Thursday, May 20, 2010

You Can Do Hard Things

Okay, so yesterday we discussed getting to 100%. I agree that sometimes the 100% shifts and moves as you learn and grow. I mean, it certainly has for me. My 100% last year is certainly not my 100% now.

But it doesn't matter. Because I can continue to do hard things.

Here's a couple of hard things I've done:

  • Writing a novel.
  • Writing a query letter.
  • Querying.
  • Getting rejected.
  • Dancing. (See clip here.)
There are a lot of hard things in the world. But you know what? This is something I tell my students all the time.

You can do hard things.

So yeah. That's all. I hope I can be the voice in your head if you're struggling with something today, tomorrow or whenever.

What do you think? What's something hard that you've done? Can you do hard things? What makes you think you can/can't?

75 comments:

Jen said...

Writing a novel. There are points in the process where you feel like nothing looks right, you'll never finsih and you ultimately feel defeated, but then there is that triumph for when you've actually reached the goal!

Just proves that the hard things I worth fighting for!

Aubrie said...

My hard thing: continuing to query after so many rejections.

You're right, we can and should do hard things!

salarsenッ said...

'K, certainly writing my novel and pushing ahead has been the hardest--excluding the whole giving-birth-to-four-children thing.

But my other major "I can't believe I did that" was when I climbed a rock wall!! I was so excited that I forgot to loosen my tension on the rope on the way down. Ouch. I had rope burn on the inside of my arm forever.

But 'the hard' was way worth it.

lynnrush said...

Yep. It's a challenge to do hard things, but yes, they can be done. You can do anything with a little faith and dedication.

So, press on, my friends.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Writing my novel was not a hard thing. It was an exhilirating thing. Writing the query letter and rewriting it again and again is the hard thing. And as Aubrie says, sending it out again after rejection is the hardest thing of all.

MissV said...

Hey! Most of us are MOM's. It doesn't get harder than that. If you can be a mom and deal with the frustration, worry, heartache, writing is a piece of cake in comparison!

Kara said...

Writing can be hard, especially with little ones underfoot. But giving birth to those three little ones, now that was a challenge. I think I can do just about anything now:)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Hardest thing I've done? Write a query letter. By far, the most trouble I've had with words in a long time. Actually, scratch that..
One time I had this really good story going. First person, something I hadn't done before, and the MC was snarky and fun to read. Seriously, I can say this without pride because it was like it wasn't me writing the book at all.
Then I threw it away.
Yup, hardest thing ever. But sometimes it's what you have to do, and I knew that the story wasn't what it needed to be - it was a story I needed to sit on, to wait with, and then start over. But no, that wasn't enough, I had to actally throw it away. As in, only copy goes in the garbage can.
Turns out, it was the right thing to do. I'm rewriting it now, four years later, but with a slight shift in the plot that was absolutely necessary, and never would've occured to me until it was too late. Yeah, that was hard. :)

Matthew Rush said...

OMG I wanna watch that video clip so bad!

Argg! I have to wait until I get home.

Good point though Elana, any of us who have even written a first draft of a novel should be proud. It's damn hard work.

Anna said...

Writing/revising can be hard, but right now I think waiting is the hardest thing for me. Waiting and hoping and waiting some more. I try to keep busy, but that only works to a certain point. Okay back to waiting, er, I mean writing...

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Hard things suck. (Wait, that sounded dirty.)

But you're right, nothing is impossible. Especially if we believe and do it with heart.

Adam Heine said...

Yes! We do hard things!

DL Hammons said...

I walked into our local writers group for the first time and declared,"I'm a writer!"

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I think you know the answer to that. Thanks to you yesterday, I think I'm going to be able to do that hard thing.

And in reality, it's easier than bungy jumping when you're terrified of heights. :D

I have something today on my blog for you.

I'm off to do some more happy dancing for someone I know. ;)

L.J. Boldyrev said...

Hard things. Come to think of it I've done quite a few. I moved to NYC after living 20 years of country life. I got married and I've kept an awesome relationship with him five years and two kids later. I had kids (really hard, lol!)! And I've written a novel! More than one, but right now only one I am super proud of. Wewt!

Go team hard stuff!

Elana, you shall be in my head today as I revise.

Candyland said...

First-great dancing:)
Second, you're the voice in my head more than you know (is that creepy?!). I try to ignore the ugly doubt and hear you. Try, I say.

