Someone asked me a few days ago how to write a book.
Since I am obviously a professional and have coached people through the process and know everything, I explained in detail how to get from an idea to the finished product.
Actually, I hemmed and hawed a good deal and gave a vague answer that had something to do about being faithful and writing a lot.
It is important to note that the person asking me was not a writer. Or much of a reader either. The fact that they asked me that question made it obvious.
Those of us who are writers know that there is no real answer to that question.
But the question made me think, and I realized later that—although my answer was stilted and a little confused—it was the right one.
Nothing—not talent, not passion, not connections—is more important to a writer’s journey than persistence.
People ask me all the time what ‘inspires me’ when I write. I usually laugh and tell them that inspiration is overrated. It feels nice, it gets words out for a little while, but it fades.
So does excitement for an idea.
Persistence is the only thing that gets me to the end of a project. Sometimes it means writing when I don’t feel like it. Sometimes it means writing the most awful drivel I have ever had the audacity to throw on paper, just to get something down that I can fix later. Whatever the case, I have found persistence to be far more important than anything else in a writer’s journey.
I’m going to tell you a horrible secret.
Actually, it’s not a secret. But I’m going to tell you anyway.
I’ve written more trash than I have good, solid content.
I’m serious. Some of the chapters in my books have been written four or more times. And not just edited—trashed and started over. I’ve trashed entire manuscripts and started over.
I do it a lot.
In fact, I’ll be doing it again soon. The third book in my series needs a serious overhaul, and I fully intend to dump the entire thing in the trash and start back at the beginning. Not because it’s unredeemable, but because I want my books to be the best that they can be, and I am willing to go the extra mile to make sure they reach that level.
The point is not to make more work for myself, I promise. It’s to value my career and my writing enough to be persistent in seeing my book become the best it can be. And sometimes, that really does mean struggling through a hard day or making the rough decisions.
Four Tips To Apply It In Your Own Life
1. Have a routine. Know when you’re supposed to write and show up. Brew your tea or coffee, switch off your phone, start that playlist that gets you in the mood, and start. If you’re a morning person, don’t hit snooze. If you’re a night owl, switch off Netflix and Youtube and commit to your story for a while.
2. Know your priorities and stick to them. When you’re writing, you’re busy. You’re working. No one has to know any different, not that one friend who always wants you to come pick them up, not the person asking you to take their shift at work, and not the coworker who has plans for you after work. Your time is your own, and your writing is allowed to take priority if you so choose.
3. Pay more attention to where you’ve been than where you’re going. Writing is a long road, and it can get so discouraging to continually be looking at how far you have to go. Instead, take a glance over your shoulder. Admire how far you’ve come. There are people who are striving to get where you are now and feel like they might never make it. Celebrate your progress!
4. Write. Honestly, it’s as simple as that. Sit down and write. It doesn’t matter whether you have ten minutes or ten hours, or whether you get a hundred words or a thousand. The point is, you sat down and you did it. That’s persistence, and that’s what will help you to the finish line more than anything else.
Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.
Was this post helpful to you? Tell me about it in the comments, and drop in any tips of your own! I would love to hear about it.
This is the last installment in my series, 9 Truths for a Writer’s Soul. I so enjoyed this journey with you, and I hope you will tune in next week as we tackle 8 Habits for a Healthy Writer.
Until next time!