book review

A Writer’s Guide to Persistence Review

A Writer's Guide to Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing PracticeA Writer’s Guide to Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing Practice by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I usually just copy and paste these reviews in from my Goodreads profile, but I wanted to quickly preface this one. I’ve been having some difficulty finding the time and energy over the past few months to persevere in revising my current novel while working on other projects. This book was exactly what I needed to give me an important perspective shift and realize I can continue accomplishing what I set out to do. I highly recommend it to anyone who might be questioning themselves and their writing. It can be a bit on “new-agey” in parts, but the core message it delivers is honest and sound.
An excellent read to help inspire authors and give some firm but fair advice on creating a long lasting writing practice. Jordan Rosenfeld does well in re-framing a lot of common problems that writers face, from rejection to self-criticism, and gives solid advice getting through those issues with a positive attitude. There are exercises (both physical and creative) at the end of each section, so the reader can take action on what the author is advising.

For what it’s worth, I enjoyed Rosenfeld adding a chapter that “de-glamorizes” self publishing, and makes the reader ask some important questions of themselves prior to diving into that world versus the traditional publishing route. People are quick to push their work out to Amazon these days, and I like her thought process on why writers should be a bit more mindful prior to clicking the “publish” button.

Definitely a more personal and storied tone than many writing advice books. It’s not a sterile technical manual (looking at you, Strunk&White). If you’re looking for something akin to “On Writing”, but without as much autobiography, this would be a solid addition to your repertoire.

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Writing Tip: Write When You Can

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“You must write every single day of your life…” – Ray Bradbury

“Write every day.” – bloggers all over the Internet

This statement drives me crazy. It makes the Top 5 on almost every list of advice for writers, and it’s unrealistic. It’s generally delivered with no context, and I think it can actually become discouraging to new authors if it isn’t qualified a bit.

Given that, I want to dole out some slightly different advice.

“Write whenever you can.”

Writing every day is an admirable goal, and it’s a wonderful brass ring to reach for. It ensures you stay focused and make time in your schedule to chip away at that essay or novel. However, I think some who might take it as a mandate could get down on themselves if they miss a day or two. If you’re anything like me, your daily life does everything it can to PREVENT you from having free time to sit and write.

That’s why I write whenever I can. Lunch breaks, commutes, rare quiet moments in the early morning and late evening. Little 15-30 minute chunks that add up over time. Career and family always trump “being an author” at this stage in my life, so I need to catch those elusive moments of downtime while they flow like sand through the proverbial hourglass.

If you miss a few days (or even weeks) in your routine, don’t be hard on yourself. It happens to everyone. The important part is that the desire to write exists. If that spark is there, it can always be rekindled. There are days when I have no time, or even when I am just feeling creatively bankrupt. However, I always know I’ll return to writing.

Speaking of, I think the expanded statement “Write even when you don’t want to. Every day.” is even more contentious. I make it a point to step away when I don’t feel good about writing, because I’ve tried “forcing it” enough times to know my output will be subpar and end up just being scrapped or revised anyway. That’s a personal style, but I’ve had other writers tell me they feel the same way. I’d rather take that time to read or do something else to become creatively re-charged.

Burnout is another potential issue, and coming off the heels of NanoWriMo I’m sure there’s plenty of new authors who never want to touch a keyboard again after the intense marathon through November. Again, writing every day is an admirable goal, but it shouldn’t be considered gospel. Your work will always be there when you get back to it.

Besides, Asimov was a better writer anyway…

Do you try to write every single day? If so, do you feel like it helps you as an author? Or do you work more like me and enjoy taking a break now-and-then?