I’ve been thinking a lot about persistence lately, especially in relation to experiencing success as a writer. I’ve always thought of it as a rather dogged approach of the most ambitious; that while most of us are only ever pulling half our best, the persistent are out there taking all opportunities, hopping up off the proverbial ground of rejection, discouragement or despair, and we are left to eat their dust.
But it hit me recently that persistence is a lot more like resilience than it is like ambition. Especially when we’re driven toward something we want from a truly deep and authentic place—and I don’t define what that is for anyone else—we keep getting up because what we want is something right for us.
As a writer I’ve had a winding path, and I choke on that word “success” because there has always been a vision holding its powerful sway over me that I am not as successful as I want to/could be; that I’ve squandered my time, not worked hard enough, not been tough enough to weather the blows. Thank goodness for my friends, who remind me that comparisons are pointless. I used to jokingly call my path the “stumble and fumble your way to success” plan for its complete lack of order. My main approach was to simply hurl myself at anything I hoped to achieve: landing a freelance article, writing and publishing a book, being asked to speak at a conference, with the energy of a Labrador puppy and the temporary armor of a keflex vest. When advice or centurions at the gates of success have told me “you can’t do it that way” I’ve tried anyway, and at least half the time, succeeded despite the best advice.
Persistence is resilience. But we’re only resilient when we feel nourished, supported or determined in one way or another. So this is my reminder to you:
- Create your writer’s code: Find out why you do what you do, go after your goals, and brand it on your forehead (okay, or put a sign up over your writing space) so you never forget. Revisit this once a year and see if it has changed.
- Call upon your support system to remind you of your worth and the value of persistence in times of doubt.
- Approach everything you want with a “yes” in your heart. Yes, you’re worthy, yes, there are often exceptions, yes, you will keep after it.
- Stack up your achievements, from the “smallest” to the ones that give you the biggest jolt of pride. Keep track: a list on the wall; a lovingly written compliment from a friend or colleague; clippings of your publications above your desk—put the evidence of your success in front of your own eyes.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my books.