Every Wednesday, I will slap you on the side of the head with my Wedge of Writerly Wisdom.
I may not know a lot of things, but for the sake of your entertainment, I will pretend.
This is Wednesday Wisdom #1.
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That’s a word that gets tossed around like a hot potato. It’s the kind of word that belongs on inspirational posters. It’s not just a word we associate with annoying pests like rats, roaches, and car salesmen. Persistence is a super power and it’s a trait that you can identify in any successful person. More importantly, it’s a trait that every writer has to possess in order to succeed in today’s publishing environment.
Here’s a garden variety definition of the word from Dictionary.com:
“Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”
A typical indie writer faces a mountain of difficulties or opposition. The inherent nature of an indie writer’s life includes the knowledge that he or she is most definitely going against the grain of the writing and publishing industry; opposition is a way of life. The mainstream publishers have tightened their grips on the contracts and licensing agreements; most legacy gatekeepers approach the digital age of publishing with a brooding attitude and an inability to understand the legitimacy of indie authors in general. As professional writers, indie authors know all too well the amount of opposition that they face.
But an indie author faces other kinds of obstacles. The grueling day job steals time that could be used for writing sessions; personal emergencies dictate when an indie writer can and can’t write. Family obligations limit the amount of time a writer can dedicate to any work in progress. As I've experienced firsthand, the nose-diving economy can severely damage a writer’s ability to finish a piece of work. And when a creative person is faced with this kind of relentless storm of resistance, the imagination can go dry like a sponge. This is essentially the same as bleeding out an animal while it’s still alive; there is a sense of agony, despair, and ultimate acceptance.
Too often, creativity is stomped to death by life’s problems. A great idea, a masterpiece of fiction or a beautiful song can be laid to waste before it’s even enjoyed by anyone.
That’s why persistence is essential for any creative endeavor.
If we give up washing dishes because it’s too hard, then our kitchen becomes a wasteland. If we give up on love because relationships are so difficult to navigate, then we die lonely and unappreciated. If we give up on anything in the face of difficulty or out of a simple fear of whatever obstacles might arise, then we are failures. And that’s no way to live the short lives we have.
I recently heard a wise comedian* say, “Failure is not trying.” That’s a simple philosophy and I don’t know if the comedian actually created the idea himself; nonetheless, it’s a notion that can change a person’s life. As long as you try, without giving a damn about the consequences or the obstacles or what other people might say about your work, then you are a success.
When life offers an onslaught of distractions, don’t give up. Put the pen to the paper, fall in love with the story, and don’t walk away.
Don’t be a person who tried to be a writer and gave up.
Just be a writer who kept trying. And see where it takes you.
What daily distractions or obstacles have you faced as a writer, artist, or human being? How do you cope with those obstacles and maintain balance in your life? Leave a comment below and we'll compare notes.
*The wise comedian is none other than Mister Garry Shandling, who is pretty much a modern day Yoda.