“Never, never, never, never give up!”
“Don’t give up, keep talking, and eventually,
you might hit a nerve.”
“Don’t quit, can’t fail.” This saying captures the true value of persistence: if we simply don’t quit, then failure is impossible. This four-word mantra was coined by one of the callers of my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert’s Success Hotline (973.743.4690) — and it’s worth jotting down on a piece of paper and sticking in front of your nose wherever you do your writing.
A perfect example of this mantra in action: Sly Stallone’s creation of Rocky Balboa. In 1975, Sly saw a fight that inspired the idea for the character of a feisty, but down-and-out fighter who battled to achieve his unrealized dreams. The night after watching the fight, he went home and in three days wrote the script for Rocky. At the time, he was down and out himself, with only $106.00 to his name. On the way out of a casting call, he happened to mention to two producers that he’d written a script. It was 90 pages, and only 10% or so of the original story survived, but he had a script.
The producers liked it, but were thinking Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, or maybe Ryan O’Neill, as the lead. But Sly refused to sell. The producers offered him $25,000, then $100,000, then $150,000, then $250,000 — and finally $360,000 for the script. Even though he was still broke and a total unknown, Sly turned it all down because he wanted to play Rocky. Eventually, the producers gave in. Sly was paid $20,000; after expenses, he made about $6,000. But he had the last laugh: He became a huge star and the Rocky series went on to make $1 billion.
So take a tip from Sly and Rocky: Write dangerously — and stick to your guns!