Skip to content

Writerly Wisdom from Our 30th President

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” (Calvin Coolidge)

In my book, in seminars, and in private teaching sessions, I offer time and again that writing is its own best teacher. (I also say lots of silly, nonsensical things – but we won’t go into that now.) I tell students that hard work is every bit as important in writing as is raw talent. So, when I recently ran across the above quote from Calvin Coolidge (Silent Cal, to his friends), I got charged up.

From what I read about Coolidge, he was my kind of guy – a true “less is more” sort of fellow. And I just love what he said about the myth of unrewarded genius and the reality of people who are talented but unsuccessful. (I’ve encountered loads of talented musicians who never amounted to much because they didn’t want to work very hard at the business of music.) Hard work, persistence as Coolidge calls it, is the real key to success.

Dickey Lee, writer of “She Thinks I Still Care” along with dozens of other major country hits, told me once, “It’s amazing how hard ‘lucky people’ work in the music business.” (I need to ask Dickey if he’s a fan of Calvin Coolidge, too.)

Persistence is the key to successful writing. The song won’t finish itself. You have to do it. And don’t tell me that “God gave it to you,” because God didn’t finish the song for you. (God may have blessed you with a great idea, and inspired the song – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have work left to do.)

So, do have any unfinished songs sitting in your files? Pull one out and get to work.  You don’t have an “songs in progress” file? Then it’s time to start your next song.

Happy writing.


Leave a Reply

Sign up for our Newsletter

Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit