Monday, August 15, 2011

Persistence Pays Off

Sometimes between rewriting your nth draft or receiving your next rejection letter it can feel difficult to continue persevering. Hours and hours before a computer screen, paper and electronic submissions, and expensive conferences all add up and take their toll. So how on earth is a writer supposed to keep going?

I've had a slightly persistent attitude I've employed since my undergrad days when I came up with a little namesake to keep me going, but also to keep me from ever getting too serious when I felt bogged down. I called myself “the Rash” because no matter the odds I refused to go away until accomplishing my goal. I applied this strategy when trying to add new classes when the professor already said their room was full, asked questions in class no matter whether I thought it made me look stupid or not, and I spent enough time in the library that I'm sure my name certainly came up like a rash on the school checkout computers.

I continue to use this odd little euphemism when persisting with my writing endeavors and to make myself laugh when the serious business of the literary industry weighs me down. So what little tricks do you do in order to keep going? Any little mantras, mind games, or quirky outlooks that help you continue with your writing when times get tough?    


  1. unusual idea, Mark. Whenever the writing or the publishing journey bogs me down, I listen to music and look at my earlier books and tell myself that if I can do it once, I can do it again.

  2. LOL, a rash! I love it. Nice to "meet" you here in the blogosphere, Mark, and thanks for visiting and following my blog too! Always great to know more fellow writers. :)

  3. A rash, I like it. My Mantra (Which you may already know) is Keep Moving Forward. I just tell myself that whenever it feels like I've failed again (which happens quite often) I just pick myself back on and move forward because the only other option is giving up and I can't let myself be a quitter.

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog.
    Whatever keeps you going is important, especially when you can wallpaper your writing room with rejection slips.
    Just don't do anything rash in the process. OK?

  5. Rash? Lol. That's better than a few other ailments I can think of that won't go away without strong antibiotics.

    It's really easy to get discouraged, but the people who know how to deal with it and keep going anyway are the ones who seem to succeed. I'm sure we'll be reading about your publishing deal soon, if you keep your rash attitude. :)

  6. Huh...can I call you that from now on? Rash. :) That actually has a nice ring to it. Years from now as your sitting at a book signing it'll come up. Be ready to explain yourself. I might be sitting in the audience.

  7. Ha! I like it.

    I can't claim that level of persistence with most things, though I can with nth drafts and hours and hours at computer screens.

    So I'll try out the rash thing for a while...

  8. Rash--I like it, too. :)

    When I'm feeling down on my writing I usually tell myself something along the lines of "you don't get anywhere if you don't try".

  9. Now THAT'S a nickname!

    I agree. Keep going. Never stop.

  10. Rash is unique! I'm a perfectionist, so I'll keep going until I feel something is darn near perfect no matter what.

  11. lol Love it :D My two mantras are "fake it till you make it" and "just suck it up and do it" - both are aimed at making me get over myself and do what I want to do LOL

  12. AH haaaa! That's awesome.

    Every time something gets me down, I'll think of a rash. (or the scars left over from one)

  13. I learned time doesn’t matter… I’ll get the sometime, but when? It is not a concern.
    Instead I focus on learning, growing, sharing and most of all writing!

    The pressure we put on ourselves is the problem—just relax and enjoy what you do—the rest will work itself out.

    I am finally in the writing spectrum, that I have been striving for, and it only came after I let the expectations, stress, deadlines, comparisons… go.

    Sure I’ll struggle, but I’ll be better today than I was yesterday… and I’ll be a lot better when I am done than I was when I started!

    If you embrace growth over production, if you strive for clarity over finishing… then you’re on the right path!

    Good luck to all.

  14. lol, you know you can get a lotion for that... ;)

    To keep going, hmm. I gave up once and regretted it. So now, when I have thoughts of giving up again I remember my regret and keep going.

  15. Rachna – Music and books, that's def a killer combo:)

    Carol – Nice to “meet” you as well. Writer/readers always welcome!

    J.A. - Keeping Moving Forwards indeed. I agree that at a certain point quitting isn't really an option:)

    Rob-bear – Yup, I think Steven King used to tack his rejection letters on the wall through a railroad spike. And yes, I won't do anything too rash;)

    L.G. - Glad that you enjoyed my analogy. Thanks for the encouragement:)

    Laila – Sure, you can call me whatever you wish, but remember...I'm just as likely to show up at your book signing someday, so turnabout is fair play:)

    Hektor – Glad to hear it! You go be all the “rash” you can be:)

    Eagle – Indeed, trying is essential. Although that bring Yoda into my mind, i.e. “there is no try”...but if you're a doer than I suppose it's the same thing;)

    David – Thanks! All very good advice.

    Alex – Yup, I'm much the same, which means I often completely rewrite my books from scratch several times.

    Michelle – Great mantras! Sounds like you have a drill sergeant keeping you going...well done:)

    Barbara – Glad you liked it. Hopefully no scars though;)

    Jeff – Very, very poignant advice. Thanks for stripping it down to the essentials. I will follow your words to the letter:)

    Lynda – Lotion indeed;) You've a very good point, better to have no regrets at all!

  16. If you don't query, they can't reject you. :D

    Yeah, I know. It doesn't do much for the goal of being published.

  17. I'm the queen of distractions, so when some aspect is getting me down, I switch to a different MS, research, or some other part of the total job of being a writer these days.

    I like your RASH idea, though. :)

  18. I love that. RASH. I just have to remind myself why I'm doing this. Even if all I ever do is get my stories (which I love) to the best they can be and go to Kinkos and have a couple of copies printed, I'll be fine. I will have enjoyed the process.

  19. Hey, Rash (I had to). I was such an over-achiever in school that I can't allow myself not to be for own endeavors, or at least that what I tell myself. I like your blog too, nice vibe.

    <3 Follower #130, woot.

  20. Stina - True, although I think eventually querying is a good idea;)

    Susan - Distractions are definitely a concern, that's why I always make sure to be working on one project or another as well.

    Donna - Glad you like the name:) You have a point...there's something satisfying about seeing one's work in print, even if it's from Kinkos:)

    Kelly - Thanks for visiting! Woot indeed:)

  21. You have no idea how much I needed this today! I'm feeling pretty discouraged right about now and I'm trying to get out from under it. You know one good way to get through it? Talk to other writers, visit their blogs, etc. It works for me. Hopefully this time, too. ;-p

  22. I think persistence is key, as you said. The word "rash" is perfect.

  23. Hey, whatever works, right? When I'm in the middle of a story, I just want to know how it ends, so that keeps me going. When I'm revising, I just want to make it the best it can be. And when I'm submitting, I want to share my work with the world and get paid for it -- even if it's just a token amount.

  24. Well, a lot of times I remind myself of my grandparents and parents -- and the astounding amount of work they were capable of doing day in and day out. Even when they lost all their savings in the 1929 stock market crash, they just started in again until they could buy several apt buildings.(thanks for your comment on their wedding photo at my blog). Keep your "eyes on the prize"was the mantra in the civil rights movement. I like that too.