As a writer, how important is perseverance?

The novel I’m writing at the moment has been with me for a long time. I originally had the idea back in 2006 when I was taking a creative writing class at university. I attempted to write the novel a couple of times but always ended up chucking it in because it wasn’t coming out the way I wanted it to. I have about 80,000 discarded words laying around and while the 45,000 words I’ve written this time aren’t great, I’ve learnt that I need to keep going, to keep writing. Because otherwise, I’ll never get this novel done.

Which got me thinking about writing and perseverance and how important it is. I think a lot of writers just “give up” when a story isn’t working for them or “give up” after they receive a couple of rejection letters.

I think everyone has this fairytale in their mind that writing and publishing will be hard for everyone else, but easy for them. Which I think is a good view to have, because otherwise the uphill battle might seem a bit too much, but I think at the end of the day, dedication and perseverance is what makes good/successful writers. Because when it all comes down to it, I might write five or six novels before finding an agent… and I’m kind of okay with that.

It’s like what Jodi Picoult said in this interview:

And – here’s a critical part – when you finally start to write something, do not let yourself stop…even when you are convinced it’s the worst garbage ever. This is the biggest caveat for beginning writers. Instead, force yourself to finish what you began, and THEN go back and edit it. If you keep scrapping your beginnings, however, you’ll never know if you can reach an end.

Thoughts?

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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95 Responses to As a writer, how important is perseverance?

  1. Harliqueen says:

    Perseverance is one of a writer’s best skills 😀 The ability to keep pressing on, through doubt, rejection and unseen moments. In the end, when things start going well, it is all worth it and all that pain and determination seems distant 🙂 Great post!

    Like

  2. Harliqueen says:

    Perseverance is one of a writer’s best skills 😀 The ability to keep pressing on, through doubt, rejection and unseen moments. In the end, when things start going well, it is all worth it and all that pain and determination seems distant 🙂 Great post!

    Like

  3. Janey Haas says:

    I love this post, Jodie. You’re right on about not giving up. I think finding an agent or publisher is a lot like finding that special someone. If a couple of relationships don’t work out for whatever reason, we don’t scrap the whole idea of dating. Why would we do that with writing? We just need to keep trying.

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  4. Janey Haas says:

    I love this post, Jodie. You’re right on about not giving up. I think finding an agent or publisher is a lot like finding that special someone. If a couple of relationships don’t work out for whatever reason, we don’t scrap the whole idea of dating. Why would we do that with writing? We just need to keep trying.

    Like

  5. leesha0304 says:

    Great post! Doubt is a huge part of the process (at least for me) in finishing any writing that I do. For years, I would start something that really spoke to me and the convince myself that it was stupid or not a worthwhile project. But eventually, I learned first to live with the doubt and then how to try to ignore it when it rears its ugly little head. But it’s still out there. 😦

    Good luck fighting your own doubt-demons.

    Like

  6. leesha0304 says:

    Great post! Doubt is a huge part of the process (at least for me) in finishing any writing that I do. For years, I would start something that really spoke to me and the convince myself that it was stupid or not a worthwhile project. But eventually, I learned first to live with the doubt and then how to try to ignore it when it rears its ugly little head. But it’s still out there. 😦

    Good luck fighting your own doubt-demons.

    Like

  7. This post has come at a great time for me as I’ve started a new novel whilst still editing previous ones and procrastinating a lot. I live in an area surrounded by rice paddies and the running water everywhere fascinates me. I thought about it today, running water is kind of like perseverance – it keeps going and overcomes obstacles to get to where it needs to. Thanks for a timely and inspiring post! 🙂

    Like

  8. This post has come at a great time for me as I’ve started a new novel whilst still editing previous ones and procrastinating a lot. I live in an area surrounded by rice paddies and the running water everywhere fascinates me. I thought about it today, running water is kind of like perseverance – it keeps going and overcomes obstacles to get to where it needs to. Thanks for a timely and inspiring post! 🙂

    Like

  9. kingmidget says:

    Doubt and perseverance are the evil twins occupying my mind these days. Too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

    Like

  10. kingmidget says:

    Doubt and perseverance are the evil twins occupying my mind these days. Too much of the former and not enough of the latter.

