What does resilience mean when it comes to writing, and building a successful writing career? Is it something that only a few have? Or can we learn it, increase it, expand it? I’d say resilience is at least as important as perseverance, and it is related, but it’s different. The dictionary defines resilience as the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune – or in terms of a material, what enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent or compressed or stretched.
Resilience as a writer means all of those things. The ability to recover quickly from a harsh rejection, for instance, or a meeting with a publisher that didn’t go well. It also means that when you finish your vampire novel and come up for air, and then realize that you have missed the boat and no one wants vampire stories anymore … you put it away and start a new novel. And it means that when your mother reads your latest story and says it was “very nice” or suggests it’s time you went out and got a real job, you have to suck it up and ignore her!
What bends you out of shape as a writer? Here are some other possibilities: an unsupportive writing group; an unsupportive spouse; sending out query letters and not even receiving a rejection; having no money to attend those wonderful conferences everyone raves about; receiving dozens of rejections for a piece you just know is one of your best; having your best writer friend receive a contract and a $100,000 advance for her first novel; getting halfway through your new novel and realizing you hate the story and you’re never going to finish it. (Just add your own to the list!)
But the element that will get you through all of these things is resilience. Not just because it will help you get back in the writing chair sooner, but because developing resilience will help you learn how to sidestep or solve some of those difficult situations. For instance, resilience keeps you submitting work, no matter what, and when you are submitting more, you’ll receive more rejections – for a while. But as you continue to write, and improve, the rejections will lessen. Along the way, those rejections will toughen you up, and they’ll hurt less, thereby increasing your resilience.
As you get stronger, you’ll be able to brush off naysayers, make more time for your writing, save harder for that conference, and finish that novel you thought you hated and learn more about your craft along the way.
Discipline and perseverance are what you need to get started and keep going. With those two, you can write novel after novel. Resilience will help you at the other end, when your publishing dreams are still dreams. Don’t forget craft and your openness to learning how to improve, but resilience will help you bounce back when you need to, and add the final touches to your lengthy writing career.
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