What My Children Taught Me About Persistence

persistenceMy two year old daughter stands at my feet while I am speaking on the phone and repeatedly says, “Dad… dad, dad, daddy, dad,” until I am frustrated enough I finally burst out, “What??”

All parents have been in this situation. It could be a person you’re talking to at home, or the lady at the check-out line, but your child persists on getting the attention they feel they are entitled to by wearing out your name. But the child usually gets what they want — your attention! Eventually we succumb to their needs, and rightly so. Although we eventually teach them manners and the proper way to get our attention (hopefully), as adults we are trained naturally to be in tune with the needs of our children. One way to understand is to answer the distress call… their annoying and persistent pestering. Right?

The child learns that this method of persistence equals success.

My teenager wants to go to a friend’s house. He asks if he can go and I blurt out “no” without much thought. Instead of my teenager hanging his head, he asks again. Maybe this time he’s more careful with his tone and how to ask, adding in variations like “it will ONLY be for a little while” or “we’re JUST going to watch a movie.”

Even if I say no again, the chances of him asking (begging?) is still plausible the next time around. He’s a teenager trying to get what he wants.

I had read somewhere a few years ago that by asking repeatedly for something would automatically increase your odds of getting what you want. In other words, if someone says no, it really means maybe. If you ask again and provide more detail, your chances of them saying yes increases considerably. AND, even if you are told no a second time, if you persist and ask a third time, the person may simply decide to say yes on the simple merit that you’re being persistent and really want something badly enough.

I remember 16 years ago I went to apply for a job and was turned down for it. I walked in and asked for the job again. Even on the second try I was turned down. After feeling humiliated, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose and walked back in and asked for the job a third time. They gave me the job based on the fact that I really wanted the position.

Persistence works.

How does this tie into writing? Writing a novel is a big project and without practicing a whole lot of persistence there is a good chance you’ll throw up your arms and surrender. I have told many people that the key to accomplishing such a task is to get up every single day, be persistent, and write. Set daily goals. If you are waiting all week for the weekend to arrive so you can find a few hours to sit down and write, then you are not being persistent enough. Even if it’s a half-hour to an hour, if you are doing it daily and being persistent, you are on the right track.

If you fail to write on a given day, don’t give up. Try it again the next day, and the next. Keep doing it until your novel is done.

Think back to times when you had been persistent and it worked. Maybe it took 3 times before someone went on a date with you or someone finally agreed to tell you a secret.

Do you know any situations in your life where you asked several times for something and finally got it?

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