Here’s something it’s tempting to forget in our daily pursuit of goals and general busy-ness. We live in a world where huge advertising dollars are spent trying to convince us that a quick fix, fast track or easy hack is available and desirable. I, for one, can sometimes overlook the importance of perseverance.
I’m just back from four tiring but inspirational days at the San Francisco Writers Conference. As usual, the team there did an incredible job in providing a wide and motivating agenda of sessions, covering both the craft and business of writing. I’ve done round-up posts of this conference before, so this year I thought I’d pause and identify just one key theme.
It came most clearly during Jane Friedman‘s keynote speech, but was there as an undercurrent during many of the sessions. The idea of perseverance – or as she put it, staying on the bus – is key for any of us who are involved in big, long-term projects. That’s pretty much all writers! Friedman spoke of the uncertainty and confusion which can plague authors as they navigate toward a book which is both worthwhile and marketable, and how the temptation to switch course ultimately sends us in circles.
Another panelist reminded us of the concept of Grit, as described in Angela Duckworth’s book of the same name. (As a multi-passionate writer, this was a tough book for me to read, but I appreciated Duckworth’s points!) Other speakers told of the many times they had wanted to give up in their quest for publication, how serendipity appeared to come from nowhere but was actually founded on years of hard work.
Luck, after all, turns out best when it’s combined with dogged preparation.
I write extensively about productivity, time management, and habits. I try not to get sidetracked by “click bait” articles promising 50 life-changing hacks, but I’m definitely not immune to these clever, attention-grabbing headlines. So it’s especially good to pause and remember that although we can be smart, mindful, and intentional about the work we do, there really is no substitute for the work itself. Our best plan of action is to make sure our goals are purposeful, choose intelligent tactics, and then stay the course.
How about you? Where has perseverance brought you success? And which big project can you complete, if you keep working with steady tenacity?