On Writing – Perseverance

Writers, I have found in my experience, are mostly cynical creatures, and most of that cynicism is directed at their own work.

I think this cynicism stems from two things – firstly perfectionism, and secondly being too close to one’s own work.

Anyone whose passionate about their creation would want it to be perfect. Whether it is the first draft of the 10th, there comes a point where any creator has to take a step back and go this is as good as it is going to get.

It takes a lot of humility to admit that you can’t make a piece any better, and it takes a lot on one’s own confidence to admit that there comes a point where you can’t work on something any more. It is like exhaling a breath that you simply cannot hold in any more, a sigh for the job completed, and the final page turned.

Then comes the closeness’ to one’s work. I like to think of this in three ways.

There is the way that every creator is close to their work, because they have laboured over it for so long. After a while, you become blind to any mistakes because you have written and re written the same things so many times. It becomes meaningless after such a long time.

There is also the closeness that comes from privacy. It’s the closeness, almost protectiveness that one has over their work, because it’s theirs. There is a sense that your work is an extension of your very soul, and so you must protect it and keep it safe from any kind of negativity or opinion that might be thrown its way.

Then, finally, it’s the closeness that comes with vulnerability. Anyone who has written anything will tell you there is a semblance of truth in their writing that comes from their own lives. Maybe it’s a question they want to explore, or a feeling they want to vent on the page, but whatever it is there is a sliver of their very mind that is hidden between those words.

There comes a time when one must leave a project, or post their work, or try a new project, and to do that takes bravery. Each time, a writer faces a very real fear that they have to overcome again, and again, and again.

However many times they overcome that fear, it doesn’t go away. But it does get a little bit easier every time.

All it takes is a little bit of perseverance.

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