What does it take to be a successful writer? A few different things, but there’s one thing that we often overlook: persistence.
I’m guilty of wishing for shortcuts, or hoping for a lucky break. (I’ve given up on “overnight success; the only writers I can think of who succeeded relatively quickly were Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert Heinlein.)
J.K. Rowling wrote stories since early childhood. She started writing about Harry Potter in 1990, but didn’t finish the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone until 1995. It was rejected by the first twelve publishers she submitted it to. (And don’t you think those twelve publishers have kicked themselves black and blue since then?)
But that pales compared to Louis L’Amour, author of more than 100 books, who received 350 rejections before his first piece was published.
Roy H. Williams, bestselling author and marketing consultant, says this about persistence:
Do you want to be a published author? Take the advice of Mark Twain, “Write without pay until someone offers to pay.” Write intelligent, clearly worded letters to the editor. Submit feature stories and op-ed pieces to magazines and websites. Write a blog on whatever subject you’d like to become known as an expert. If you have something to say worth hearing, people will tell other people and soon your readership will begin to grow. It may take a few years but if you self-select and don’t go away, you’ll someday have a book in print.
Which reminds me of Winston Churchill’s famous dictum:
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never.