Writing Essential: Sticktoitiveness

Sticktoitiveness; noun, dogged perseverance; resolute tenacity; also written, stick-to-it-ive-ness. Example: The only way she has published so many books is through stick-to-it-ive-ness; circa 1909; colloquial usage; Dictionary.com.

Stick-to-itiveness.* What a difference it makes with people and their goals. As well as being a writer, I’m a teacher. For a period of five years, I studied Self-Directed Learning in the Community College Classroom along with three of my colleagues. We found four types of students,  The Self-Directed Learner, the Compliant Learner, the Rebellious Learner, and the Passive Learner. The thing that distinguished the SDL was that he or she had goals and stick-to-itiveness. They cared less about the teacher’s goals than their own. The teacher was a resource to them. He or she was useful to the extent that he or she furthered the student’s goals. I’ll not discuss the others for the moment as I’m interested in success stories. We published our results in the League of Innovation for Community Colleges in 2008.

The SDL is not smarter, necessarily. What they  have are specific goals and the willingness to do whatever is needed to achieve them. If they encounter an obstacle, they look at it as a momentary problem. They keep going. When they graduate, they translate that skill to a job skill and are rewarded there.

Successful writers have the same attribute. They persist. They have stick-to-itiveness. Every writer I know has their time to write, their place, their favorite means, favorite music, etc. No one set of preferences is superior to another. They all have stick-to-itiveness.

I know a writer who has written one of the most readable books I have ever read. My nickname for him is The Bard, as in Shakespeare. His settings are believable. His characters true. His dialogue exact. Everything about his writing draws me in and keeps me reading. He wrote one book years ago. The one I’ve read, obviously, and sent it to a publisher. It was rejected. Since then, he has shown his book to a select few, but he will never send it to another editor.  He is on his second book now. That will never see the light of day either. He was stopped by one rejection.

When I was in graduate school I became enthralled with the question, Who is successful and who is not? I was looking at people who were equally motivated, according to self reports, and equally talented. Yet, some would succeed, and others would fail. The difference I found between the two is that the former would look at their failure/obstacles/barriers as temporary. They considered them no more than a bump in the road to success. The others, the failures, were crestfallen whenever they were stopped by something. They would despair and quit. The difference? Stick-to-itiveness.

*My word processor preferred the stick-to-itiveness version of this word.