October 26, 2017

Writer Strengths: How Do You Persevere?

#WritersPersevere logo with text: Challenges are everywhere, but we are writers...and writers persevere.

Perseverance is an important trait among writers. The reasons why are obvious if we check out the definition:

“to persist…in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement” (Merriam-Webster)

“continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success” (Google)

“to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly” (

As writers, no matter the climb up the learning curve, we continue to push ourselves, to learn new skills, to strengthen our craft—despite the potential discouragement, lack of support, and small chance of success.

We might need to persevere through writer’s block, query rejections, poor sales, and promo expenditures that don’t earn back. We might need to persevere even though our friends or family aren’t as supportive as we’d like. We might need to persevere through life’s chaos that eats up our writing time or makes finances difficult.

And through all that, we persevere. It’s enough to make us realize how awesome writers are. *smile*

Let’s Talk Mental/Emotional Wounds

Sometimes perseverance refers to physical struggles, but for writers, we’re often referring to mental or emotional struggles. In fact, during our career, we probably become experts at persevering despite… Whatever.

Those of you who follow my blog might have heard about my horror stories of health issues over the past year and a half: a half-dozen surgeries, a dozen rounds of antibiotics, debilitating side effects (not being able to walk, or barely move), not-one-but-two antibiotic-resistant infections—and no solutions.

I used to jokingly answer the question “Jami, how do you do it all?” with “I flail randomly. I don’t recommend it.” But after all these problems (and not enough spoons), my feeling now is that my flailing is an attempt to not only juggle everything on my plate but also tread water—while I’m drowning. Every day I don’t drown is a success…on some level. Yay?

Yet despite all that, I’m still running my blog twice a week (with a lot more guest-posting help—thank you, guest posters!), I edited and released one book, and I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo starting next week. That’s not heroic, just an example of perseverance.

I won’t be “winning” NaNo by getting 50K words in, but any words are better than no words. That’s what perseverance is all about—continuing the best we can even though things are difficult.

You probably have similar experiences of persevering despite something—because that’s life. So it’s no surprise that the characters we create must learn to persevere despite hardships as well.

The WHW #WritersPersevere Event!

To help us develop those struggling characters, over at Writers Helping Writers, the wonderful Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi behind the Emotion Thesaurus book and the One Stop for Writers site have just released their newest addition to their Thesaurus collection—The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma.

This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward. To help them celebrate this release, many of us are posting stories about some of the obstacles we’ve overcome as writers.

Despite frequent discouragement, #WritersPersevere, and we are stronger for it. Click To TweetAs we all know, this isn’t an easy path. Writing is hard, and as writers, we tend to struggle with doubt.

So people are sharing their stories this week about how they worked through their challenges to keep writing, and I wanted to post about it as well because your encouragement has meant so much to me throughout my struggles. Many of you reached out and shared your frustrations with your own struggles, and sometimes just knowing that we’re not alone and others are there with us in the trenches can help.

Although I wish I didn’t have to go through all the crap I’ve experienced lately, it’s also meant a lot to me for Angela and Becca to highlight an important aspect of overcoming difficult circumstances: It can make us stronger. It never hurts to have that reminder. *smile*

"I've been exploring backstory wounds for decades. This emotional guide adds depth to your characters, meaning to your plots, and promises richer, truer, and more stirring stories." ~ Martha Alderson, author of the best-selling Plot Whisperer books

To mark their new release, they’re celebrating the perseverance of writers. In the words of Angela:

Hi everyone! When you set out to find examples of inner strength, you don’t have to go very far. Right here in the writing community we see it every day. Writers more than anyone understand the swirl of emotions as we work toward publication.

We dream of making it and seeing our books in the hands of readers…yet doubt and frustration can be a constant companion. For us, there is a lot to learn, much to steel our nerves for, and unfortunately, a host of real-world problems that can try to derail us. And, even as we slowly move forward and grow, we can sometimes feel like impostors. This is a tough road.

But the fact that writers face this battle, day after day, and KEEP GOING…this should be celebrated! We need to be reminded that we are much stronger than we sometimes believe. We dream, create, and force ourselves to keep striving. Through the ups and downs, we persevere!

“The Emotional Wound Thesaurus looks at the hardships our characters face. So, we want to celebrate the courage and strength of writers who face difficulties and overcome obstacles as they pursue publication. As we all know, this career is not easy. We often doubt and struggle. … Sometimes reading someone’s story of perseverance is just what we need to keep our own feet on the path!”

The WHW #WritersPersevere Giveaway!

