Just been rejected by a publisher? Wondering how you're ever, ever going to get your manuscript finished? Considering giving up on being a writer? No, friend. Noooooo. You're just in a creative slump. As a writer, I know there are times when everything's flowing: ideas, time, money, words, praise. And there are times when Things Fall Apart (sorry) and you're tempted to give up. If that's you today, read this advice from those with experience in persistence, including me.
1. 'Learning to fail also includes learning to write like crap and not care. Push through. We all write like crap...The reader will never see it. You’ll revise it to perfection and delete the bad parts. The key is to have something down to work with. So learn to fail. Keep going.' - Hugh Howey, author of the Silo series
2. J.K. Rowling: Failure is so important. It doesn't get spoken about enough. We speak about success all the time. But it's the ability to use failure that often leads to the greatest achievement. I've often met people who are terrified, in a straitjacket of their own making, because they don't want to try for fear of failing. Rock bottom wasn't fun at all. But it was liberating.
Oprah: How so?
J.K. Rowling: What did I have to lose?
- The Oprah Winfrey Show
3. 'Go, go, go! Sorry to have to remind you, but one day you’ll be dead and you won’t be able to write.' - Catriona Ross, Story Star: How to write your first novel and use the uncanny power of fiction to turn your wishes into reality.
4. 'I play and I keep playing because I choose to play. Even if it's not your ideal life, you can always choose it. No matter what your life is, choosing it changes everything.' - Andre Agassi, Open
5. 'Hurt feelings or discomfort of any kind cannot be caused by another person. No one outside me can hurt me. That's not a possibility. It's only when I believe a stressful thought that I get hurt. And I'm the one who's hurting me by believing what I think. This is very good news, because it means that I don't have to get someone else to stop hurting me. I'm the one who can stop hurting me. It's within my power.' - Byron Katie, Loving What Is
6. 'Your fear is energy. Use it to your advantage and have it catapult your performance. If you try to suppress it, it will only come back at you with a vengeance. Instead, just sit with fear in your body; notice it without panicking about it being there.' Simon Ekin, author ofThe Art of Courage
7. 'I once read that the only constant that all humans have is a 24-hour day. If you take out eight hours of building a career, and eight hours of sleep, you have eight hours to do something that you really love. This eye-opening observation changed my mind forever. You can never find time to write; you can only create it. To fit writing into my schedule, I break down the work into easy, manageable pieces. My latest novel is about 60,000 words. Instead of trying to write everything at once, I chose to write 1,000 words per day. Within 90 days I had the novel ready, including revisions.' - Kinyanjui Kombani, a.k.a. The Banker Who Writes.
8. 'Writing is a blast, but it's also work. So forget about waiting for inspiration. Sit your butt in a chair every day and write a set amount of words. In a few months, you'll have a completed novel. Repeat many times. Eventually, you'll have a story that could pay the mortgage. If you do this long enough, you might be able to quit your day job.' - Vaughn Heppner, author of The Lost Starship
9. Interviewer: Do you have any advice for younger writers?
Jim Harrison: Just start at page one and write like a son of a bitch.
- The Paris Review
10. 'It takes a long time to become an overnight success, so work harder than you ever thought possible. Then work some more. Don't give up. Don't complain. Just do it again. And then again. And if it's not working, my final piece of advice to you is probably the most surprising of all – quit. Don't stop writing entirely: Quit that particular sentence, paragraph or chapter. If it doesn't fit, cut it out, step over the blood, dry your tears and move on.' - Margie Orford, author of the Clare Hart series; O, The Oprah Magazine
11. 'You've got to plan; you've got to be meticulous, but there comes a time when you have to accept the consequences of what you're doing. You've got to dive in and go for it. If you dive in with thoughts of victory and defeat, if you're listening to both wolves, it ain't going to happen.' - Lewis Pugh, endurance swimmer
12. 'Each moment is a new beginning. The point of power is always in the present moment. You are never stuck.' - Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life
13. 'Time, which is your enemy in almost everything in this life, is your friend in writing. It is. If you can relax into time, not fight it, not fret at its passing, you will become better. You probably won’t be very good at the beginning, but you will become better, and eventually you may actually become good. But it doesn’t help to be afraid of time, or to measure yourself against prodigies like Conrad or Crane or Rimbaud. There’s always going to be somebody who did it better than you, faster than you, and you don’t want to make comparisons that will discourage you in your work. In fact, most fiction writers tend to graybeard their way into their best work.' - Tobias Wolff, The Paris Review
14. 'We all have talent but only those who see the value in their talent make it. ...get the necessary means to educate yourself about your passion and how to maximise your talents.' - Fashion designer Leah Misika
15. 'The best books come from deep within us. Consider your life experiences when you're seeking inspiration for characters and stories. I drew from losing a baby halfway through a pregnancy for one of my characters and from the loss of my dad for another. Readers can connect with characters who go through the same struggles they experience in their own lives. Tapping into how my own losses affected me allowed me to create more emotional, authentic stories. I treasure messages from readers who tell me they've gone through similar losses and that my books helped them find healing.' - Brenda Rothert, author of Bound
16. 'I'd define the essence of a writer in four words: imagination, passion, consistency, and quality. Keep your hopes above all else, no matter what. Never get discouraged, make the most of negative criticism, but don't get carried away with positive feedback either.' - Christophe Paul, author of The Penny Thief
17. 'Keep writing. Everyone reaches a point where they think they should throw the book away. I always think the difference between a published and unpublished writer is that the published one just kept writing.' - Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
18. 'Don't focus on the end goal. Focus on what's in front of you. Take it one stroke at a time.' - Chris Bertish, first solo trans-Atlantic stand-up paddleboarder
19. 'If you want to write a novel, ignore all advice. Just write the damn book, even if you're sure everyone else will hate it. If you like it, many others will.' - Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series
20. '”Sabrina, I want you to write me a novel.” Her commanding tone sends electricity down my arms. “Stop waiting for something or someone to inspire you,” she says. “Get inspired by your own life. Find a chaise; lie on it; be your own muse, for heaven’s sake. Can’t you see the best stories are already inside you, awaiting their release?”’ Catriona Ross,The Presence of
Peacocks or How to Find Love and Write a Novel
21. 'You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.' - Woodrow Wilson, (1856-1924), 28th U.S. president
Catriona Ross is the author of several books, including three guides for writers: Writing for Magazines: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know; Story Star: How to write your first novel and use the uncanny power of fiction to turn your wishes into reality, and the novel for aspirant novelists, The Presence of Peacocks or How to Find Love and Write a Novel.