The Key to Writing (And Everything Else)

Looking back on my freshman year, I can see one overarching lesson entwined in every course. This first year taught me the meaning of perseverance, and more importantly, that I can persevere. I found that not only can I keep on when I feel like quitting, I can keep on for months when I feel like quitting. I can manage all the assignments even though I don’t like them all. I can will myself to get things done.

Why then do writers think they need to wait for inspiration to finish their creative works? I’ve seen for myself now that I can force my focus onto a creative task and make it happen, whether or not I initially felt creative. Moods don’t have to matter, even for a creative person. Creating is work, too.

This reminds me of a moment from last fall in my digital media course. Before this class, I’d never used Google Chat (simplest thing in the world to use, turns out). I was supposed to use chat for one of my assignments, so I emailed my professor to ask if I could bypass chat because I wasn’t familiar with it. The response?

Get familiar with Google chat.”

Oh. Well, okay.

And I was familiar with it a minute later. In the same way, if I wasn’t in the mood to do a school assignment before it was due, I got in the mood. And now, if I’m not in the mood to write, you know what I do? I get in the mood!

The lesson of perseverance appeared in my calculus class as well. If I may borrow a good quote from the syllabus of one math professor:

After teaching thousands of students, I can say that, while innate intelligence and “firepower” are wonderful assets, the successful students in Calculus (and maybe even college, work, life, etc) are those who persevere, apply due diligence, and generally show up and do the homework.”

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