Alli said...

Learning Spanish as an adult and climbing some of the world's tallest mountains were pretty hard. And I have to put writing a kick-a** query letter in that same "hard" basket!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Dancing is definitely harder than writing a novel!

Rachele Alpine said...

I'm finding it hard right now to write my next book while my first is on submission. The waiting is killing me (and my motivation). It's hard to want to put all your energy into a new book when you are waiting to hear if someone wants the first one. But I'm doing it (about 80 pages in), and I'll keep moving forward!

JustineDell said...

I agree with your hard things. I've done them to. Except the dancing...errr...I'm not a dancer.

I think what's harder than writing and querying is rewriting and editing. I've rewritten the ending of my novel 3 times (and thank god the beta approved this last one...the one I totally did from scratch). Now it's off to the less hard thing: querying.

~JD

Janet Johnson said...

It always feels like a bigger accomplishment when you did something that was hard. That took concerted effort.

Thanks for the words of encouragement!

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Here, here! Oh, man it's great to remember that we can do the hard stuff. I'm neck-deep in it this week, on my WRITE LIKE YOU'RE ON FIRE challenge. The writing isn't so hard; turns out the not making the goal word count by my deadline has been the difficult thing for me - understanding that I just have to write at the speed I'm capable of. (Of course, procrastinating for a few hours before the writing really sets in is ALSO a hard thing to combat. But I'm getting there! Thanks for the inspiration!

Christine Fonseca said...

Yeah...I can do hard things! And Dude...that video..HYSTERICAL!

Kelly said...

I am finding that revising my chapter book into an mg (at the advice of an agent) is harder than writing the first draft. Even though it is a challenge, I can do it!
Queries are tough too. But a relief when they are done.
Seriously, the hardest thing I have ever done was the first month of having my first newborn. I was sleep deprived and I kept second guessing myself if I was doing things right. But I got through it and motherhood became the best thing ever.

Cassandra Frear said...

I'm doing some hard things, have done some hard things -- like homeschooling my sons through high school, double surgery, rennovating an old house, etc.

But here's my quandary. When is it too much? How much hard is more than we can handle? And can we expand our ability to juggle more than one hard thing at the time?

I know. If you had the answers to these questions, you'd be in counseling. LOL

Holly Dodson said...

I love these inspirational posts! The hardest thing I've done? Walk away from an abusive husband with a newborn. Yeah, nothing compares to that. And I thank God every day that I found the guts to do it.

Kristi Helvig said...

Writing a first draft of my novel was pretty easy. Revising it to the point of being a polished novel - hardest thing I've ever done. In fact, I'm still not sure it's ready 7 months later!

Jaydee Morgan said...

I know for a fact that I can accomplish hard things in life - and have. Knowing that does keep me going when the writing gets tough. I think that's a good thing to remember :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Keeping on revising my novel when I wished it was done was hard, including 2 more revisions since November. Also, my first Court of Appeals oral argument last summer when I was petrified. Doing these kind of hard things, especially ones I'm petrified of doing, gives me the faith that I can do the new hard things I'll have to face.

Lisa said...

My hard thing right now? Yeah, learning how to tweak my blog. All that code, yikes! I'm determined though, and am taking it one day at at time. I will succeed!

Steena Holmes said...

Such a true post! Thanks Elana!

Amie B said...

i cleaned 3 toilets yesterday. that was hard. hmmmm...on second thought that was disgusting.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Just developing an online presence seemed hard to me. But now that I'm doing it, the whole thing seems easy.

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

I wonder if you truly understand how great your posts are...

You seem to hit the nail on the head every time you enter a subject.

You are so right about the hard things. We can still do them and move on to the next one.

Thank you as always for a great morning wake up!

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Jane Harmony said...

Thanks Elana, this is encouraging! I've actually *done* some hard things...it's knowing that I can accomplish them that's the most difficult for me. So thank you.

Alison Eckel said...

I was just talking to a friend the other day about making our kids to hard things because when you grow up life is hard, and you want your kids to know they can do hard things. They can overcome it.

The problem is making your kids do hard things ... is REALLY hard!! Your instinct is to protect and help. But I can do it. If I can write a novel and sludge my way through the query writing process, I can make my kids do hard things.

Heather Kelly said...

