Motivational Monday

One of the things I learned quickly after being diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia is that I had two choices: I could break down and give up or I could keep moving forward, however slow it had to go at times. Don’t get me wrong–there are times I felt (feel) broken, or frustrated, or angry, but I’m not giving up. 

The same applies to writing. And, well, to all things life. 

The only way we will reach our goals and dreams is by not giving up when life throws us challenges. No matter how large those challenges are, we can’t quit. We can slow down and take a breather, but: 

  
In fact, we should channel those obstacles and let them mold us, strengthen us. 

 
And then there’s this thought: 
Rejection and challenges sometimes knock the wind out of us. They leave us battered and wounded. And sometimes, the temptation to quit is very strong. Don’t let it win. “They” say the wall is there to see how much you want whatever is on the other side. If you quit, you’ll never know, you’ll never reach it. 

Similarly:

 
Time improves our craft. It’s human nature to be impatient. My son, who is 8, often gets frustrated and gives up because something is too hard or is taking too long. I’m trying to teach him to keep at it until he gets it write, until he succeeds. For writing, time is our friend. I am a much better writer than I was one, five, ten years ago.

So keep on keeping on. 

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Motivational Monday

I’m a sucker for quotes. They’re great to plaster above my writing desk or to pin in my Pinterest to remind me, on the tough days, that everything is possible, that all I need to make it is “hope, trust, and pixie dust”–and a whole heap of work. One of my all-time favorite–and one I have on the back of my business cards–is by Walt Disney:

AllOurDreams_Disney

I believe this with all the fiber of my being. It doesn’t mean our dreams will come quickly. Or easily. Or exactly the way we imagine them. It doesn’t mean that you can’t take breaks because of certain life events and challenges. But it does mean that if we dream something, work hard, and keep trying, never giving up, then the chances are for us that we’ll succeed.

There are gazillion articles out there that quantify this. Like this one.

FamousPplRejections

But part of this journey involves failure. It’s natural, and I’m convinced we appreciate our successes that much more because of the times we’ve failed. With each attempt that hasn’t worked, we’ve learned and grown and stepped closer to our goal. Remember:

A Professional Writer

So don’t quit. Keep on keeping on. I know you can do it.

The art of working hard

Our culture seems to have an aversion to working hard. Everywhere I turn, there’s a clamor for instant gratification. Forget sweating, forget busting our behinds. We have a dream. We have a vision. This is what we’re MEANT to do. But we don’t want to wait. We don’t want to do the dirty work. We don’t want to put in our time and effort to get there. We want it, and we want it NOW. And we want it easily.

Reminds me of a toddler cranking up towards a massive meltdown.

The thing is, the only way to get to that dream, for it to really mean something, is by working hard. By paying our dues. I was talking with a friend and former colleague, author Christine Kling, many moons ago about writing, and she said something like this: to get close to having something ready to publish, you have a million-word internship. In fact, she wrote this post about The Million Word Rule. And I believe it because, as clichéd as the saying is, it’s true that practice makes perfect (or better yet, practice makes better.)

Sometimes, I’ll hear well-meaning friends say, “Hurry up and write it!” Or family will want me to finish, but don’t understand the time I take away from them. But if I don’t sit on my behind and write, if I don’t spend the time to develop the characters and the world, to run through the steps that it takes to start and finish a draft, and then to revise it (over and over and over again) until it’s ready to send out, it won’t happen. I’ll have a half-finished story, a draft full of possibilities that’ll simply evaporate because I didn’t put in the time and effort. A book’s not going to write itself.

And on the same note, a first draft will NEVER be good enough. It can ALWAYS be better. It’s not called a shit-draft for nothing! I drill this into my students: the importance of writing multiple draft, of reading and re-reading and revising to polish their work. I take this to heart, and it’s what’s allowed me to silence my inner editor temporarily while I get the story down into that first, exploratory draft. But again, this is work. It takes time, dedication, patience, and endurance.

I haven’t reached my dream yet of being published, of sharing my writing with the world. I also don’t have an agent…yet. But I’ve seen how much I’ve grown in the past five years since I started taking writing seriously, as a career. Every class I take, every workshop and conference I attend, every critique I receive and every story I write puts me that much closer to reaching my goals. That’s what I have to do. If I want this with every cell of myself, then there’s no other option but to keep on writing, keep on trying, keep on paying my dues so that eventually, it will happen. And when it does, the prize will feel that much sweeter because I reached it with my own effort.

i-did-my-waiting-gif

Sure, there are days where it’s harder than others, days where the inner doubt creeps in and tries to take over. But that negativity is just an excuse. It’s a way of trying to take the easy way out, which I guess we’re programmed to want. So stuff a pillow in doubt’s mouth and keep going–the only way to reach that dream is by persevering! You can do it. And when you think about quitting because it’s just too hard, remember this:

“There’s only one thing that can guarantee our failure, and that’s if we quit.” – Unknown

And these:

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

“It’s when things get rough and you don’t quit that success comes.” – Unknown Quote

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.” – Ross Perot

Keep going, keep writing (or keep doing whatever it is you need to do to succeed)!

Perseverance

“You must want to enough.  Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning.  Like any other artist, you are learning your craft- then you can add all the genius you like.”  Phyllis Whitney

This. Exactly.

If you want something badly enough (like getting your book published), you’ll never give up. You’ll take rejection and it’ll make you stronger. You’ll push your limits. You’ll go out and seek opportunities to make you better and you’ll keep going. Because that’s the only way to make your dreams come true. 🙂