Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may have noticed that I am a bit of a psychology nerd. I am fascinated by what makes people tick and why some people persevere through awful circumstances and others are defeated. I also have a somewhat morbid fascination with what makes people go very, very wrong. I read books about personality development, I am an obsessive TED talk watcher, and I listen to podcasts like Criminal. I also read books about behavioral economics and listen to podcasts likes Freakonomics, which brings me to my thoughts for today.

While I was listening to the May 4th episode of Freakonomics about How To Get More Grit In Your Life, I was struck by how much grit is important to having a productive writing career.

Angela Duckworth, the author of the new Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, describes the four traits that gritty people have as interest, practice, purpose, and hope. These are all things that a writer (insecure or not) need to have in order to slog on with a writing career.

  • interest – An author needs to have a passion for story telling and words. Without the spark of interest, none of us would have gotten this far as writers. This part of grit is fairly easy for writers; we have passion galore.
  • practice – What Duckworth is talking about here is deliberate practice or “using good feedback to focus on specific techniques that will lead to real improvement.” By that I mean the  get-up-every-morning-before-dawn-and-sit-in-front-of-the-computer kind of practice. Those of you that make yourselves write 500, 1000, or 2000 words every day no matter what else is going on in your life know what deliberate practice is. This is an attribute many writers develop along the way, usually after the excitement of a first book wears off and they start to get really serious about their writing career. 
  • purpose – or “connecting your work to people that are not you.” A gritty writer is motivated to keep practicing and improving because they want to share their work with the world. 
  •  hope – This is the optimism that keeps us going after months or years of rejection and through draft after draft. 

Duckworth’s book has made me look at my writing career a little differently. Her theory of grit helps me see the value of getting up before dawn and staring at my computer screen day and after day deliberate practice, rather than self-flagellation. When I’m feeling insecure, I can tell myself that each morning’s work is training me for something better.

Do you listen to podcasts? Which one’s are your favorites? Do you find them helpful in your life?


Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group. The purpose of the group is to share and encourage each other to express our doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds, so consider joining the group.