Welcome to the Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club! Every Wednesday, we meet to discuss one of the lessons in Dojo Wisdom for Writers. We’ll go in order, so it’s easy enough to follow along. Read the lesson, then read the blog post, then comment in the comments! Do feel free to comment on each other’s comments. I’ll answer questions as quickly as I can.
Lesson #10 – Perseverance brings rewards
This is my “eat your spinach” lesson. You have to do the hard work to get the results you want. This is true of everything in life, whether it’s losing ten pounds or paying off a debt or getting into grad school. It’s true of writing.
“Perseverance brings rewards” is simple in the sense that the concept isn’t hard to grasp. “Keep trying” is fairly self-explanatory. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy—that it’s effortless to sit there day after day, year after year, writing words that maybe no one ever reads. It gets harder if you don’t get some validation—a story published, a good review, a letter from a fan.
And while other factors play a role in your success as a writer—luck, talent, the ability not to piss off everyone you meet—perseverance is the one thing that you can control. You can decide not to give up. You can keep on writing no matter what.
That’s not to say that you should keep doing the same thing year after year even if it doesn’t get you anywhere. That’s the definition of insanity, not the definition of perseverance. But most people give up too soon (after five rejection letters or a month of hard effort). They don’t work hard enough for long enough to succeed.
I find that exploring new ways of doing things helps me keep persevering. Earlier this year I went on a creative retreat with a visual artist to explore the possibility of learning to illustrate some of what I write. I came back energized for a new project (which, interestingly enough, had nothing to do with drawing).
What are some things you do or say if you feel your motivation starting to flag?