulfilling, exciting process. The sense of achievement took a long time to filter through, but eventually I was able to regard my work with pride. And somehow, I managed to do it again. You will too. If I can do it, with all my ignorance, lack of skills, naivete and my lack of marketing savvy, then you most definitely can too.

So if you’re struggling. If you wonder where the magic went, and whether it’s worth all this hassle, and feel like giving up, stop worrying. You’re doing it right. This is what it’s like – this is the process. You’re doing it right. Just carry on.