Writing

Perseverance

This Topic is inspired by my husband, who—just today—confirmed his receipt of a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois.

In May of 2006, my husband started graduate school at U of I. The decision to start was not an easy one to make. He’d never enjoyed school; sitting at a desk made him twitchy. He preferred working outside. But he also knew his Bachelor’s in Biology wouldn’t ensure the type of good permanent job he sought. He wanted to support me and our son, who was only nine months old at the time.

We knew he’d be busy during grad school. We knew money would be tight. We knew all the sacrifices involved … and the eventual rewards. We decided that the advantages of a Master’s degree would outweigh the sacrifices needed to obtain it.

It was even harder than we’d imagined. Due to circumstances beyond his control, his pursuit of the degree took three years instead of two. His research project suffered numerous setbacks. He fought for every word of his thesis. Meeting the final deadline came down to the wire. In short, we haven’t felt completely stress-free in over three years.

But now he is graduating from U of I. He’ll receive his Master’s degree. He’s achieving a goal, a goal he focused on every day since May of 2006. He never took his eyes off that goal.

We could all learn a lesson from such perseverance.

As writers, one of our biggest enemies is time. We don’t have time to write. We don’t have time to read and improve our craft. We don’t have time to network.

But that’s not exactly true, is it? We have time until the day we die. What we really lack is patience and dedication. My husband worked for three years to get his Master’s. Are you willing to spend three years to become a published author?

Motivation plays a large role, of course. My husband was motivated by outer forces:  college guidelines, his committee, his desire to support his family, etc. If you’re an unpublished writer, you’re not yet motivated by an editor. You have no deadline to meet, no readers to please. Maybe your friends and family are encouraging you … maybe not. In the end, it all comes down to YOU. That novel won’t get finished unless YOU decide to do it.

If you’re wondering, “How can I possibly motivate myself? I feel like a failure/fraud/amateur?” The answer: you trick your brain.

Five Ways to Persevere:

1. Pick one goal and frame it. We all have multiple goals. Choose the one that is currently most vital. You might progress from “Finish my novel” to “Revise my novel” to “Find an agent” to “Sell my book.” But don’t waste brain power looking ahead to those future goals. For now, write your one main goal and hang it up where you’ll see it everyday. Chisel it into your brain. You’ll want to achieve that goal for the pure pleasure of ripping down the stupid sign.

2. Form your own fan club. Production is so much easier when you’re not the sole employee. Hire Ask your friends and family to be your cheerleaders. Have them send subliminal messages to your brain. Believe me, you’ll need all the help you can get.

3. Patience is a virtue. Resign yourself to the fact that achieving this goal will take a lot of time and a lot of work. Make no delusions. Brain responds to trickery, not to repeated lies.

4. We are creatures of habit. If you write at the same time everyday, brain will stop arguing with you. Brain craves the habit and itches to complete it. Schedule a different time for reading, and maybe one day of the week for networking/learning/researching.

5. Practice makes almost perfect. Don’t rush to achieve all your goals immediately. One of the biggest mistakes is querying agents as soon as the first draft is finished. What happened to the second draft, or the third, or the fourth? Make your first impression count—don’t query until the story is as perfect as you can make it (with the help of critique partners and test readers). Slow and steady wins the race … and I’ll stop listing cliches now.

Find what works for you and stick with it. And yes, you will face setbacks and adversities. Expect them. Embrace them. Conquer them. Your victory will be that much sweeter.

Now it’s your turn to persevere. Tell me your current goal and how you plan to achieve it! Good luck!!

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18 thoughts on “Perseverance

  1. That was a great motivational speech!!! Congrats to Jeff for being able to pull down THAT DAMN SIGN!

    My first and most important goal is to finish the first draft of my novel. I’m giving myself until August 31st to do that. My word count is currently at 74,874 and I probably need another 45,126 words to finish. 1368 words a day for the next 33 days!!!

    Thanks for the kick in the rear and for being on own personal cheerleader.

    Oh, by the way, don’t think I don’t know who you’re talking about when you say:
    “As writers, one of our biggest enemies is time. We don’t have time to write. We don’t have time to read and improve our craft. We don’t have time to network.”

  2. Okay, you get a prize for being the first to announce a goal! I’ll be mailing it to you shortly! 😉 I love your goal!! Although I had to laugh at how detailed it is (45, 126 words to finish?? 45, 125 won’t suffice? LOL, just kidding!). You are AWESOME for setting this goal—I am so proud of you!!

    “We don’t have time to write …” I was obviously talking about myself!! Wasn’t I just saying that the other day? 😉 Seriously though, everyone says that at some point. We like our excuses, whether they’re valid or not.

    Thanks so much for your comment—and I’ll pass on your congrats! Love ya!!

    • Hey…I used a calculator, kay? 120,000 minus 74,874. As soon as I hit that 120,000 word mark I’m stopping. Even if I am in mid-sentence 😛

      I get a prize??!!! WOOO! I love getting things in the mail 😀 Will it be a sign?

      Love ya too!

