Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Persperistence Redux

This week, I read a post from David Farland's Kaily Kick in the Pants that made my Persperistence antennae stand at attention. Here's an extract to wet your whistle.
"For most people, writing at all is hard. Most people don’t even discover what natural talents they have until they’ve written for a million words or more.

So forget about talent for a bit. Too many people born with a specific talent for writing will lean on it so much, they never develop the rest of the skills that they need to become master storytellers. As a new writer, I looked around at the most talented beginners, and used to wonder which would be my biggest competition later in life. Guess what? They all gave up long ago. Many of them never wrote more than one award-winning novel.

You’ll go much further in writing if you learn writing skills. Thomas Edison put it this way: “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” Learning a craft takes diligence, hard work, effort, and time."
My own experience supports this assertion. For too many years, I dwelled in the land of revision, unwilling to move on to the next work until I had sold the current one to a Major Market. I wasn't writing every day, or even every week, and I wasn't moving on to new material on a regular basis. Since I joined Write 1 Sub 1, I have been writing every week, submitting every week, revising as required, and it has made a world of difference. I just received my 100th acceptance. Granted, I'm not selling to Major Markets for the most part, but I am producing work that is professional and varied, and I am no longer struggling to "find my voice" because it has found me. To perfect one's craft, one needs practice and training. Talent is a nice spice, but not a great main course.

I hope you'll take a moment to share in the comments what Write 1 Sub 1 has or has not done to help your own process.

14 comments:

  1. So inspiring. Congratulations on the 100 acceptances. I hope you are celebrating.

    I'm a professional painter and after 25 years feel a confidence that I didn't in the beginning. Most of my student colleagues quit years ago. ... My wannabe writer is submerging, submitting is going to be a big challenge but my skin is thick. Sniff. I think W1S1 is a fantastic chance

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    1. Thanks Angie. That describes it very well. Here's to a great 2013 with us.

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  2. Writing every day is the key; we can't help but improve with more practice. I don't know if I've passed a million words yet, but I know some of my best work has come out of W1S1, and I'm grateful for this community of writers seeking to hone our craft.

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    1. Just the words "a million words" is exciting to me. :) I'm so glad I joined this community.

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    2. We're certainly grateful that you came up with the idea, Milo. And it's a thrill to watch you coming into your powers as a writer.

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  3. One-hundred acceptances!!! That is awesome, and inspiring.

    I LOVED this part: "Granted, I'm not selling to Major Markets for the most part, but I am producing work that is professional and varied, and I am no longer struggling to "find my voice" because it has found me. To perfect one's craft, one needs practice and training. Talent is a nice spice, but not a great main course." The act of writing AND completing a piece has made a huge difference for me. Submitting forces me to finish what I start AND move on to the next story. I want my stories to find homes and readers; major markets are no long important to me. If I make it into one, great; but the readers at the smaller magazines are just as important as the ones at the major markets.

    None of my pieces ever felt "good enough" so I would tweak them and tweak them and never send them off. Now, I accept that they are "good enough." I feel confident that next year's "good enough" will be better than this year's.

    Thank you for putting into words something that I've been feeling for a while. :)

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    1. Thanks Von. That's a great way of putting it.

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  4. Great stuff, Steve. When you say that you are no longer struggling to find your voice because it has found you, I see that as the confidence in writing that many writers/editors/publishers are searching for. Keep with it. I feel I'm real close, but maybe not quite yet.
    Cheers to your 100 acceptances.

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    1. Thanks Erin. Yes, it's definitely confidence at some point. I feel like I struggled to understand story for a long while, then to develop the necessary tools, and now it's mainly a struggle to find an interesting way to convey what I think and feel and "see". I doubt it ever stops being a struggle, but we do make progress as long as we practice persperistence.

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  5. so true; you don't just become an Olympic swimmer or rower overnight. It took practice and dedication. Becoming a writer is the same - at least that's what I tell myself.

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    1. That makes perfect sense. It's easy to get fixated on the prevalent idea that the creative "arts" are magical, rather than mainly hard work and persistence with a touch of true vision.

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  6. My years participating in the W1S1 challenge have actually been some of my slowest writing-wise. But they were my busiest submission-wise. And the dedication to working a story through every market I could find until it found a home taught me how to take my ego out of the submission process.

    If I hadn't learned how to do that (separate my identity as a writer from the act of being turned down repeatedly) I would still be angsting over whether or not I should be querying my novel; I would still be staring at a hard drive full of stories that I wrote but never made a serious attempt to sell.

    W1S1 taught me that rejections don't make me a failure: not trying does.

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    1. That is such an important point. Thanks, A.G.

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  7. The idea that I need to finish the story the best I can and stop endlessly, fruitlessly rewriting and just send the work out into the world - this is a huge turning point for me. Keep writing and moving forward. It is freeing.

    W1S1 gives me a great framework for putting this into practice.

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