Compare a successful nonfiction writer to an unsuccessful one, and, more often than not, you will find one difference: their level of tenacity. Successful writers possess the quality of tenacity. Specifically, writers who complete the challenge to start and finish a book in a month are a tenacious group.
High levels of tenacity more often than not lead to success. Why? Tenacious people don’t give up.
What exactly is tenacity? Most dictionaries describe it with such words as persistence, determination, perseverance, doggedness, strength of purpose, tirelessness, indefatigability, resolution, resoluteness, resolve, firmness, patience, purposefulness, staunchness, steadfastness, staying power, endurance, stamina, and stubbornness. You could call it grit as well.
In The Author Training Manual, I described tenacity is one of the four qualities, along with willingness, objectivity, and optimism, that comprise an Author Attitude. Here’s what I wrote:
To become an author, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to reach your goal. Determination, persistence, and perseverance carry you through to successful authorship, whether you are rewriting your manuscript, building author platform, submitting to the one hundredth agent, contacting the one thousandth reviewer, or writing the fiftieth blog post or press release about your book. You must have passion for your project and feel a sense of purpose. Every day you must show up eager to move forward, even if it is only by one small step or in spite of the challenges that have presented themselves.
You Need Tenacity to Finish a 30-Day Writing Challenge
At no time is tenacity more critical than when you face a deadline. To meet it, you must be unwilling to fail. You must be determined not to disappoint anyone…the person or organization that hired you, your readers, or yourself.
The closer you get to your deadline, however, the harder it can feel to finish on time. You may start to feel overwhelmed, pressured, stressed, and tired. You might look for ways out…reasons to postpone finishing your writing project.
When you decide to write a book in 30 days, you take on a deadline: start and finish your first draft in a month. If you participate in any of the numerous November writing events, like the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, aka National Nonfiction Writing Month, you do so knowing you have committed to finishing your project by midnight on November 30.
But the last few days of the month can seem the hardest. Like any other deadline, you may find yourself seeking an extension. Without tenacity, you are likely to say, “I can finish this next month.”
Don’t Give Yourself Permission to Quit
With that type of thinking, you let yourself off the hook. And if you let yourself off the hook once, you’ll let yourself off the hook again…and again…and again.
Once you give yourself that extension—“I’ll finish my WNFIN Challenge project in December,” you increase the chances that the project won’t get finished at all. More than likely, you won’t finish next month…if ever.
Why? Because once you tell yourself, it’s okay to miss your deadline and not finish on time, you give yourself permission to do the same in the future. Before you know it, missing deadlines becomes a habit—especially self-imposed ones.
So don’t give yourself permission to quit. Instead, recommit to your goal—finishing a book in a month.
How to Increase Your Tenacity Level
A long time ago, I took on a will-strengthening challenge suggested by the late author and teacher Stuart Wilde. To complete this challenge, I had to get up at 5 a.m. every day for a month and do a mindless and meaningless task. I chose to remove books from a bookshelf and place them back on the shelves again. (My husband moved rocks from one side of the yard to the other and back again.)
To increase your tenacious nature, you need to increase your willpower. When you have a strong will to do something, you become determined, persistent, and dogged about the tasks you take on. You feel committed to them.
However, the more meaningful a task is to you, the more tenaciously you will approach it. The more that task aligns with your sense of purpose as a writer or person, the more likely you are to take consistent action toward meeting your goal. And you will be less likely to give up.
So why bother with a meaningless task like the books and bookshelf one I described above? When you consciously commit to doing something consistently that has no meaning or purpose, you increase your ability to do something that does have meaning and purpose. You strengthen your will, which increases your tenacious nature.
But you don’t have to start moving books or rocks. You can, instead, choose to do something meaningful and purposeful, like getting up at 5 am and writing every morning for an hour.
Develop Tenacity at the End of a Writing Challenge
There’s no better time to develop your will and tenacity then when a big deadline approaches. As the WNFIN Challenge, for example, comes to a close, now is the time to dig in and commit (or re-commit) to your goal of writing a book in 30 days.
Choose a new action you will take every day until the end of the month no matter what—one that helps you meet your deadline. Stick to it! Don’t let yourself off the hook. Do whatever it takes to complete your project. (Yes…whatever it takes.)
A 30-Day Writing Challenge Becomes a Writing Habit
Then continue that new action into the next month. For example, continue to get up at 5 a.m. and write daily in December. Do this no matter what…until it becomes a habit. Then keep going…every month of the year.
Don’t allow yourself to let up…instead push yourself to level up.
If you can write a book (or any other piece of nonfiction) during the 30 days of November, you can do that every month. You can be that productive all the time. In fact, you’ve proved that you can write more than you thought you could.
When you meet one deadline, you prove to yourself that you can meet the next one. So, after your 30-day writing challenge set a new deadline for the next month…and the next. Continue to push yourself and increase your tenacity level.
Once you have a high degree of tenacity, you can meet any deadline or goal. And you’ll find it much easier to succeed as a writer and author.
If you struggle to meet your goals and deadlines, and you know it is impacting your ability to succeed as a writer, click here. The next High-Performance Writer Group Coaching session. begins in January. Take advantage of the early early-bird special and save $100 if you register in November!
How will you increase your tenacity? Tell me in a comment below.
Take the Challenge!
To learn more about how to take the WNFIN Challenge and participate in NaNonFiWriMo, click here.
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