      • DUDE, I will not be happy if you send me a story that cuts off in mid-sentence. ROFL! Speaking of your story … I want it! Can you send me the first couple chapters, just to soothe my withdrawal?? *puppy dog eyes*

        I have an idea for your prize … but I can also send a sign if you want. 😀

      • For some reason I can’t reply to your final message. Mmmph *pouts and stomps*

        You want more chapters…?? Is that really a good idea? I mean…shouldn’t you just read it all together???

        *snickers*

        *evil laugh*

        Does this sound at all familiar? MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! The tables have turned!

        I would prefer only a sign. Oh, and I made a video of the lower mainland…I gotta upload it and make a DVD to include with your music care package.

  3. Hello Erin:

    How wonderful that your husband was able to maintain his focus over those years to obtain his master’s degree…..congratulations to him!

    Yes, it is definitely a lesson we can (and should) all learn…that it is entirely up to each one of us to make the time to follow our dream. Maintaining the motivation and perseverance to do that is the difficult part; believing in ourselves, today and tomorrow and three years from now if that is what it takes, is also difficult.

    But, as your husband discovered, it can be done.

    As well, I am certain that your support played an enormous part in his success. I, too, have been on the receiving end of your wonderful and generous support……thank you Erin.

    Ann Benedek (Canada)

    • *blushes* Ann, you are too sweet! *sends hugs to Canada* I don’t deserve any credit, for you or my husband. I’m merely part of the fan clubs!

      You’re right—maintaining motivation, perseverance, and self-confidence can be so difficult, some days more than others. But we MUST maintain all of these things if we have any hope of success.

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Ann. Email me soon with an update on your story! 🙂

      • Amen to that. Would I become amazing if I moved to Canada?

        I don’t know why WordPress won’t allow more replies. They have a limit?? I’ve never had to deal with this issue before, LOL.

        Yes, the tables have turned. 😛 Now I know how you felt when you wanted my chapters … and you know how I felt when I hesitated! I don’t think either one of us can change though, despite our new knowledge!

        SWEET—Canada footage!! I will show it to Jeff and convince him to move there even without a job, LOL.

  4. Well……thanks for your ‘hugs’ Erin, much appreciated! I would have to say it seems there’s some rather lovely people in the States too…….plus, you already seem to be pretty amazing, Erin, without coming to Canada! But, if ever you should visit, it would be lovely to meet!

    I will endeavour to send an email update re. my story sometime in the near future.

    Bye the way, may I ask who Syd Gill is, and send thanks for comments re. ‘amazing people’ from Canada?

    Cheers,
    Ann

    • Awww, you’re making me blush AGAIN! 😀 Syd, who hails from British Columbia, is my critique partner and best friend. As I type this, she is probably working on her plan to get me and my family to move to Canada! Which I would not object to, since we’ve already established how amazing Canadians are. 😀 Ann, I don’t remember (if I ever knew) where in Canada you live. Don’t post anything detailed of course, but maybe a province?

      Can’t wait to hear your story update! Keep writing!!

  5. Thanks for letting me know that Syd is a fellow Canadian….and from British Columbia! I adore BC…..I have relatives living on Vancouver Island (Sooke) and have long wanted to move to Vancouver Island…..unfortunately, the universe had other ideas……

    As for me, I live in Ontario but my heart is in my birthplace, the Midlands of England (or practically anywhere in Britain, for that matter….)

    Notice you have a new post, so I’m off to read it!

    With warm regards,
    Ann

    • Syd, did you hear that?? Ann adores BC! Why don’t we all move to BC and be happy and amazing together. 😀

      Ann, I visited Ontario once, in 8th grade! Southern Ontario, near Dryden, I think. Are you close to the border, or farther north?

      Thanks for reading! Cheers!

    • LOL! Ann is a fellow YA fantasy writer! She stumbled upon my site awhile back, and we’ve been corresponding via email. As you can probably tell from her comments, she’s such a sweetheart!

  6. “Amen to that. Would I become amazing if I moved to Canada?

    I don’t know why WordPress won’t allow more replies. They have a limit?? I’ve never had to deal with this issue before, LOL.

    Yes, the tables have turned. 😛 Now I know how you felt when you wanted my chapters … and you know how I felt when I hesitated! I don’t think either one of us can change though, despite our new knowledge!

    SWEET—Canada footage!! I will show it to Jeff and convince him to move there even without a job, LOL.”

    I think you should check your reply settings somewhere…unless it’s a template issue, in which case you should let me give you your birthday present.

    I still want to give you the chapters, but they really suck. I’d have to go back and do some editing, which I probably shouldn’t do. I’ll let you know.

    Haven’t had a chance to upload the BC footage but I’m sure it’s hilarious…we were giddy with the prospect of you seeing are Academy Award winning video and then immediately packing all your belongings and trucking it over. *smooths sheets* I have your guys’ bed all made up.

    • ROFL! Next I’ll be sending you an Oscar for Best Documentary. What type of sheets are on the bed?? 😀

      You are absolutely not allowed to edit. If you can’t send the chapters without editing, then don’t worry about it. I kinda had another reason for wanting them … related to YOUR birthday present. But I’ll think of something else, or just wait a month or so until you are ready to send them. 😀

      I’ll check the WordPress settings. You’re also NOT ALLOWED to give me my birthday present. I won’t even CONSIDER it until you finish writing and editing your novel. I know, I’m evil. 😀

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