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Persistence as the Guide to the Creative Life

Persisting is a quality that needs to live in our creative work in order for it to thrive.

By Vivian Nesbitt | Posted June 1, 2007 | Updated October 30, 2019

Persistence is a quality that we equate to sports and business, or weight loss.

Lately I've been really aware of where persistence lives in my creative work. I am currently developing my skills as a writer of longer form pieces — and the one I'm working on at the moment is autobiographical. I was moved to do this out of the thought that there may have been some nugget of truth about myself that I may have left behind in the leafy compost of the past that seems to line the forest floor of my current life.

I committed to writing 750 words five days a week and with the help of creativity coach Eric Maisel, I blasted out of the gate writing well over a thousand words a day for the first two weeks. "This is great!" I thought, "I'll be finished before the end of summer!"

By the end of week four I found that I had to work pretty hard to write 850 words a day and that I noticed I was watching the word count at the bottom of the page… hmmm maybe I'm just distracted by work. Next week will be better. And week five? Profound silence. No movement toward the page, except an exciting effort at a grant proposal. Personal work was not happening.

Overcome with obstinacy I became unwilling to look inside my own mind and pan for that nugget of gold. A great fear had built up about looking back and writing it down. "I don't want to rehash all that stuff! I've moved on and am happy, joyous and free!" But the nugget has yet to be found and this is where persistence comes in.

Engaging in the act of writing five days a week allows me to look at how my choices have changed over the years — its not really the events, its how I have grown from the experience and what I am choosing now to live the creative life. This takes persistent adherence to the commitments I have made to myself. I get up at the same early hour each day and workout, I have my other good habits that over time I've persistently developed.

The creative habit is no less demanding. I read a great quote referencing a wonderful ancient truth in Wayne Dyer's book Inspiration: "Remember, the mighty oak tree was once a little nut that held its ground."

I may feel a little nuts as I persistently pursue my quest but if I hold my ground and let the root of my creativity take hold I suspect I may find that I am the nugget of gold. I'll let you know how it goes! And let us know what's happening in your creative life!

©2006 Vivian Nesbitt. All rights reserved.

Next: Swimming Deep in the Lake of the Creative Process

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Vivian NesbittVivian Nesbitt is co-host and co-producer of Art of the Song Coffeehouse with her husband John Dillon. ...