Perseverance – How Long is “Too Long” to Keep Reaching For Your Dream?

perseveranceI sometimes wonder if I’m just a glutton for punishment. My auspicious start to writing wasn’t good. After a very difficult 9th grade honors English teacher, who shall remain forever nameless, insulted me and my skills in a deplorably embarrassing and public manner, I stopped writing until my second year of college. At that point, something happened. Maybe I finally matured or got guts, but I remember the moment I said “I don’t care what that horrible lady thinks” and I wrote my first fantasy novel.

When it was complete, I was so proud of myself. Was it good? Um… no. Was it a little good? Well, probably not. It was my first novel, the first draft, and I really didn’t know a thing about POV, structure, grammar, character development, or well, anything. But, I had the ideas in my head and just decided to get them out. I grabbed onto a great editor and latched myself tight to a wonderful group of writing friends and started to learn the craft. The fact is, it’s been twenty long years learning the craft and trying to get published. But, I persevered and now I can say I just signed my first literary agent. My YA books, FLYING TO THE LIGHT and FLYING TO THE FIRE (which had been with a small pub company first and who folded) are now being represented by Pete Riva from International Transactions.

So, what makes us persevere? What makes us keep putting ourselves out there? What motivates you day in and day out to keep pushing? I’m self motivated to achieve – some compulsive goal oriented personality disorder I’m sure, but what do other authors think? So I asked Bob Nailor and Kevin Rau this very question. (you might find the answers alternately frank and surprisingly funny)

Question #1) WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO KEEP WRITING?

Kevin Rau: An obsessive personality! I’m fortunate that I didn’t also gain a quirk of being compulsive, but my obsessive nature has allowed me to lock onto my H.E.R.O. series and really grow it into something far beyond what even I imagined years ago.

Q #2) What have you learned over the years?

Kevin: That it takes a lot of effort to write, it isn’t fun and games. Giving up so many hours every week to write is hard at times as well, and often we have to choose to sacrifice time with friends and family (or from watching TV, etc.) and it can be rough. Advertising/promotion is just plain not enjoyable for me, and it takes away from the time writing/editing. Overall, though, I’ve learned that if we put in the time (and a lot of it), we can accomplish things.

Q #1) What Motivates You to Keep Writing?

Bob Nailor: Back in college Psych class we were taught about strokes. Good stroke aka praise.
Bad stroke aka punishment. We learned that everyone wants to receive a stroke, whether it be good or bad. No stroke was equivalent to being ignored and not acceptable. We are humans and we want acceptance. So, we would rather receive a bad stroke in place of no stroke. For me, motivation is reaching that next goal whether it be through praise – good stroking, or via criticism – bad stroking. If I am praised, I am ramped and ready to move forward. If I am criticized, I know I must work harder and better. Without either, I struggle, lost with no goal. So, I must reach that next step, that goal, no matter what stroke.

Q #2) What have you learned over the years?

Bob: Blame the publisher for any punctuation, grammatical, fact, spelling etc. errors found in your work after it is published. No matter how hard you try, there will be flaws in the story.  Get over yourself and get writing the next project. Oh! And no matter what you do — submit! Repeatedly.

So there you have it. A writer is at their core goal-oriented and self motivated. You have to be or why would you take the sheer amount of hours out of your day to do this, or the risk of negative criticism, if you didn’t love it?

I want to thank Bob and Kevin for sharing some of their thoughts and experiences with me. To learn more about them (whose books I have read and are amazing) please check them out here:

Kevin Rau is the author of the massive 13-book (1.2 million word) H.E.R.O. series of superhero novels. The first ebook in the series is provided free at most major ebook vendors. Links can be found at http://www.kevinrau.com/books.asp. You can also reach him at his author page at http://www.facebook.com/herobooks

Bob Nailor is an author of several books. His writing genre is somewhat non-specific with science fiction, fantasy, and horror but he also delves into romance, adventure, thriller, action, mystery and now Christian. He loves to write, cook, travel and enjoys the opportunities of doing conference and workshop sessions where he can interact with other writers. Visit him at http://www.bobnailor.com or follow him on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/bobnailor

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28 thoughts on “Perseverance – How Long is “Too Long” to Keep Reaching For Your Dream?

