In August 2018 I attended the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference. An RWA member since wayback, I haven’t made it to every conference, but for the ones I have there’s always been one or two sessions that stay with me long after the trip home. This year it was a session called Grit for Writers, presented by Tamar Sloan.
Tamar is a psychologist and an author and she’s done some thinking and researching on what it takes to be successful as a writer. No mean feat in today’s fast-paced, digital-driven, competitive world of publishing.
Her session got me thinking about my own journey as a writer, and whilst I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly ‘gritty’, I realised that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had the two things Tamar says are key to success: passion and perseverance.
And it is grit she writes, that keeps you living your passion and reaching for your dream. Given it took 7 years from first draft to publication for The Country Practice (Penguin 2015), and 5 years of false starts and rejections before that, I do believe I’m grittier than I thought!
When I think back, there are many points along the way where it would have been easier to give up, and use the time spent writing, pursuing other interests, like more reading. Even now, when I purposefully ponder, I cannot define exactly what it is that’s kept, and keeps me going. But here are a few reflections:
- I’ve always loved to read, and there’s nothing more satisfying than creating stories
for others to read and enjoy.
- The ongoing desire to improve my understanding of the craft and reflect it in my
- Reading lots continues to teach me what works in a story, and what doesn’t.
- The amazing and generous writers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and learning
from along the way.
- Making a conscious decision to be open-minded about any constructive criticism that
comes my way.
- Being realistic about what success looks like for me.
- When the passion flags and the perseverance falters, having a few special people
who always know the right things to say or do to get me back on track.
- Reciprocity: doing for others what they’ve been kind and generous enough to do for
Becoming a published author started me on what I think of as my second career. It’s a steep learning curve. An added, and unexpected bonus is that I’m learning a lot about myself on the way.
All writers, I believe, want to be published in some way. It’s why we write. And it takes grit. So don’t give up!
PS If you’re interested in Tamar Sloan’s book Grit for Writers, it is available here: https://books2read.com/u/bQ9A1P