When I was very young and my aspiration was to be an artist I asked Thomas Hart Benton for advice on how to succeed as a painter. His reply was one word: “Paint.”
At the time I thought he was being glib and didn’t value his advice. Now, many years later, I get his point and the soundness of his advice. If one is to succeed as an artist (writer, actor, whatever) perseverance is the essential ingredient.
At the conclusion of her wonderful book Write Away Elizabeth George says a writer who possesses talent, passion and discipline will be published. She further states the most important factor of the three is discipline.
“Lots of people want to have written; they don’t want to write,” she explains. “To reach that end (publication), you have to be willing just to set it aside, knowing that it may never happen at all but not much caring because it’s the writing that matters to you; it’s the mystery and magic of putting words on paper that are truly important.”
Or, as another writer we all know put it, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” (Stephen King in On Writing)
There you have it, a simple enough lesson. As the poet Henry Willard Austin expressed it:
Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes,
Is oft but perseverance in disguise.