Friday, December 3, 2010

6 Ways to Persevere

NaNoWriMo is over and many of us have reached our goals for last month, but there are still those final chapters we need to write, there’s still the editing we have to plough through, or an old project to return to. The freshness of our ideas may be exhausted after the initial charge. We may read over our past masterpieces and realise they aren’t masterpieces after all. We may have come a long way, but all we can see is how far we have yet to go.

This can be a discouraging time, so how do we keep going? How do we keep the passion for writing?

1. Remember the Love. Take a step back and ask yourself some key questions: Can I stop writing? Can I silence those character voices in my head? Can I bear to dream and not write about it? Would I be satisfied to spend copious amounts of time and energy on my stories and not try to get them published? Only you can answer these questions. The answers will tell you where your passion lies.

2. Take a Break. This is one of my favourite tips, but also one I find the hardest to fulfil without feeling guilty. But every time I do convince myself to step away from the purple pen or the computer keyboard, I’m given a fresh perspective and my passion is renewed.

3. Find a Support Group. Support groups come in many flavours. For me the blogging community has been an amazing support. Also, critique partners, mentors, friends, the cheer squad of our families. These all help us to keep going.

4. Know You Aren’t Alone. Talk to other writers for any length of time and you’ll discover the struggles you are facing are shared by all of us. This includes the established authors. In many ways we are frail creatures with the tendency to question everything -- even ourselves. Knowing we aren’t alone, knowing we are normal, makes it easier to persevere.

5. Practise Forgiveness. Know your first draft mistakes can me fixed, even the second or third or fifteenth. Be kind to yourself, be patient, and practise forgiveness.

6. Remember it’s Worth It. So what if agents get a billion submissions a day? So what if you think there are better writers out there? So what if the process is so slow you fear you’ll enter old age before you get published? It’s all worth it in the end. To see your book on the shelves, or on the online lists, is a dream come true.

How do you persevere?

38 comments:

  1. What an encouraging post. I know personally that taking the break I did was the best thing I could have done. I'm feeling more refreshed and enjoying the writing so much more.

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  2. Terri, breaks are fabulous. I'm planning a break in the next week or so. It is much needed.

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  3. Thanks for the reminder; I don't think any of us could actually walk away from our writing, published or not.

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  4. Cinette, I gave up once. A long time ago. Silly me.

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  5. Your advice is excellent. And how interesting that so many of the comments center around taking a break? I thought I was the only one so obsessed that I feel guilty over any evening when I'm not laboring over a piece of writing.

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  6. "We may read over our past masterpieces and realise they aren’t masterpieces after all."

    oh, isn't that the worst moment? I know it often happens to a lot of artists who usually think their current work is the best one being blinded by the creative fervor ... and then you go back after some time and realise the master piece wasn't so masterful :)

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  7. I like this list! What great reminders. One of the things I do is read a bunch of books, but then that probably comes under take a break.

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  8. I do like practise forgiveness!! Your first draft is definitely not the best but at least the idea is there and on paper and written and just needs polishing and tweaking!!

    I also like the taking breaks - you've all worked so hard this month, having a break to recharge is a nice thing to do!

    Thanks for an uplifting post! Take care
    x

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  9. Great tips. I persevere through annoyance i.e. I get annoyed at myself if I stop writing, so I carry on writing :P

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  10. Good advice, Lynda.

    I think passion is the most important thing. To love the story with a passion keeps us from never giving up on it.

    Jai

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  11. I think all of your points are great, especially number three. If we don't have some sort of support group in place (e.g. critique group, writing group, etc.) then I believe we suffer as writers. We need to hear one another's stories in order to not only learn from them, but to know we are not alone. Besides, who else knows better about what we're trying to accomplish than other writers? Our spouses, friends, and family are always trying to encourage us, but sometimes that's like me sitting down trying to learn rocket science -- it doesn't work very well if I don't understand a thing about how it works.

    In all, thanks for the great list!

    ♥ Mary Mary

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  12. Perseverance is perhaps the hardest thing for a writer to accomplish. I guess if it weren't, it couldn't be called perseverance.

    Fortunately, I'll always choose to persevere.

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  13. Thanks for this encouragement just when I need it! This is such great advice for sticking with it and still loving it!

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  14. NaNo helped me really get into my story - and I'm more excited now than when I began. Still a lot to write, but it'll be fun!
    Oh, and I like editing. Yeah, weird Alex.

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  15. Great advice. I definitely needed this right now! How did you know??

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  16. Perseverance is always a challenge, especially when it accompanies rejection. I haven't experienced this yet because I'm still finishing my first W.I.P. But, I know it will be coming. I just remind myself why I started doing this - I'm writing for me. Writing is a very cathartic activity that allows me to heal from different setbacks. I enjoy taking my emotions and channeling them into a story about something entirely different, and I always look forward to reading the final product. It's that moment that makes me keep going.

