At the beginning of the summer, Anna usually takes a look at a few writing handbooks, in part to switch her mindset from the varied demands of the semester’s work a more writing-focused stretch of time and in part to keep an eye out for future textbooks she can use in the classroom. A few weeks ago, she read A Writer’s Guide to Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing Practice by Jordan Rosenfeld.
Anna read this book cover to cover, in fact, because she’s written about perseverance herself (most recently in a chapter of the new book Creative Composition), and perseverance is really what Rosenfeld is talking about, too, throughout this new guide. We’ve written about perseverance and grit here at Lofty Ambitions as well. So, after Anna finished reading, she said, We should do a blog post about this book.
We’ve also written about writing and about writing guides before (Nonfiction HERE, Fiction HERE, Science Writing HERE), so it fits into the Lofty Ambitions project and our exploration of writing as a couple. Doug took one look at the book’s cover and said, I heard Jordan Rosenfeld talk at a Writer’s Digest conference. Doug remembered her as very smart and, in particular, that she recommended writers read poetry, regardless of whether they write poetry. We, of course, couldn’t agree more.
Another thing with which we agree wholeheartedly is Rosenfeld’s attitude toward what she calls synchronicity and what we’ve called here at Lofty Ambitions serendipity. Rosenfeld points to Carl Jung’s notion that life has a deeper order and suggests that recognizing such an order or framework is “a sign that you are moving into a place where you are welcome and that you are taking your writing life seriously and committing to your work.” We like serendipity a lot because it’s a level of awareness and an ability to make connections that might otherwise be missed. We welcome Rosenfeld’s idea that, whether or not you accept Jung’s notion, synchronicity might be a stage of increased focus and important for a sustained writing life.
You might also see synchronicity as the phenomenon in which events line up in your life in such a way as to look like coincidence but feel like something much more meaningful.
As we think ahead here to our writing residency at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony later this summer, we share some of Rosenfeld’s other notions that we’re keeping in mind.
Writers are the people who find a way, no matter what, to keep writing, polishing, and persisting. You are no different than all the other writers in the world.
No excuses. No one will do it for you. Your writing practice is in your hands.
The things that distract you from your writing often give you a form of pleasure or a rush of endorphins. But these distractions also fritter away both time and mental energy for the writing you hope to do.
If you don’t put your writing first, you inevitably put your energies elsewhere, and the ball starts rolling down one of a variety of slopes having nothing to do with your writing.
Your writing won’t threaten you with punishment for not doing it. Only you can hold you accountable.
Criticism takes issue with you or your style or subject in an unhelpful way; critique offers you strategies for improvement. Big difference.
You can see rejection as a message that encourages you to take action in one of two keys ways: Go deeper, or go elsewhere.
At Lofty Ambitions, we heed that last advice especially. We’re willing to revise, and we’re willing to move on to the next opportunity.
2 thoughts on “Persistence & Writing”
Wow! You hit me in the teeth with this one! Just what I needed to hear to get me going again. I’m checking to see that Scott reads this one too. He and I worked out an outline for a paper/book a month ago and haven’t gone beyond it. Time to get to work! Thanks!
Ok. Scott says I need to update my reply. Upon reading your blog post, I was inspired. This is where the serendipity comes in…Scott came out to the patio with his coffee (he’s off for long 4th of July holiday). I read him your blog and about 3 hours later we have a rough draft of chapter one, the format the book is taking, and a compatible working style. We also set up a writing/editing schedule. None of this would have taken place if I had not serendipitously read your blog. We believe it’s due to the synchronicity of finding a new order thus moving in the direction of completing a plan of writing that we had set for ourselves. Either way, we owe you thanks again for your inspiration!
Great to hear! That’s just the kick-in-the-butt reason we read these sorts of guides.