As part of their release celebration, they’re also running a big event under the hashtag #WritersPersevere to fill social media with our stories of strength, complete with an awesome giveaway!

WHW: Celebrates Writer Perseverance with an Epic Giveaway!

Join Becca and me at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance.

We also have a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost, so stop by Writers Helping Writers. I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

If you struggle, remember to reach out to others. We are in this together, and by supporting one another, we cross the finish line together (and then keep going!).

Happy writing!
Angela & Becca”

The giveaway is open only through October 27th, so enter ASAP. And don’t forget to share this post using the #WritersPersevere hashtag so more prizes will be awarded!

More about The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma:

Understanding the Psychological Impact of a Character’s Past Pain

Readers connect to characters with depth, ones that have experienced life’s ups and downs. To bring realistic, compelling characters to the page, writers must know them intimately—not only who they are in the present story, but also what made them that way. Of all the formative experiences in a character’s past, none are more destructive than emotional wounds. The aftershocks of trauma can change who they are, alter what they believe, and sabotage their ability to achieve meaningful goals, all of which will affect the trajectory of your story.


Identifying the backstory wound is crucial to understanding how it will shape your character’s behavior, and The Emotional Wound Thesaurus can help. Inside, you’ll find:

  • A database of traumatic situations and events common to the human experience
  • An in-depth study on a wound’s impact, including the fears, lies, personality shifts, and dysfunctional behaviors that can arise from different types of trauma
  • An extensive analysis of character arc and how the wound and any resulting unmet needs fit into it
  • Techniques on how to show the past experience to readers in a way that is both engaging and revelatory while avoiding the pitfalls of info dumps and telling
  • A showcase of popular characters and how their traumatic experiences reshaped them, leading to very specific story goals
  • A Backstory Wound Profile tool that will enable you to document your characters’ negative past experiences and their aftereffects

Root your characters in reality by giving them an authentic wound that causes difficulties and prompts them to strive for inner growth to overcome it. With its easy-to-read format and over 100 entries packed with information, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus is a crash course in psychology for creating characters that feel real to readers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads

I can’t wait to dig into this book. All of the stuff we’ve heard about backstory wounds, fears, and false beliefs for developing our characters and their arcs is in here. *grin*

Each wound entry includes:

  • examples of causes
  • how this wound could affect the character’s needs
  • the false beliefs they might embrace
  • what they may fear
  • how they might respond
  • personality traits that might form
  • triggers that might aggravate
  • opportunities to face or overcome the wound, etc.

Sample Entry: Accidentally Killing Someone

If you want a taste of the insights we can gain from this level of information, check out some of the posts Angela and Becca have written about emotional wounds and how we can use them to develop our characters more deeply:

Welcome to the Thesaurus family, Emotional Wound book! *grin*

6 Thesaurus books

See? Writers are the best. *smile* In the words of Angela and Becca, “It’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.”

Have you encountered something on the writing road that made you question yourself? Have you faced an obstacle that required a force of will to get past? Do you have a story to share, or some advice for others? Do you struggle with knowing how to develop your character’s backstory wound? Do you think the information in this new book might help?

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becca puglisi
becca puglisi

Jami, I know this year has been such a rough one for you, yet still you rise :). You’re the textbook example of writerly perseverance. I’m so proud of you for going through all of this with your head held high and a death grip on your pen. Thanks so much for sharing your story and helping us celebrate not just our book but the strength that we all possess—even when we don’t know it. You are truly a rock star 🙂

Sieran Lane
Sieran Lane

Hey Jami! Yeah, perseverance is a great virtue. Though I’ve learned the hard way that being able to persevere is not enough; I have to learn how to REST strategically too. :/ I might have to see an ophthalmologist as well, as the condition of my eyes is quite mysterious even to my optometrist. 🙁 If I were to give advice to the younger generation, I would tell them: “Don’t work too hard! Please rest long enough and frequently enough. And please don’t blindly worship perseverance like I did!” I still feel bitter that I used to be able to write 1,000 words a day even during school semesters, but now I’m down to 400+ words a day due to my eye problems…But yes, we keep going and we’ll finish those stories and make them the very best we can! I also think it’s amazing that you’ve kept up the schedule of 2 posts each week. 😀 Even coordinating guest posts must take a lot of time! As for character wounds, oh man, I wonder if I’m putting too much of myself into my characters. I know it’s normal to have similarities with your characters, but… Well, I find that I’m clinging on to my stories as a way to maintain my sanity. I’m projecting my bitterness, anger, fear, and sadness onto my characters due to–certain life events. But in the context of writing, a good thing about having some backstory similarities with your characters, is that you’ll have a…  — Read More »


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