    Like

  11. This really inspired some self-evaluation on my own writing habits. Which is always a good thing!

    Like

  12. This really inspired some self-evaluation on my own writing habits. Which is always a good thing!

    Like

  13. I actually agree with you! Keep going! Said that I always think the opposite, I think it’s easy for everybody but me! I know aready I have to struggle but it’s my dream!

    Like

  14. I actually agree with you! Keep going! Said that I always think the opposite, I think it’s easy for everybody but me! I know aready I have to struggle but it’s my dream!

    Like

  15. aliveatnight says:

    I’ve been beginning an idea that’s sat with me for years. I’ve also scraped the start before, but this time I’m just continuing anyways. Its definitely something you’ve gotta do, because you know what? You can always go back later

    Like

  16. aliveatnight says:

    I’ve been beginning an idea that’s sat with me for years. I’ve also scraped the start before, but this time I’m just continuing anyways. Its definitely something you’ve gotta do, because you know what? You can always go back later

    Like

  17. I agree with the idea that we should finish something before going back to edit it. If you doubt yourself and your writing too much, how could you ever finish something? Sure, the editing process is crucial to moving forward to publishing, but a rough draft needs to come first. The brainstorming process and putting those ideas onto paper are the first steps. After you have enough material, then you can go back and edit. While we don’t want to be over-confident, if we keep editing something that’s not finished, we’ll never get to the end.

    Like

  18. I agree with the idea that we should finish something before going back to edit it. If you doubt yourself and your writing too much, how could you ever finish something? Sure, the editing process is crucial to moving forward to publishing, but a rough draft needs to come first. The brainstorming process and putting those ideas onto paper are the first steps. After you have enough material, then you can go back and edit. While we don’t want to be over-confident, if we keep editing something that’s not finished, we’ll never get to the end.

    Like

  19. Jodie, yours is one of the best blogs I’ve come across. You have a knack of coming up with interesting and inspiring posts. And this one is especially helpful for me, as I’ve been guilty of starting a few things a bit half-heartedly recently and not getting very far before losing interest. My latest project, however, I’m determined to keep going with.

    Like

  20. Jodie, yours is one of the best blogs I’ve come across. You have a knack of coming up with interesting and inspiring posts. And this one is especially helpful for me, as I’ve been guilty of starting a few things a bit half-heartedly recently and not getting very far before losing interest. My latest project, however, I’m determined to keep going with.

    Like

  21. tonekinchloe says:

    the hardest thing about writing is the editing, after pouring out every thought into words, you have to figure out what to trim, when in fact it is all important. I wish you the best and will follow..peace tone

    Like

  22. tonekinchloe says:

    the hardest thing about writing is the editing, after pouring out every thought into words, you have to figure out what to trim, when in fact it is all important. I wish you the best and will follow..peace tone

    Like

  23. iamccsmith says:

    My father told me one of best pieces of advice about writing that ever heard, which is that no matter how successful you are or how much money you make, writing will always be a blue collar job. Writing a novel is a lot of hard work. There aren’t shortcuts. The only way to get it done is to do it.

    Keep at it and good things will come. Best of luck to you!

    Like

  24. iamccsmith says:

    My father told me one of best pieces of advice about writing that ever heard, which is that no matter how successful you are or how much money you make, writing will always be a blue collar job. Writing a novel is a lot of hard work. There aren’t shortcuts. The only way to get it done is to do it.

    Keep at it and good things will come. Best of luck to you!

    Like

  25. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I just put down one of my stories I’ve been working with on and off for about two years, and I restarted a memoir I began January of last year with nothing more than three paragraphs. I have a tendency to “give up” on my stories when I get bored with them or when I’m unsure of where they’re going.

    It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Pushing through, I think, is possibly the hardest part of writing. I go back and edit everything all the time, even unintentionally. I begin rereading what I’ve written and then all of a sudden–BAM. Red everywhere.

