Friday, March 22, 2013

Persistence in Five Steps

“Someday I’m going to write a book.”

Occasionally I hear people with a lot of writing talent who don’t write regularly, say this, and I think to myself, well, you better get started! From what I’ve heard and seen and experienced, it takes the average writer ten years from the time they start writing regularly until they sell a book. And there are no guarantees. If I had known this when I started writing ten years ago, I wonder if I would’ve ever begun, but if there's one thing I have it's persistence. 

They say your first 1, 000, 000 words are just practice. But what about those writers who sell their first book in a year or less? Those are rare exceptions. Even five years is a relatively short time to publish a book after beginning to write on a daily basis. I’ve seen a lot of talented writers start and stop after so many years and so much rejection when they didn’t get published. I’ve seen other writers keep going pounding out a certain amount of words every day, year after year, until, one day, they accomplish their dreams.

Persistence is the key. Even wildly successful writers typically receive a lot of rejections before they get their first big break. Success is ten percent talent, and ninety percent persistence. That’s my motto. So, if you’ve always wanted to write a book, but haven’t started yet, there’s no time like the present. If you’ve been writing for years and haven’t published a book yet, keep going. You’re getting closer.

5 tips for being persistent:

  1. Set a time every day to write. Five or six days a week. Pick a time that works best for you. It could be early in the morning, late at night, or in the middle of the day like me when all my kids are in school.
  2. Pick a certain amount of time or a certain amount of words to write each day and try to stick to it as closely as possible. I write one to two hours a day. Depending on your schedule you may write more or less. You may have to sacrifice something (television, cleaning, shopping, talking on the phone, surfing the net, etc, to find the time).
  3. Create some rituals to help you get in the right frame of mind to write. Light a candle. Listen to music. Eat M&M’s.
  4. Pick a favorite place to write where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. A quiet room in our house. Or go to the library or a bookstore or a coffee shop, etc. One writer I know turned a closet into her writing space by adding a daybed.
  5. Submit your story. Once your work is revised, critiqued, and polished, send it out and keep sending it out, revising it as needed until you get an acceptance! In the mean time, get to work on your next book.


  1. Truer words. Those people sometimes irritate me because they're usually the ones who think they can just throw something on paper and publish it the next day.

    It's a learning curve.


  2. Yep. Just like everything else, it takes years of time and effort to get good at writing and to learn to write a novel.

  3. I hadn't heard the 10 year thing, but it sounds just about right. I'm on year 5. It took me to year 4 to get an agent. I wonder if that means it'll take me until year 7 or 8 to get a contract!

    The good news is, I'm a much better writer than I was 5 years ago. And I'm even better than I was a year ago. So by the time I hit 10 years, I'll be killing it (or, you know, getting closer to killing it)!

  4. Good for you for getting an agent. You're well on your way and will most likely sell a book sooner than the average writer!

  5. It's true - the writing journey changes over the years. First it's about actually starting and finishing a book, then comes the need for more and more persistence, over years and years, to find a publisher and to keep writing.

  6. That's right. I'm in that latter category.