February 4th, 2009

spring

Persistence

Jay Lake has an excellent post about writing and persistence.

He mentions persistence as a key trait for a writer. And that's the thing. Writing is work. We love the idea of a muse because we'd all like it to be that effortless, a channeling of the Divine onto the page. Only in the rarest, sweetest moments do we experience that frenzied, blissful flow.

But most of the time we sit there and stare at the screen. Or the page. Or the wall.

Persistence is crucial in a way that (I'm going to say it) talent isn't, when it comes down to the simple criteria: get published = success. Talent helps. It may open doors that will never open otherwise. But you know all the times you pick up a book and think, "I could write this crap"? That crap is being written by persistent people. People who kept sending stories out, kept watching for opportunities, who took a rejection, sometimes several in the same day, and sent that stuff right back out.

Because here's one of the simpler formulas: the more you write, the better you get at it. It's a fine thing to perceive, and the gloss, the polish, the depth writing gains as the author gets better is a result of that persistence, that mania, that willingness to keep exploring the craft each and every day.


Now I have pontificated for the day. I'm a-gonna go wrestle with my novel some more.