Birthed two children with no pain meds. Ran long distance. Rowed crew. Held up my family through crisis. Mothering a child with sensory integration issues. Worked with multi-handicapped adolescents. Worked with violent and abused adolescents. Man. I gravitate towards the HARD things. Writing a book=no sweat. (SO JUST KIDDING!!) :) Thanks, Elana. I continue to get just what I need at your blog.

PJ Hoover said...

Sweet post, Elana! I believe you can do hard things and you can do things you are afraid of. And for us to totally grow, we have to do both.

Connie said...

I always tell my kids, "If it's not hard, it's probably not worth doing."

It's the hard things that teach us the most about who we are and give us the courage to never give up. 99% of life is perseverance.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I can do hard things. The victories in those accomplishments are much sweeter, aren't they?

Jonathon Arntson said...

Wait, so you're the voice in my head?!?! And all this time I thought...oh, never mind.

Abby Stevens said...

Your blog is such an inspiration, Elana. I hope you are very proud of it, because you should be. :)

Slamdunk said...

Good topic. I think this is a difficult message to digest, primarily due to a fear of failure. Once it is understood that failing is often part of the process, the fear can be managed better.

Carolyn V. said...

We can do the hard things! Whoop!

I'm almost done with school. I had to go back with people twenty years younger than me - it was hard (okay, not quite twenty, but close enough) but I'm almost there! Yay! =)

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I've never gone the easy way in my life (which is pretty funny considering I have zero self confidence). I started college at 16, even though counselors told me I was too young. I applied to USC film school even though the transfer center laughed at me and told me not to bother. I walked away from Hollywood because I didn't love it enough, even though lots of people thought I failed. And now I'm trying to sell an untraditional MG novel. Yep. I think I might be a masochist. :)

Nichole Giles said...

I do lots of hard things. See my Friday blog, well, on Friday. Tomorrow.

But I have to say, Elana, I'm still in shock. I didn't know you could move like that. You're a fantastic dancer!

Mary McDonald said...

Performing CPR on infants and children...that's about the hardest thing I've ever done.

I went through respiratory school while pregnant, had a c-section and went back four weeks later so I wouldn't miss too many clinicals. First day back, I got to watch a c-section.

Jojomama said...

Hit by a car as a toddler, sent to wilderness academy as a teen (a month in the snow--and I'm from Cali) moved out of my parents as a junior in HS,lived in poverty a time or two,went to university out of the country, lost forty pounds, had 3 babies, stood strong while one of them almost died and has had repeated surgeries...I'm strong. I can do hard things. A novel? Check. Revising it and my query.Check. Rejection? What's new? I say, bring it.

lisanowak said...

Sometimes I feel like all I do is hard things! I have a motto, Never Surrender. It dates back to the Cory Hart song of the same title back in the mid-80s. When I was racing, I used it to help myself keep going.

One thing about doing the hard things consistently is that the people around you seem to think that those things are easy for you. They equate your willingness to muscle through with the idea that somehow you don't suffer the way they do. Which is pure BS and ticks me off to no end. One, it demeans your efforts, and two, it's a cop-out.

Krispy said...

You're right. I can totally do hard things. When did I start to think that I couldn't? I don't know why I keep forgetting that I have and can. Thanks! :)

Elana Johnson said...

Connie -- I love that! I've had to tell my son that not everything he does is going to come naturally. He wants to sit down and play the piano brilliantly the first time through a piece. It doesn't happen. I think once we realize that hard things take work, we accept the fact that we have to work. Funny about that... :)

Great comments today, guys! Right now, one of my hardest things is going to work and doing testing for hours on end. I might go insane. Thanks for the mental health refresher!

j.m. neeb said...

Going to my first writers group was a hard thing for me (as a shy introvert)... but I've grown so much as a writer from doing it!

Sometimes the hard things help us grow.

Piedmont Writer said...

I built a fence by myself, that was pretty hard. I moved cross country by myself (twice) that was pretty hard. I started my own company (three times) that was pretty hard. I wrote a book, that was really hard. And then I queried, that was the hardest thing of all.

Angie said...

That is a great motto to live by. I just keep reminding myself of all the hard things I've already accomplished. (Love the dancing video. Seriously.)

Shannon said...

Great reminder, Elana.

My dad is a great champion of this philosophy. Every time I whine to him about something being hard he tells me, "If it were easy, everyone would do it. Now set your mind to it and I know you will accomplish it." And you know what? He's right!

