One of the questions that I get way too often in my life is, “How are your books coming?”
It’s understandable, actually. People know I’m working on a book series. They know I’ve been working on it for a long time—seven years, in fact. And most people aren’t aware of how slow the publishing industry really is or how long it takes to write a book.
For those of you who don’t know—it takes years. And I do mean years.
Seven years is a long time. But, no, I am not published yet. I will probably not be published for a while yet. I am only just now starting to be paid for the craft that I have spent so long honing and learning, and guess what?
I’m still learning.
Really. I spent seven years working my butt off, practicing, studying, and correcting my mistakes, just to become an apprentice. And you know what?
It was worth every single second. Really. I love my job, I love that I get paid to hone my craft and practice my passion, and I love that I get to learn from people who are as close to mastering their craft as most people get.
But in all those seven years, I didn’t know it would end up like this. I didn’t know if I would ever get published, or ever make enough money to support myself, or ever have anyone care that I was a writer and had something to offer.
But I wrote anyway.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
~ Mary Ann Radmacher
Tenacity is one of the most important traits of any writer who intends to see their work sitting on a shelf. I cannot begin to count the many times that I wanted to give up in the last few years. How many times I worried that I should have come up with a backup plan when I first started this crazy venture. I worked as a nanny for seven years, and I was terrified that I would end up doing that for the rest of my life.
I didn’t. But I sure wondered a few times.
The point is, if you give up, drop your dream when it gets hard and move on to something else, you will never see how amazing your life could have been. And your books will never, no matter how much you love them, see the light of day.
Tips to Cultivate Tenacity.
1. Spend less time worrying about the end result and more time enjoying the process. The times I was the most afraid for myself and my future were always the times I spent way, way too much time obsessing about when things were going to happen. I wanted answers, I wanted a plan, I wanted a solid time of when my life was going to come together and I was going to be able to sustain my writing without a supplementary job. It never helped and always, always stole my joy. The best moments were when I let the future stay where it was—out of sight—and focused on the task in front of me. Those moments brought me where I am today.
2. Finish the projects you start. Commit to them. A book you never finish is a book that will never get published, and although you may learn a great deal from it, you’ll also set a habit by abandoning it and moving on to something else when you get bored, stuck, or simply have another idea. Giving up is a habit. So is typing ‘The End’. Choose your habits.
3. When you have a brilliant new idea, jot it down in a notebook and leave it there. Let it sit. Let it simmer in the back of your mind, turning over, getting the time it needs to develop. A brand new idea is not a book. It’s not even a story yet. It needs time, and your current WIP needs time too. So let it sit, just for now, and come back later.
4. Set goals and celebrate milestones. What do you want from your writing? Do you know? What do you, as a writer, want to accomplish this year, or this month, or simply just today? Write it down. Have a to-do list, and celebrate when you mark things off. And when you type ‘The End’? Open a bottle of something sparkly and make a night of it. If you don’t celebrate your milestones, it’s far, far too easy to let yourself think that there hasn’t been any.
Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.