Today I’m going to talk about persistance. I think basically that’s what good writing is all about. That one word. Get some discouraging feedback roll with it and persist. Realize you have to rewrite your opening chapter for the ten billionth time? Do it. Persist. Get one rejection, get a hundred, persist. Keep trying. Get discouraged. That’s fine for a minute, but it shouldn’t lead to giving up. Keep on keeping on, right?
This is basically a pep talk for myself, but maybe someone else can benefit from it too so I’m tossing it into the void. I didn’t really receive a formal education when it came to creative writing, the closest I got was textbooks on the subject when I was being homeschooled through high school. My mom, not familiar with creative writing herself, could only help so much and though I reached out to online communities for feedback, a lot of those contacts were kids like me who gave me a pat on the back and a high five (virtually). More recently I’ve had the privilege of working with a whole bunch of wonderful critique partners feeling each other out and seeing if we can work together. Even the ones who don’t work out have taught me something and sometimes I learn just as much from another writers’ manuscript as I do from their direct feedback.
Most recently, I swapped chapters with a writer who’s work really seemed to shine and I know you’re not supposed to compare, but maybe as long as you don’t let it discourage you it’s okay sometimes. What I realized is that her work seemed so much more polished than mine. The story grabbed you right away, she introduced the world in a subtle way that drew the reader in and she didn’t overwhelm you with too many characters or too much information and the action that happened was enough to catch your interest, but not make your head explode. Just in a few chapters exchange I learned a ton from her. I will admit I did spend a little time wallowing and worrying and fretting. Because I’m not good enough, I have so much to learn, maybe I’ll never be wise enough to create a world and people from my imagination and paint them on the page or the screen in a believable engaging way. You know, all those sorts of thoughts, but then I realized I haven’t spent years, days and hours working on this to give up. What’s the one piece of advice nearly every artist, writer, skilled-person gives? Practice. Which basically whittles down to keep trying, persisting.
So I will. If you’re reading this and trying to achieve something you want badly, you should too. Because you don’t get good enough by giving up which maybe seems like an obvious statement, but I think we forget this when we’re being hard on ourselves.