S is for Stubborn–and Success

There’s no shortcut to success. It’s just a lot of hard work. Unless your definition of success is laying on a sofa eating chips and watching TV all day. That’s not a lot of hard work. But for those of us with slightly higher goals in mind, hard work is an unavoidable prerequisite for reaching our goals.

But the thing about hard work is that…it’s hard. And often boring. And a lot of people give up their goals and walk away when success doesn’t happen fast.

So I think one of the biggest factors in success is stubbornness. Not like a 4-year-old temper tantrum “I-don’t-wanna-clean-up” stubborn, but that plodding sort of stubbornness that never looks heroic while it’s happening. You know the kind that makes you think, “What the heck am I doing this for? I’m not getting anywhere!”

Hey, as long as you’re moving forward, you’re getting somewhere.

I have a long way to go in reaching my goals, but I am a miles closer to them than I was a few years ago. And it’s all because I’m stubborn. I made my monster To-Do lists and chipped away at them. I faced pages of edit notes and chipped away. I connected with one person, then another, then another, to create a network of colleagues (and now friends) to help me along my path. I wrote in the scattered moments of free time my child allowed. I created an outline for a new book that seemed an insurmountable 62 chapters/scenes long and simply wrote one chapter at a time (I only have 48 left to write).

In other words, I never stopped moving forward. Sometimes I crawled, sometimes I inched, and sometimes I simply clung on for dear life, but I never went backward.


And I’m close to realizing my goals and dreams.

So the next time someone calls you stubborn, thank them.

It’s a compliment.

Do you think the stubborn factor is necessary for success?

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Polish Editing and Potty Training

This month I’ve been neck-deep in revisions, trying to get my manuscript ready for the editor by August 1st. I added about 20,000 words to my middle grade WIP during “big picture” edits, and now am in the process of trying to pull out 12,000 to get my word count back to where it should be. (For the record, I’ve cut a little over 7,500 words so far.)

Some of those cuts have come in large swaths, where I deleted large amounts of words by restructuring a chapter or two. For example, it occurred to me suddenly that my entire first chapter was window-dressing. Aside from about 200 words, I didn’t need any of it. So I cut the entire chapter and moved the 200 words to other places in the book.

Unfortunately, most of my word-pulling has not been so effortless. And since I am a mom as well as a not-yet-published writer, this intense editing is not the only thing on my plate. My two-year-old announced this past weekend that she wanted to wear big girl panties. Great for her! Bad for me.

My productivity drops like a stone when escorting a toddler to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes.

But I found that potty training and this level of intense editing have a lot in common:

1. Both are painstaking processes. Often success seems almost impossible, but each small victory moves us one step closer. Toddler has a Potty Chart. I have an Editing Progress Chart. Hers has flower stickers. Mine has color-coded squares. It’s all good.

2. Both require constant concentration. Toddler has to pay attention to her body. I have to pay attention to every single word and see if it deserves to live.

3. Both are best accomplished by taking them in small increments. We set a timer for 30 minutes for Toddler. For 20 if she’s been drinking a lot. I focus on one chapter at a time. One paragraph if I’ve been drinking a lot. (For the record, I don’t drink.)

4. Both have their share of accidents. Toddler—well, you can guess. As for me—Did I really just delete half a chapter?!? UNDO! UNDO!

5. Both will be successfully accomplished. Toddler will eventually stay dry all day. I will get this manuscript polished and ready for the editor. I will likely reach my goal first, but I will not complain if Toddler beats me to it. 🙂

Working on two very intense yet completely different projects saps my energy, but I am managing to muddle through.

As long as I do not become potty-mouthed in my writing or try to delete my daughter, things will work out fine.

Oops, there’s the timer! (I feel positively Pavlovian.)

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