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I'm Kate Risheill. Welcome to my blog on writing.

Lessons from NaNoWriMo: Persistence Pays

Photo by  Roman Bozhko  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

NaNoWriMo is an exhilarating and exhausting experience. Writing 50,000 words in one month requires a copious amount of coffee, a lot of snacks, and persistence. To use the most clichéd of metaphors, writing is a marathon, not a sprint. We've all heard it before. Anybody can start a story, but if you want to be a writer, you have to finish things. This is, of course, true, but it is also not quite as simple as that. 

Writing, as with many creative pursuits, requires you to have a bit of grit. Grit is a concept that entrepreneurs are absolutely obsessed with. Angela Duckworth wrote an entire book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, on the subject and it is one that is frequently discussed among people trying to launch their own businesses and side hustles. And for damn good reason. If you haven't seen her TED talk, I recommend you take a look at it here

Grit doesn't necessarily guarantee success, but the term, at least by Duckworth's definition, encompasses the kind of long-term stamina and persistence that often does pay dividends. We hear stories all the time about writers who were rejected by publisher after publisher, until someone finally decided to give them a shot. They had the persistence, the grit, to keep going.

However, grit is about more than just sheer stick-to-it-ness. Duckworth proposes that talent x effort = skill and that skill x effort = achievement. In other words, your effort counts twice. This is a simplification of Duckworth's book, but the takeaway is that we can work towards improving our skill and achieving what we want to. 

I think, as Duckworth's formula would suggest, that effort and persistence are more important than talent when it comes to writing. If you have the drive to keep writing, keep editing, keep trying to get your work published, I think it will happen for you eventually. There are definitely much better writers out there than me, but not every writer has the persistence to finish their story, to go through rounds of edits, to query agents and push for publication. Beyond that, I think having the grit to keep writing, to keep trying, will result in better writing. 

In the months since NaNoWriMo, I can see changes in my writing process and the kind of writing I produce. It can be easy to get overwhelmed, to feel that you aren't good enough, that your writing isn't good enough. Persist. Keep working with passion and focus and you will improve, you will reach your goals. It's about grit, people. 

Lessons from NaNoWriMo: Moving Forward

Lessons from NaNoWriMo: Planning