per·se·vere, /pərsəˈvir/ verb – To continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.
As writers we’ve all heard about the need for perseverance in our quest for success, right? Which I’m sure for many conjures images of writing away, day after day. Or perhaps it conveys doggedly submitting one’s work again and again, enduring rejection after rejection. Those are the two ways I used to think of it. Just keep going and eventually you’ll get there.
But at some point that way of perceiving it begs the questions: Keep going at what? And you’ll get where?
I clearly needed to broaden my understanding of what it means to persevere. And I had to come to a new level of acceptance. Let’s take a closer look at what can seem like an ominous word, shall we?
Broadening the ‘At What?’ of Persevering—You’ve Got To Change To Grow
After I finished a draft of my first manuscript, I spent about a year doing little more than shuffling words and commas. I simply didn’t know any better. I kept “editing” my work, then asking for feedback, and getting about the same results (mostly unfavorable). My mentality was one of just keep going, rather than to adapt and grow.
You’ve probably heard Einstein’s definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. Without commenting on my sanity, I’ll admit I resisted accepting that I needed to change—not just what was on the page, but in some cases my entire approach. Change is difficult. But the word difficulty is right there in the definition of perseverance. And though the word change might seem to contradict the phrase continue in a course of action, I believe change, or at least adaptability, is essential to maintaining any worthy pursuit. And that the ability to maintain a pursuit is essential to growth.
Broadening the ‘To Where?’ of Persevering—There Is No Finish Line
That same newbie that shuffled words and commas also presumed that the reason for persevering was to get published. And, once published, all would proceed in due course. I not only imagined a finish line, but that once I was past it there would no longer be any pressure or doubt involved. [Read more…]