A Little Persistence Goes a Long Way

For several days now I’ve been chomping at the bit to get a post up, while simultaneously wringing my hands: What to say, what to say? Like having five or so readers made my mind explode or something.There was also a ravaging bout of Self Doubt in there, always a good time for anyone trying to juggle a few too many things in not enough hours. Combine that with editing the WIP (which turns the internal editor into full gear cutting and slicing the unnecessary and stupid), and you get a distinct lack of output.

But the first piece of real writing advice I ever received was “Be persistent.” I was eleven, and I had (apparently) just knocked my teacher’s socks off with my Oregon Trail story. My teacher arranged for me to speak with the school’s social worker, who was also a published children’s author. A real live author! I even got to read a manuscript in progress — I don’t know how helpful I was, but how awesome is that? I still remember the advice, actually written down in some end of the year note: “Remember — successful writers aren’t necessarily the most talented, but the ones who persist the most.”

Persistence. We can make it sound noble, doing something in the face of terrible odds, but there’s nothing particularly noble about that. Just insane. No, the more noteworthy form of persistence is setting yourself up against yourself, ignoring the whispered doubts that come from within. It’s not that hard to sit down and write even when someone else is telling you to stop. How much harder when you are telling yourself to stop, when you are second-guessing every decision?

Self doubt is a hellish beast, but not unconquerable. Self doubt is the reason having a specific schedule for writing is so important — because when I start thinking I have no business writing, suddenly I have a block of time wholly unfamiliar to me. And I usually end up filling it with the usual thing: a bit of writing, no matter how awful. A little persistence, and the next thing you know writing itself is a habit, a part of your schedule like eating or showering. You just do it. Eventually, something worth saving emerges.

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