Perseverance in Writing

Perseverance is a restless state. At least for me it is.

Some writers write best when they are in their favorite chair with a steaming cup of coffee or tea nearby. They might also like to wear a comfy old sweatshirt or have an overlarge tabby purring in their lap. Their perseverance is fortified by the warmth and safety of home.

Others persevere at their desk, with a clear view out the window and a small lamp on. Their perseverance is more habitual, colder perhaps, but solid as poured concrete.

Still others persevere at noisy cafes. They need their laptop, earbuds, and the milling activity of strangers around them in order to write best. Their perseverance is fueled by a little controlled chaos.

Perseverance. Every writer needs it and can’t, in fact, succeed without it.

A saying popular at writers’ conferences goes like this, “You don’t find time to write, you make time to write.” Another writerly saying I’ve heard more than once is, “AIC: Ass in chair.”

Perseverance, for me, is a restless state of being. I mean this in two ways.

1) I’m always struggling with perseverance. Some days I’m on fire to write. Some days I’m not. Sometimes five pages come easily. At other times I can hardly write five sentences. Sometimes I’m emotionless, writing gray, egg carton words. Other days I’m livid or delirious or silly and end up writing junk food that leaves you hungry for something worthwhile.

Sticking with writing through these times – the doldrums of creatively dead writing sessions . . . the angry bursts of bitter, unusable paragraphs – that is perseverance. And I’m always taking it off and putting it on again like it’s a shirt I’m not sure I want to wear. But it should be my skin; always with me, always growing, bleeding and painful when cut.

2) Perseverance is also a restless sate for me because I have no special chair which draws out my best writing. I don’t have a routine, a dedicated space, or a certain way I write best. I often write standing up at my kitchen counter, until my feet hurt and I move to the sofa. There I loom over my laptop perched on an ottoman. After a while I get up, grab a drink, and head into the bedroom. I can’t write slouching against the headboard, so I sit with a straight back on the edge of the bed, writing until I feel burning in my shoulders. Then I head back to the kitchen.

Between paragraphs I change the laundry, start the dishes, fold the throw blankets, and perform any other random tasks while my ideas are forming. This may sound distracting, even unproductive, but this is how I almost always end up writing. This is what perseverance looks like for me. It’s a restless state.

What does perseverance look like for you? 

blank paper on desk



3 thoughts on “Perseverance in Writing

  1. Amelia

    This helps me as I get ready for JOT. I don’t have a set routine or space or place to write either. I often find myself doing the things you listed – moving around, switching laundry, wiping down a counter… I find myself often writing in the “crack” of life. In between activities and responsibilities. Yet, I find writing in the midst of real-life informs and inspired my writing. So it works.

  2. Bob Evenhouse

    I try to do what others do and fail. We all have different responsibilities and life situations but we must find what works best for us. Sometimes it’s writing in the cracks, or creating office hours were we hide away undisturbed for a few hours. Whatever we writers can do to keep going. I get too distracted and ” out of the groove” if I keep getting interrupted. I create office hours for now and am always mindful of my goals. This works for the time being.

    1. Amelia

      I think that’s the key, Bob. We each have to figure out what works for us rather than trying to follow someone else’s formula.


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