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It Takes Grit to Write Novels

For years, I’ve watched a ton of high-ability students underachieve in my science classes. They aspire to go to Ivy League colleges, become six-figure wage earners, and park their fancy cars inside fancy garages attached to fancy homes. And yet they don’t have the wherewithal to sit down and memorize ten facts that would yield an A on a test. Yes, I know education is not about teaching to a test, and yes, I know that rote memorization is a “no-no,” but let’s face it. Without that skill, most of us would have never graduated college.

Memorization is not the easiest thing. You have to work at it, sometimes repeating the same fact over and over a hundred times until you know it. That takes grit–essentially the gumption to not give up, keep working hard, and push until you win the prize.

The same issue strikes would-be authors as they try to muddle their way through a novel. I’ve seen so many people give up on a story after a few bad critiques. Or, they’ve self-published drivel rather than revising tirelessly to make their book great.

I love this TED talk from Angela Duckworth, defining the concept of grit. Every time I et discouraged, I listen again. It inspires me to remember that if I work hard–really hard–at improving my craft, I will be published one day.

She makes the point that:

there is really no domain of expertise where the world class performers have put in fewer than ten years of consistent, deliberate practice to get where they are.

Well, I’ve been writing on and off for about six years, so I guess that means I’ve got four more to go before I’ll reap the benefits of my efforts.

What that tells me is to keep at it. Keep trying, keep working hard, keep pushing past rejection to make myself better.

Aspiring authors, are you with me? Push up your sleeves and get some grit. Read educational books, join critique groups, and keep writing. We’ll get there ūüôā

I Can Do ALL Things


Meet my little self-proclaimed “Peacock Girl.”

Her beautiful spirit amazes me, and her fearlessness paralyzes me with terror. This child does not believe in obstacles. She creates, loves, dreams, and experiences with every fiber of her being. But most of all, she believes.

Philippians 4:13 has always been one of my favorite verses. 

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

But do I really believe that? Do you? All things? Or just some things?

I want to be a published writer. Not just of any fiction, but of Young Adult Christian Fiction. The edgy kind, where kids will look at it and say, “Yes. That’s me. I relate to that character, and I want her faith.”

I can write a lot of different genres. I suppose I’m lucky in that regard. But I want to move teenagers to find a faith that they embrace with¬†Hunger Games intensity.¬†

This past week, I received my first official rejection. Even though I expected it, it stings a little, because I’ve poured so much of myself into¬†Cavernous. I say I have no¬†intention of giving up. And yet, in the back of my mind, I have this little voice saying it’s impossible. One rejection, and it’s put a tiny dent into my belief.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about 2 Corinthians 5:7, and what it really means to “walk by sight.” It’s so easy to view the world through the misguided lenses of doubt and fear. Do I really trust God that He has a plan for my writing talent? Do I have the patience to let Him work through me?

Peacock Girl walks by faith because she doesn’t see those things that could stand in her way. She only sees the end game, and keeps her eyes on the goal. My goal in writing Christian Fiction is evangelism to a subset of our society who desperately need ministering.¬†

So I’ll press on, and I’ll pray. And I’ll get busy writing book two of the¬†Cavernous¬†series, because I believe it’s a message teens need to hear. If I can do ALL things, I can do this, too.¬†