Wootles.

Shannon

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks for the pep talk.

For the last two years, I've been trying to do hard things. I took martial arts even though I'm unbalanced and uncoordinated. I've been showing my work to anyone with a pulse, even though it terrifies me (though not so much anymore). I started a blog even though I worried nobody would care. And I keep writing, submitting, and repeating.

I'm a masochist. As are all writers.

kathrynjankowski said...

Love the JibJab video!
Yeah, it's the hard things that keep us challenged and I'm good with that. Who wants to get stale? ;-)

Sara B. Larson said...

I think life is made up of figuring out how to do hard things. For every stage we're at, there is something (usually many things) that are hard to do, overcome, or learn. The only way to succeed and be happy though is to press on doing, overcoming, and learning. Writing is no different. Writing a book is hard. Getting rejected is hard. Waiting is hard. Revising can be hard. So why do the hard things? The harder something is to accomplish, I think the success is only that much sweeter.

Kelly H-Y said...

I can do them ... depending on what it is, there may be a lot of perspiration and knotted-stomach leading up to it, but I'll do them!

Kaylie said...

Sure I can do hard stuff. Doesn't mean I always want to...But I think every time you do something difficult, it gives you more courage for the next time.

Lisa_Gibson said...

Love the Jib-Jab video! lol There's a big difference between ability and desire. ;) After going through a divorce and raising a kiddo with no support, I CAN do lots of hard things. Do I WANT to do them...not always. But knowing you're able makes a big difference sometimes.

Jocelyn Devon said...

Yeah I did something hard today I've never done before. I pitched to an agent.

Liza said...

Thank you for this post that reminded me of all the unbearably hard things I have done NOT related to writing. Yes, I can do hard things...so, I'm off to do some more.

Elle Strauss said...

Yes, I can!

*now back to that wip*

Jemi Fraser said...

I tell my students this all the time! Hard things are doable - they're just ... hard.

I've always kind of like challenges. Depending on the challenge.

Portia said...

The hardest thing I've done this week is write my one-sentence pitch. I know I *can* do it, but I feel like it's taking entirely too much time!

Karen Lange said...

It is nice to know that you've done hard things; it gives courage to do more hard stuff when we have to. So many days I don't feel like being the big grownup person, but alas, I must:) Thanks for cheering us on.

Lydia Kang said...

The vid clip was awesome!!!!

What was the question?

Jackee said...

You are an inspiration, my friend. I walk five miles/day and a friend of mine who suffers from depression and weight issues came with me yesterday. She was having a hard time keeping up and I told her about you, quoted how you say "You can do hard things" and I think it really helped her! She made it the whole way and will be back for more torture... er... exercise tomorrow. We never know what we have in ourselves until we get out of our comfort rings.

Something hard I've done: overcome my fear of heights by doing every high thing I can think of.

Thanks, Elana! Now I'm off to check the dancing video...

Jan Markley said...

To quote Natalie Goldberg in Wild Mind Living the Writer's Life she says writers should: "Let everything run through us and grab as much as we can of it with a pen and paper."

Kris said...

Elana - Great post. We know we can do hard things, cause we've done them. It's remembering we've done them when we have to do them again that gets tricky. I still can't believe I wrote a pitch that attracted an agent's eye. And I'm finishing a novel that's more than 65K words. And I will finish the revisions, and query more agents, and publish it! The power of positive thinking! Thanks!

madeleinerex.com said...

Very encouraging words!

One hard thing I've done in the past year: Written a novel at age fourteen. I have to admit, I'm kind of proud of myself. :D

However, this Saturday, the edits begin...

Palindrome said...

I can always do hard things!(hehe, that's what she said)

I try to challenge myself every day. I don't like it when I can't do something so I push myself, try new things, set impossible deadlines for myself and reward myself with a glazed donut when I succeed.

That JibJab video had me a-rollin!!

AchingHope said...

Aw, thanks. I actually really needed to hear that right now.

A hard thing I've done: Finished two novels in a year
A hard thing I need to do: Revise five novels in a year.

Oh, and I haven't been keeping up with your blog *hangs head in shame* because I can only take so much awesome at a time. I am working at boosting my ability to contain awesomeness, so hopefully I can lurk around here more often.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I survived and got out of a bad relationship and I'm raising for terrific sons. So, you're right. I can do hard stuff. Write on!

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