“Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.”
I keep this quote on my desk where I see it every day. Rain or shine, good day or bad, it reminds me that when I really stretch myself, when I push past the inevitable moments of confusion or discouragement about what I’m trying to accomplish, there’s a hidden treasure waiting for me: just the right word, a sentence I’ll cherish, a paragraph that finally flows seamlessly from one thought to another.
Push through or quit: often, we face this choice at several points during our writing day. Quitting isn’t always about the big things. It isn’t always about abandoning a project that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into, but that just isn’t working or has missed its moment. Quitting can also be about something seemingly small and unimportant: settling halfheartedly for a word that doesn’t quite work – that’s OK, but not great. Or seeing that two sentences are jostling each other instead of sitting cozily side by side – and deciding to leave them that way.
Resisting the “I quit!” impulse when it hits us isn’t easy, especially when it involves giving up in small ways that don’t seem to matter. What difference does it make, we ask ourselves, if that one word isn’t quite right or if we can’t seem to get that will-o’-the-wisp idea floating in our head down on the page?
But it does matter. Effort isn’t about perfection, it’s about persistence. It’s about bringing the best we have to offer to our work, even in the little things. That’s what prepares us for the big moments: for writing dangerously. When the effort we put in outstrips our impulse to give up or give less than our best, that’s when the magic happens: our work rewards us. We find the hidden treasure.