A-Z Writer's Toolbox: Quiet Resolve

A to Z Disclaimer:

Like all craftspeople, writers need to keep a bag of tricks handy. A set of tools for the job (writing), if you will. Some of these traits or tools are obvious--like the need to have a hide as thick as a brick, for instance. Some are not. This month, I've been challenged to do a post every day of the week (excluding Sunday) that begins with a letter of the alphabet. I'm going to use this challenge to examine some of those necessary writing tools, both conventional and not. Hold on to your #2 pencil, here we go!

NOTE: I've added a page dedicated to my A to Z Writer's Toolbox posts. I figured I'd soon have a bunch of these things and it'll make it easier for you to browse any of the letters you might have missed. You can find a link to the page under the, "MORE STUFF" heading at the top of the right-hand column of this page.

Q & R are for quiet resolve

Thanks for the birthday wishes, gang!  I've had a blast the last the couple of days, and eaten WAY too much.  (I've noticed that fun and food are directly correlated in my world, btw.  @ BECK:  no Papasitos this year, but it's one of my favorites!)  It was really cool to see so many of you drop me a line.  I truly appreciate it.  Now back to your regularly scheduled A-Z post ... (yes, it's still going)

To resolve to do something means that you've come to a definite--permanent--and earnest decision about something.  When I think of words like resolve, I often think about heros or heroic acts.  I also think of unyielding stubbornness in the face of impossible odds.

Superman regularly faces unimaginable threats to truth and justice because he resolved to use his considerable power to protect them.  By never giving up when all others seemed ready to, historical legends like George Washington were able to overcome great adversity to attain victories that they'd resolved to achieve at all cost.

But resolve doesn't always have be the stuff of legend. Quiet resolve means you've decided to do something without declaration or preamble.  You don't qualify your actions, you just do it, and many times with zero recognition.  When I think of the phrase 'quiet resolve' I'm most likely to think of my father.

Unlike Superman or George Washington, my dad didn't do anything worthy of books or stories.  He didn't have a super-villain threatening to destroy our little town, nor did he have a cause so important that scores of people supported him.  He simply went about his business every day with a singleminded purpose, and his business was taking care of his family.

While he's never once said so, I have no doubt that my dad made a permanent, life-altering decision when he married my mother and had his first child.  Part of that decision meant that he'd get up every day (except for Sunday) and work for as long as there was sunlight, and sometimes when there wasn't.  It meant he'd do the work he was able to do, which required back-breaking labor and a lot of dirty clothes.  It wasn't glorious, and it didn't earn him much renown.  (Unless you had an engine acting up, or a carburetor that needed cleaning, in which case you might think that he was a Superman of sorts.)

We writers need that kind of quiet resolve.  We need the attitude of: I'm getting up and writing today even if not-a-soul knows (or cares) about it when I'm finished.  

Too often I get caught up in the big rewards, or the big payoff, when it comes to the hoped-for fruits of my writing resolutions.  I want to be known.  I want to make some money off of my writing, if not a living.  I can get distracted at times simply by hoping someone is going to someday read what I'm working on and love it.  Occasionally I get frustrated that I'm not to that point yet.

That's when I need to reach into my writer's toolbox and find my quiet resolve.  I need to remind myself that I'd be doing this everyday without a hint of notoriety, because I made that promise to myself a few years back.  I resolved to give the development of my writing abilities my full effort for as long as it took, regardless of the obstacles and frustrations.

So tomorrow I'm going to get up, put on the coffee and hammer on the keyboard.  I'm going to do the same thing the next day, and then the next.  That's what it's going to take, and I'm the only one who can make that happen.



  1. I agree we all should tap into our quiet resolve. Only the writer can take his or her writing to the next level, and then another one.

  2. Belated Happy Birthday EJ.

    Another great post.

    A x

  3. Joe Eszterhas, perhaps not the biggest fan of the German language, uses a German word to describe what you're talking about: Sitzfleisch! Literally, it means "Sit Flesh." It is the ability to sit upon one's ass and get the job done.

    Nice post.

  4. This is such a great post. A reminder to us all to have quiet resolve. We are the writers. We are the ones who have to show up and do the work. It won't do itself. No one else can do it for us. And we may never get recognition. But hopefully we will have, at least, the quiet satisfaction of knowing we did it. And tomorrow morning, and the next day and the next, you will have company here in NY (and I'm guessign lots of other places!), putting on the coffee, planting butt in chair, and hammering that keyboard!

  5. Happy Birthday! Sounds like you had a great time.

  6. So true. I always find excuses for not writing--the house needs to be cleaned, I need to do laundry/ironing, the kid needs help with school work, need to get dinner started. But if I lived like a slob, got pizza delivery, let my kid fail in school and my family walk around naked, I could finally write that great book. haha

    The key is balance. Unfortunately, I have not found the balance yet, but this A to Z Challenge is at least making me post each day. If I can manage that, then maybe I can manage to finally write the book.

  7. Happy Belated Birthday!

    I try to do the NaNo thing. By that I mean, at least 1700 words per day or one chapter whichever comes first. If I've done 1700 words in my spare time then I use the rest of my spare time to blog or read blogs.

    I really enjoyed this post!

  8. Good for you, EJ! That's the ticket!

    You know, I once received a crit from an agent on a ms that my MC didn't have enough resolve. Whoa! That one stumped me for days. Of course, that was just her opinion. But I had an inner battle of wits actually deciding whether it was part of the story to give her more resolve. I went with it and tweaked my story to make the MC stronger, more resolved. And the next agent crit I received said someone in my MC's position probably wouldn't sound so tough. lol

    Just goes to show how subjective it is. But anyway, now that I've digressed completely. Fantastic post! I couldn't agree more. I think we have to remind ourselves, in writing it's the journey, not the destination. Just the fact we completed a novel is something to feel proud of.

    Good luck in the morning! I'll be hammering away in my neck of the woods. Been sticking to a 4am wake up call all month til my new WIP is done. One chapter left.... Must ... get ... finished ...

  9. Excellent post--got me a little teary-eyed about my own father. Thanks :)

  10. oh pooh. You make me feel guilty about letting my work in progress fester while I watch House.

  11. I like t mix the two by sitting at my desk in just red underpants.

  12. nice post! But I really don't think you should hammer on the keyboard. What would you do if it broke?

  13. When I hear "quiet resolve" I think of my son who quietly, one might even say stealthily, resolves to destroy as much of the house as possible on a daily basis. ;)

    I definitely could use more resolve as a writer though. More writing, less playing MMOs.

  14. Oh yes we all need a dose of quiet resolve. A daily dose. But the internet/blogging world has helped me so much! I can post that I wrote 3k this past week, and people understand that it's an accomplishment! I get a few virtual pats on the back. It helps. Until I read about someone who hammered out 10k over the weekend. Then I get Hulk green. (No - just kidding! It actually inspires me. My green competitive side :)

  15. "Quiet" resolve has such a nice ring to it compared with "grim" resolve which never works as well anyway.

  16. Nice words about your dad.
    Resolve is something we could all use. Thanks!

  17. thank u for the "reminder" :)


“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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