  1. I’ve been writing with an eye on publishing it since 1990 and your article inspires me. I mean, I could never give it up but there are times when I wonder if just doing the “normal career goal” isn’t the easier and less annoying way to go. However, I could never quit it because I just wouldn’t get the same satisfaction than when I finish a story.

      • You’re welcome, Elyse. I also have a day job and it covers most of my day to day expenses but it gives me opportunities to write as well. I would write whether or not I ever get published because I’m writing what I most like to read and that by itself makes the sacrifices worth it.

  2. @Wallace: I love that line “…I’m writing what I most like to read…” For me, that is what writing is about. I write what interests me and hope somebody else enjoys it, too. Keep writing.

  3. Great post. I have been writing all my life and, even though I haven’t been very successful and I don’t think I will ever get a publishing contract, I am happy because I manage to do what I love the most: write, write, and write.

  4. Congrats on landing an agent Elyse! Writing, like most art, has to be something we love doing. Plunking a dollar down on a Powerball ticket every week has about the same chance of financial success! So, write because you love it — that feeling of accomplishment feeds the soul 🙂

    • You’re so right – I’ll be honest, I have a little teeny pipe-dream that I store deep in my mind, hoping for major success, but you’re right, it’s like winning powerball. I write because I just have to get these ideas out when they come. Thank you for commenting.

  5. I’ve always written. In fact, one of my poems was published in my school newspaper–when I was in elementary school. I continued to write–mainly for my own enjoyment. Then in 2009 I self-published a (local) best-selling cozy mystery. After that success, I promised myself that I would pursue traditional publication. I’d been published in literary journals but I wanted a book. I reached this goal in 2011. I enjoy every aspect of this game we call writing: plotting, writing, revisions, submitting, marketing. Basely the more I write the more I want to write.

  6. Loved this and glad I found you through #MondayBlogs. Firstly, congrats on the agent! So exciting! Secondly, I completely identify on feeling “ignored;” it has to be the worst. I’ve got subscribers to the blog, I know, but are they engaging with me? Sometimes I go weeks without a comment and then am slammed and I can’t seem to find a thread ~ I’ve tried. So I just keep plugging along, writing what interests me, and hoping more people will care. Love the illustration you’ve used here too. So sad that the bottom guy is turning around when he is almost there – but it answers your title question – as long as there is life in you – run hard after your dream.

    • Felecia, it can be frustrating finding folks to read our blogs – I think we just need to keep plugging away in all aspects and let things just happen. There’s just so much we can do – all we can do is motivate ourselves, you know? Thanks so much for responding. 🙂

  7. Wow, can I relate to Kevin on the sacrifice we make… I’ve missed so much being sequestered behind my big computer screen… but it is fulfilling and rewarding, and oh so gratifying. Great post! XO

  8. It is true, the amount of discipline and perseverance required to make something of a writing career is unmatched! I applaud my fellow writers who continue to put out great work and continue to inspire me! It’s astonishing, really!

  9. Excellent post. I can’t even tell you how many people I meet who tell me they always wanted to be a writer or plan to write a book *someday*. I encourage them to just start. But, frankly, I can commiserate. I thought about writing for over twenty years until I finally decided to just start. Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula was the result.

    • Thanks Elise, I think that’s the real difference – the moment you commit to finishing the project and it changes from an “I wish I could do it” to “I’m going to finish the book.” You have to have perseverance and committment to finish writing a book from start to finish.

  10. Congrats on getting the literary agent, Elyse. It takes a lot of support and persistence to keep writing. I’ve learned a tremendous stubborn streak doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

  11. Elyse, Awesome post. Enjoyed and related to it very much. It makes it hard when you wear your heart on your sleeve too. For me it isn’t just an old teacher but how hurtful some reviewers and readers can be. At those times, I try to remember why I write and those people who have told me how much they enjoy my books.
    Thanks for the post.

    • I liken writing to artwork – it’s subjective – some folks will like my work, some won’t. At some point we just have to thicken our skin and let it go, you know? Thanks for reading!

  12. Pingback: So Here’s What Happened This Week (June 28, 2013) « Wannabe Pride

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