I’ve always known about phrases like, ‘never give up!’ in relation to writing. What I find interesting is how this may not be motivating at all as we feel different to the people who ‘got there’ through persistence with their writing. It’s like they have something we don’t.
Your finish line may be a year or two away. It may ‘feel’ impossible. The approach of ‘never give up’ isn’t just about, sticking at it. I work with plenty of writers who are writing – therefore supposedly, sticking at it – but this writing is fraught, haphazard.
Persistence is also about refusing to part with the belief that you can write. But often, the belief isn’t there in the first place. We’re writing, yet even from the start, we don’t think it’s possible. We can’t imagine anyone actually reading our work. If we persist from this perspective, how can it end well? It means we never give up on the idea that we’ll never make it.
I’m thinking of my yoga practice, now and the fact that for a decade I wrote off my ability to ever manage a headstand, even though this didn’t stop me wanting to be able to do it. This conflict is so common with writing that it’s considered normal. It’s one of the main drives I have as a Mindset Coach and getting my work out there. Yes, I want to continue my career – obviously! – but I have absolute faith in the benefits, and I strive to make them available to anyone who wants to write yet doesn’t believe they can.
The mind acts like a projector – displaying ‘life’ on the screen before us. If we’re persisting in the attitude of ‘I don’t believe I can achieve success as a writer’, then what we see on the screen is that very thing. We see all the times we’re not writing. We see others achieving their writing dreams and it looks easy – the equivalent of flicking a pea across the table. Our own efforts feel like carrying a whale across marshy land and getting nowhere. This is because we’re persisting in the belief we won’t make it as a writer, rather than persisting with our writing!
A good way to test where you’re persisting from is how you feel about the phrase, ‘never give up!’ Do you feel inspired? Or does the thought of never giving up fill you with dread at the thought of having to carry that whale forever?
The shift occurs when we open our mind to accept that the version of life that we’re seeing on the screen in front of us, is only one version. We look at it, and ask: what is this telling me about the state of my mind?
This isn’t to say that a bolt of lightning flashes across the sky and suddenly everything is perfect. But what it does mean is that you have a chance of re-thinking how you want to see your potential. This will give your persistence a new quality.
This summer, I got around to the fact that I was persisting in holding back my headstand potential by refusing to give up on the belief I’d never be able to do it!
‘Look,’ I said to myself. ‘I know you want to be able to do a headstand.’
I focused regularly on seeing myself in that pose I’d coveted for so long. I observed how my mind began to persist in a different way. I love this about my work! I could see how it was figuring out how I was now going to make it happen. I started practising. I felt a little braver each time. A few weeks ago, I lifted my legs up into my first, unsupported headstand. Persistence does work when we ensure we are persisting from the right frame of mind.