Thursday, March 25, 2010

Definition Please: Diligence

So, right now, I'm working my way through several different character traits that seem pretty important for a writer. It's probably something that everyone has thought about at one point or another: what makes a good author?

It's easy to think that you (speaking in the hypothetical, second person sort of you) have written the world's first perfect draft. It's easy to think that you will be the one that will find a kick butt agent with your very first query attempt. It's easy to think that an editor will fight for the rights to your book with an auction that gives you a HUGE advance. It's easy to think that you will be the one to become the overnight sensation.

It's hard to keep going when none of those things happen. It's hard to accept criticism and recognize the truth in it. It's hard to believe that rejection from an agent isn't a reflection of you as a person. It's hard to continue to put hours and hours and hours into something when you don't know if it will ever get you anywhere.

And that's where diligence comes in. To keep on when you don't see anything coming from it, when you lose motivation, inspiration, and desire. To just work through it.

I first figured this out as a mom, actually. No matter how many times I do the dishes or pick up the house or fold the laundry, it will have to be done again in two hours, two days, two weeks, two years. I have to be diligent about it, no matter how many times I have to do it. Nobody else is going to pick up the slack if I don't. And it's the same with my writing.

So, when things are feeling tough, when the words just aren't coming, when other things get in the way, I'm going to be diligent.

How do you define diligence? What does it mean to you?


Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, my gosh! I can't believe I never thought to compare writing and drafting to housework - that's brilliant! PERFECT! :-)

Elana Johnson said...

Diligence to me is doing something even when it gets hard. Great parallel to housework and parenting.

Elle Strauss said...

I don't think you can succeed as a writer without diligence. Or at anything for that manner. At the same time, it's easy to become driven to the point of losing balance. The trick is to be master of both.