Sometimes I look back and wonder what might have happened if I’d been less stubborn. And it reminds me that refusing to quit has saved me more times than it’s harmed me.
If I’d quit submitting essays to magazines when I was 15, I never would have published one at 16.
If I’d quit blogging after the first year — when I’d gained two subscribers and only one of those subscribers read my posts every two weeks — I never would have developed Novelty Revisions into what it has become almost 10 years later.
If I’d given up on my dream of being a writer when I didn’t get picked to write for my college newspaper during my freshman year, I never would have landed the internship that inspired the study that eventually led to my first full-time writing job.
When we’re told no, our first instinct is to just say, “OK, fine, forget it.”
But that’s an impulse driven by anger and frustration — not one inspired by logic. After taking time to really think about it, you might realize that rejection isn’t even close to a good reason to stop trying to “be a writer.” In fact, it’s actually the best reason to KEEP TRYING TO SUCCEED.
In every rejection, there is a lesson. In every lesson, there is growth.
Maybe you won’t get published in the same magazine that rejected you, hired by the same company that said no, or rewarded for sticking with the thing you thought would drive the majority of your future success.
But that does not mean that success will not find you. “Making it” as a writer does not involve following one straight path. There are so many side roads and dead ends and forks along the way that it’s impossible to tell where you’re even at in your journey until something Big And Exciting happens.
You just have to keep wandering around, writing as much as you can, doing the best work you know how to do, until it leads you somewhere worthwhile.
I firmly believe that persistence will always land you somewhere better than you thought you’d ever end up. Granted, I only have my experiences to rely on, and I’m not necessarily the most “reliable narrator.” I’m just one person, and I’m a stubborn, hard-headed perfectionist. I don’t quit because I can’t stand it. Even the thought of it makes me feel sick.
But think about it. If you just gave up every time something in your life hadn’t worked out … would you be where you are today? If you hadn’t given up on something you to this day regret leaving behind, would your life have turned out differently? Better?
Don’t give up on something too soon just because it’s hard or painful or you don’t know where it’s going.
Instead, go after it harder. Sometimes we think we know the best way to achieve something when it turns out there’s a much better way. We’ll never find it if we simply walk away and never look back.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.