Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have often been asked what I consider to be the most important ingredient for success in freelance writing. Well, to me, there are many important ingredients, some of which I have discussed in previous posts – Qualities of a Professional Freelance Writer and How to be a Successful Freelance Writer – but the most important is perseverance. No writer, no matter how good he or she is, can ever succeed without perseverance. But what exactly is perseverance?
The dictionary defines ‘perseverance’ as ‘persistence in anything undertaken; continued pursuit or prosecution of any business, or enterprise begun’. This means that whatever you set out to do, in this case writing, you have to persist despite all difficulties or hurdles that may come your way. An ideal example is one of a child learning to walk – he walks a few steps, then falls, picks himself up and starts walking again, again he falls, and still again he gets up and starts all over again. Each time that he rises and starts again, his walk becomes faster and more persistent. This is how a writer should be – each time he fails in an attempt, he should rise and try again, and that, too, with a stronger resolve.
A writer may face failures in many ways. Well, some may not be failures per se, ‘difficulties’ may be a better word, but for the sake of convenience I am calling them all by one name here. Now, what are these situations? The most common are:
1. Writer’s block. This is a situation in which a writer is unable to produce new work. All writers, aspiring or experienced, face such a situation sometime or the other during the course of their career. Unless a writer learns how to overcome writer’s blocks, he/she may stop writing altogether. What is required here is perseverance, perseverance to continue writing despite blocks. This may sound easy, but believe me, it isn’t (I’m sure all you writers out there understand what I mean). Try and find the cause and try to remove it. Even if there is no cause, or you don’t know what it is, don’t stop writing just because you can’t. Write and keep writing. The results may not be good, but keep writing, regardless of the quality of output.
2. Criticism. This is again something that almost all writers face. If a writer’s work is praised, it is also criticized – sometimes very scathingly. This hurts, often very badly. Why? Because a lot of hard work goes into the production of each piece. It’s your baby, you have produced it. But if you let criticism overtake you, you can never continue to write. Take it in your stride – if it is from an expert, learn something from it; if it is from a layman or just intended to pull you down (this is very common), just ignore it and continue to write. Don’t stop just because you have been criticized.
3. Rejection. All writers’ works get rejected by publishers some time or the other. Even the greatest of writers have had their works rejected. Don’t let your spirits down if your manuscript gets rejected. Believe in yourself and have the persistence and tenacity to continue. If not one publisher, then the next; if not the next, then another. There are a number of publishers out there, someone is bound to publish your book.
4. Lack of assignments. Assignments and projects don’t come easy. There are countless freelance writers out there, each one trying to outdo the other. Unless you learn to go out there and compete with them, you will never get any assignment or project. Persist in your attempts by contacting and keeping in touch with potential clients and marketing yourself in all the right ways. Don’t be disheartened if there is no response. Continue pursuing your goal and you’ll definitely succeed.
Perseverance is the key to success. Like George E. Allen once said – “People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to.”
Do you agree with this?