Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Passion, Patience, Perseverance

"I'd rather be a failure at something I enjoy,” George Burns once said, “than be a success at something I hate." This most definitely applies to writing.  It applies to life, too, doesn’t it?

Two weeks ago, The Power of Five  was such a success for me trying to sell my writing assets that I upped it to ten last week and this week also to ten to end September on a high note, to make up for what didn't get sent out in August and the first half of the month.  Enthusiasm breeds discipline just like success breeds success. If something is working, stick with it, make it a habit.  Turn it into a game.  Play with the numbers.  How many can I send out before I break for lunch?  How many before I call it a day?  What else can I do today to help myself move my career forward?  Finally, I’m getting my work out there on a consistent basis. I’m letting editors and agents also know that, hey, I have something of value that you might be interested in. 

Come October, knowing that I kept my Power-of-Five commitment into its third week, I'll do the daily double, advancing a major project in the mornings and marketing my work in the afternoon, day in, day out for an entire month.  I want to face both fears each day and see what magic I can create. 

There’s a fine line between success and failure and the difference is fear.  We often fear, on a subconscious level, both failure (being called a loser or a washed up writer) and also success (all that hard work to get there and the pressure to stay there–that second novel syndrome).  That explains why we so sometimes “drop the ball”.  Why we suddenly misplace important information that’s critical to our success (a document, an important email address), or procrastinate until the last moment, thus guaranteeing that we do a rushed job to beat the deadline, if we complete it in at all. Or we make ourselves too busy to get around to the important career-making stuff by busying ourselves with busywork!   “Look, I’m so busy!”  But busy doing what?  Been there, done that, too.  

These are all self-sabotaging actions that’s caused by our unconscious belief system that we “don’t deserve success”, or “that we’re not good enough” or we’re afraid we’ll be “exposed as a fraud”.  Who me, a best-selling, award willing novelist?  Ha! 

Writing can be scary, but the only way to overcome fear is to face it, acknowledge it, and do that what you fear—write that novel and market and sell what you write—and have faith in your own ability.  It all begins with passion!  If you don't have passion in what you do, you won't have the patience to complete it, nor the perseverance to see it through to its ultimate success.  This stuff is not easy, but it is doable. Others do it all the time; for them it's routine.  It's all about psychology and your attitude, isn't it? 

Besides, on the other side of that fear, on the other side of that self-imposed brick wall, is what you want.  I’ve learned over these past six months since leaving teaching that fear doesn't get you anywhere!  It merely holds you back, even paralyzes you into inaction!  So now I'm focusing on what I want to achieve, giving myself deadlines to accomplish it, and have the faith that in the end that it'll all work out because passion, patience, and perseverance will see me through. 

Passion is what life’s all about.  If you don’t have passion in your life, in your marriage, in your work, in your writing, how do you expect to succeed?  If you’re not passionate about what you write, how do you expect others to feel passionate about it?  It’s that passion, I’m finding out, that keeps me writing.  It’s that passion that makes me patient for success.  It’s that passion that allows me to rewrite that novel one more time.  And it’s that passion and also the patience that allows me to persevere, to hang in there, knowing that I’m only a failure when I give up writing, when I find more excuses not to write than to write.
So, the question is, are you willing to do what’s necessary to achieve your goals?  A good place to start is with your own power of five.  What five things can you do today that will take you a step closer to achieving your goals?  It’s important to ask yourself the right questions, and then to think and write down your answers. Of course, the most important step of all is to take immediate action.  The longer you delay, the more you guarantee it won’t get done. Do it now while the thought is there!

Now this may seem silly to some, but every morning, when I do push ups in repetitions of five (that power of five again), I say: 1) I’m 2) a 3) best-selling 4) award-winning  5) writer.   Besides merely exercising, I’m changing my belief system, so I can power-of-five my way through the fear, through the day.  Because I know that on the other side of that fear, success is waiting for me. 
                                                         -Robert Raymer, Borneo Expat Writer

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:

Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.

Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.

Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day

Chuah Guat Eng,  author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change. 


Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I 


Anonymous said...

"Wow" You're an early riser. Blogging at so early hour. Great! Shows passion! (AM)

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Thanks, but I believe it has more to do with writing in a different time zone. In Borneo where I'm based, I'm at least a half day ahead of the US. Regardless of the time of day that you write, passion is a crucial ingredient to success! Good luck!