    Thanks for the comfort and inspiration. I think I might write that quote on a note card and stick it somewhere I’ll see it every day. Keep going!

    Like

  26. M. Ziegler says:

    I think maybe you’re describing writers block? I think you should always push forward as long as you liked the storyline. That’s not to say, that you don’t think it’s still garbage- but do you love your characters at least? I think writers block happens to everyone though. Best thing I’ve found is to write past it and fix it later – which is what you suggested.

    But- that being said. I will toss a manuscript aside if I get a too much bad feedback until I can figure out the problem. I’ll start something else in the meantime.

    Like

  27. A.D. Everard says:

    I remember finally giving up on a book and throwing it in the bin, only a background character crawled out and came and got me. That book became my first novel published (many years later, I admit).

    Never give up – in fact I’ve just written about not giving up. 🙂

    Like

  28. A.D. Everard says:

    I remember finally giving up on a book and throwing it in the bin, only a background character crawled out and came and got me. That book became my first novel published (many years later, I admit).

    Never give up – in fact I’ve just written about not giving up. 🙂

    Like

  29. rsfdeep says:

    Thanks for leading me to your blog…it’s giving me great insight into book writing challenges. And thank you for following my blog 🙂

    Like

  30. I agree with your disposition and I do think that part of success,is affirming that ‘delusion’,that you will be the exception to the challenges of writing and publishing.

    Like

  31. I agree with your disposition and I do think that part of success,is affirming that ‘delusion’,that you will be the exception to the challenges of writing and publishing.

    Like

  32. Nathan Hartley says:

    Perseverance is key. I totally agree, Nice article Jodie!

    Like

  33. I *like* that it’s hard. It should be hard. It’s a job. Not just the initial writing, but the rounds of revision and, yes, the ego-battering that you have to be able to take. It weeds out people who only think they’re writers from the people who really are writers, and proves that, no, not just everyone can do this.

    Like

  34. I *like* that it’s hard. It should be hard. It’s a job. Not just the initial writing, but the rounds of revision and, yes, the ego-battering that you have to be able to take. It weeds out people who only think they’re writers from the people who really are writers, and proves that, no, not just everyone can do this.

    Like

  35. cheisserer says:

    For every novel I finish, I have ten false starts. After finishing five novels, I have a graveyard of useful plot, characters, setting, themes to resurrect. And lots of practice. I prefer the practice over the product. But not everyone would agree. Heh

    Like

  36. ehbates says:

    What a great quote! For the longest time, I would spend months writing and rewriting the first few chapters of my novels. It wasn’t until I forced myself to persevere to the end that I realized how important it was to have an entire picture laid out before I started hacking at it.

    Like

  37. ehbates says:

    What a great quote! For the longest time, I would spend months writing and rewriting the first few chapters of my novels. It wasn’t until I forced myself to persevere to the end that I realized how important it was to have an entire picture laid out before I started hacking at it.

    Like

  38. I’ve been wandering around in a few craft books (oooh, that’s fancy lingo for “writing for dummies” and “plotting for dummies” and “character arc for dummies” and so on. You get the drift) and the helpful ones say at least two things: It’s hard. And keep it up. Don’t stop. Get vertical and get off the beach!

    So, yes, perseverance is what gets that novel published.

    I suppose the hard thing for me is that I keep doing that bad thing – start over, scrap it, and restart, and so on. However, I am coming to grips with my lack of knowledge on the character archetypes and I think once I understand that, and plot, and um, everything else…

    I’ll write a book.

    Honestly, this is complex. But take a look at this:

    That’s the Maple Leaf rag by Scott Joplin played by someone named Chocotiger(?). It’s not me.
    I’m not a great piano player but I can play that. I don’t sight read. This was something that I eaked out bit by bit. I’d memorize a section and move on to the next.

    Without perseverance, no way I’d be able to play that rag.

    Same deal with the writing. I can put words together in a pleasing way, but it’s the big picture I need to train in. Seek information, and then pursue it. Eventually I’ll have a book. Or two. You can’t seem to market just one book these days– you gotta have a trilogy. 😀

    Like

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