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  17. Great advice! My life gets into these crazy busy spots that enforce breaks - strangely I think that helps! :)

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  18. Aurora, since writing isn't a 9-5 job, I have to catch whatever free time I have to write. So, taking a break gives me "free time" and thus i should be writing. The crazy logic of a crazy writer.

    Dianne, that's it! an obessesion! Yes! :)

    Dezzybabyhun, I think we have to be blinded by that creative fervor otherwise we build up so much doubt about our work we can't go on. Hehehe

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  19. Karen, I was so itching to read again once Novemeber finished. I've already ploughed through two books.

    Old Kitty, practising forgiveness is something I have to do on a daily basis -- especially when I start to revise.

    Jamie, haha I love it. Yes!! That happens to me as well :)

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  20. Jai, Passion is definitely what keeps me going.

    Mary Mary, Back in my teens I avoided any kind of support group apart from my mum. At the time I had no idea of the value of the support other writers can give.

    Jeffrey, yes indeed :)

    Shallee, so glad it helped :)

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  21. Alex, That's so awesome to hear. One day you'll have to tell me your secret about loving editing ;)

    Melissa, I'm psychic

    Paul, rejection is so difficult to take precisely because writing is so personal. Reading the final product is the best, though.

    Jemi, I don't doubt it for a second.

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  22. Great post Lynda. Hits a soft spot this morning

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  23. practice forgiveness...
    never thought of it that way!
    thanks! :)

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  24. Great post!! It is so important to be supportive to our creative selves!

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  25. Lynda, I take a break and go through my older lot of books and tell myself that if I can do it once, then I can definitely do it again. This way of thinking perks me up. :)

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  26. I think a break is the most important tip.

    I keep busy with short stories between novels. I'll research the next and start making notes on it.

    Writers groups, workshops, etc ... are important. You learn you're not alone and you learn it may take some time before 'published' comes along. But you see persistance pays off - if you keep an open mind to keep learning and growing along the way.

    :D Revisioning can be fun. I learned to alter my perspective and attitude on it. It is as creative as the writing process. A lot more work, but just as creative. It's where all the magic happens. :) We take those golden tidbits and tailor them to be deliberate. Magic.

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  27. Ben, hope it helped.

    Aspiring, hugs

    Paul, ah, the creative self. If only I could toss it in a dark corner somewhere and it could look after itself ;)

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  28. Rachna, yes, reading through a successful piece can be a great ego boost and a great motivator all at once.

    M Pax, short stories are a great way to keep the creative mind fresh and they are a great way to take a break from the novel. One day I'll learn to like revisions.

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  29. Yes...breaks are crucial. I always try to remind myself that if I never get published, I still want to have lived my life--enjoyed relationships, experienced places and things, and basically did something besides writing. But I wouldn't want to give the writing up because it's something I enjoy, even if I don't become published.

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  30. Very good advice.

    Even if you give up, don't toss out your old manuscripts. For a lot of writers, maybe most, that quitting turns out to be a break. We all need a break, be it an afternoon or a year, once in a while.

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  31. Great tips! I get discouraged sometimes, but I know I can't stop writing - I'd be too miserable.

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  32. Oh, I so needed to see this. I got stuck on my Nano novel on the last day of November. (Good time to get stuck, I guess.) If I'm to continue on the track I ended on, I need research books the library can't or won't provide and they're horribly expensive to buy. So I'm sitting here, twiddling my fingers and beating myself up for doing something so worthless. But is it really worthless? Something's going on in my brain, whether I'm aware of it or not! LOL

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  33. If I get stuck I get stuck I start something new. Right now I'm stuck, I mean really stuck...with the whole process. I'm going to work on some craft ideas and write for fun and not think about submitting. I think maybe I over think the finding the perfect place to submit to. I spend weeks researching who to send to, who works there, their likes and dislikes, the current list and then decide my ms isn't right...whew...

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  34. Great post and great advice! It's really is such a wonderful feeling to know we're not alone, isn't it? It's like taking a road trip with some of your best friends :)

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  35. Great post! I think that I just remember that this is the thing I want to do most in life, even though it's hard sometimes.

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  36. Carol, I think 'living our life' is crucial not only for a break from writing, but also as an inspiration for writing.

    Helen, that's so true. I quit for many years but came back. I can't bring myself to toss any of my writing.

    Susan, yep, writing keeps us sane and happy :)

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  37. Victoria, no writing is worthless. You might one day find that information you are after.

    Sharon, ah yes, that sounds so familiar. The business side of writing is no fun so it's good to get back and do some writing that's strictly for you.

    WritingNut, that's a great way of putting it: a road trip! Love it.

    Alexia, yep, for sure! :)

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