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On Stickability

Sometimes the going - at anything - gets tough. In my day job (a management consultant when we're being swish, a management nerd when we're not) stickability is identified as a key requirement in the modern workplace and one not always met.

I think I'm quite lucky with my stickability - which is, I think, sometimes mistaken for drive. It has been my long-held belief that trying hard is only one part of the equation - keeping trying is the other, and bigger, part of success.

Of all the areas of my life where sticking at it has been most needed, it is with writing. I've set up a business and that was easier than finishing a novel, and then a trilogy, and then more novels. Honestly, getting an agent only to lose them (careless I know) led to probably one of the most bleak days of my professional life. Sending out the emails to tell people what had happened, letting the news out on Social media, was all hard enough to make me slink off.

And yet I didn't. I brought the book out proudly and loved every moment doing it. I sold the book the agent had rejected and loved every minute of its publishing journey. And, last week, I started subbing agents in earnest again. I got close to the dream last time - why not again when my writing skills are more honed and my profile higher? Why give up when I can try again?

It's not just me who does this. My writing timelines are cluttered with people who have had knocks but are still writing, and who will still be writing when their moment comes knocking. Because just about every successful writer will have had to grind out a hard time to make it.

My tips then, blended from management knowledge and my own beliefs:

1. When you get a knock back remind yourself how much you have still achieved. I lost an agent? So what! I hit one in the first place so I must be good enough.

2. Don't expect instant gratification. In this age of easy celebrity it's easy to hold we, too, will be lucky. But we might not be. We might have to graft it out instead.

3. Give yourself time. It's taken me 2 years to finally feel ready to get back on the query horse. Knock backs hurt. They need reflection time.

4. Get encouragement. No one is strong enough to keep going alone. Steve Covey calls it 'yoking-up' to share the burden. And when others have it tough - support the back.

5. Challenge the negative thoughts that come from discouragement. Change them to positives and move forwards, not back. Regrets will take you nowhere; fear of it happening again will freeze you forever.

And lastly, keep at it! No one can finish you as a writer except yourself :)