I am surrounded by exceptional women. Within my own writing group and among the spunky Wordbitches out west, I see plenty of examples of women who have achieved truly amazing goals. They have completed novels; they have run marathons; they have travelled the world; they have borne children.
So when I read the article about “true grit” in the April edition of Women’s Health magazine, I immediately thought about my writing girls. They all have what this article calls true grit, or the drive, persistence and fortitude required to set a goal and take all the steps necessary to achieve it.
What is true grit? If you’re a marathoner, it’s what keeps your legs pumping when all you want to do is collapse into a puddle of goo. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s what keeps you working when everyone says your idea is crazy. If you’re a writer, it’s what keeps you picking up your pen or starting up your computer everyday and wrestling with those voices in your head.
Writing a novel is an apt illustration of true grit because it is a long-haul kind of a project that requires passion, motivation, skill and persistence to finish.
Yes, I took the grit test. As I suspected, according to the experts, I don’t have true grit. (No surprise there. I’m notorious for starting up new projects and abandoning others.)
So what does that mean? That I’ll never finish a novel/paint the bathroom/start my own business? Since true grit, or stick-to-it-iveness, is a trait rather than a skill, I imagine experts would tell me not to quit my day job.
But I won’t despair. If I don’t have true grit, and I can’t learn it, I’m going to fake it. Here’s how:
Define my goals: And by this I mean both my long-term goal (e.g. to publish my novel by January 2013) and my performance goals (the milestones I need to reach to achieve my long-term goal, like writing 1,000 words each day for the next 6 months).
Visualize my finish line: Okay, it’s a bit on the woo-woo side of things, but picturing myself signing a contract with my newly minted agent or drawing an audience at a reading can’t hurt!
Commit to my goals: I have to make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Yes, SMART. And I have to work towards those goals like it was my job!
Practice, practice, practice: This means reading and writing constantly, even if I’m not working towards for a day’s specific word count. All writing counts, because it keeps me in the habit of writing daily.
Don’t stress about setbacks: If I miss a day, or there’s a snag along the way, all I can do is keep going. How I bounce back from setbacks is just as important as achieving success.
Lean on my support group: They’re the ones who motivate, inspire, cajole, harangue, entertain and teach me. I will look to their awesome examples to keep me progressing towards my goal.
Hmm, goal-setting, visualization exercises, commitment, hard work, and support. You know what? That looks pretty close to true grit to me.