Lessons in Persistence

JordanA Writer's Guide to Persistence, Business of Writing

Guest post by Rebecca Strong

the coverI have a difficult time giving up. Some people call it stubbornness. Others call it pig-headedness. But I’ve decided to call it persistence. Because, you know, it’s a nicer way of looking at a character trait that’s while not exactly endearing to some gets you what you’ve set out to achieve.

Persistence is the reason my debut novel has just come out. It’s the reason I didn’t give up after I queried almost one hundred agents and received either crickets or rejections back. It’s the reason I decided to play a #PitMad Twitter game even though my book isn’t of the genre where this game yields results. It’s the reason I keyed in 140 characters at 2 o’clock in the morning when people in my time zone were either just going out or drifting off into dreamland. It’s the reason I got my tweet ‘favorited’ by a small press. And it’s the reason that a book with a kick-ass female protagonist, a gorgeous cover, and a fun & funny narrative is now available everywhere the books are sold.

More than just about not-giving-up, persistence is about believing. Believing in yourself, your craft, your ability to reach that thing you’ve been stretching for. I started writing in English at twenty-two – barely a few months after landing in the US. No one thought I could become a writer. Not my parents, not my partner, not even myself at first. But I kept going. Clichés littered my lines, grammar errors populated my sentences, and tense confusion reined. But I persevered. I wrote short stories. I finished my first novel and started my second. I penned a screenplay.

And I submitted. By post at first and then – when internet became a thing – by e-mail and through fancy submission managers. I created an excel file where I color coded rejections green, rejections-with-invitation-to-submit-again yellow, and acceptances blue. With time my list began looking more like the Ukrainian flag and less like a golf course.

Persistence is about believing. Believing in yourself, your craft, your ability to reach that thing you’ve been stretching for.

I still get ‘a’ and ‘the’ confused and my constant spurn of past perfect requires intervention by friends. But I keep writing. And I keep submitting. And I keep publishing.

And so should you.


Rebecca Strong’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward, The Christian Science Monitor, Ozy, and xoJane, among others. Her debut novel, WHO IS MR. PLUTIN? is a funny, yet precarious, tale about what happens if you find yourself in Russia involved in a conspiracy that includes a sitting President, two political superpowers, a radioactive substance, and a lot of Dom Pérignon. For more about Rebecca and her writing please visit www.rebecca-strong.com


Women in Red high resIf you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to this blog or sign up for my newsletter. Also check out my books: Women in RedA Writer’s Guide to Persistence, Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time and, Forged in Grace.


The THIRD Annual Plot & Scene Writing Retreat with Martha Alderson happens at the Mt. Madonna Retreat Center, May 6-8, 2016.





Photo by Wajahat Mamood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License.



JordanLessons in Persistence