Don’t Stop

I am not a very good pianist. Oh, sure, I took piano lessons for a few years when I was a kid, but I was not a diligent student and, like a lot of other kids, didn’t practice nearly as much as I should have. That being said, I can play well enough so that, with effort and practice, I can to learn to play most of the songs I’m interested in. Never at a performance level, mind you, but well enough to enjoy playing them.

One particular song was my absolute favorite as a teenager and, since I loved it so much, I practiced it over and over until I could play it all the way through, even the most difficult part with the key change and the four-note chords. It wasn’t perfect, but I loved the song and I loved playing it. (My family, though, might have less fond memories of that particular piece.)

If you don’t believe me,
maybe you’ll believe him 

With all the moves and craziness in my life recently, the sheet music for that song spent some time in storage and I didn’t play it for years. I pulled it out the other day and tried to play through it. The beginning went fine, then there was a more challenging section that I managed to muddle my way through, and then came the dreaded key change. A couple chords in, I folded the music back up and started to move on to something else, something easier. That piece was just too hard.

But then I realized that I would never be able to play that song again if I quit as soon as it got rough. The only way I would ever be able to make it through the piece is if I practiced it more and worked through that section, as awful as it felt to do it. So I opened up the music and played through that section again and again. And it was awful, but it got easier. I’m still not as competent as I want to be, but I’m much, much better than I was.

Writing, like playing music, is often the same. No matter how much you might love the story you are working on, it’s going to have a hard part. A part that feels messy and impossible to work through and so hard that you start thinking longingly of other ideas and how much easier they’ll be to write. Those shiny new ideas can seem so, so tempting.

But if you quit when it gets hard, you’ll never get better and your story will never be as amazing as it could be. So don’t stop. Keep pushing through and working and learning and growing.


Jenilyn Collings loves to read and write things that are humorous or romantic (preferably both). She has worked as a dental researcher, a florist, a martial arts instructor, and a tracker at an alternative high school (she’ll leave it to your imagination what that entailed), but she’s now focused on writing and child wrangling. A long time resident of the Mountain West, she recently moved to New England with her family where she is gaining an appreciation for umbrellas, fall colors, and turning lanes while driving

4 thoughts on “Don’t Stop

  1. Thanks for the reminder. I have essentially stopped writing, mostly because I am terrified to put myself out there, because it has been so long and I am years and years out of practice. But maybe I will try to make it through some rough spots. 🙂


  2. I needed this today as I work on my zillionth draft of a story I thought I would finish over a year ago. Thanks for your words and Tom. Also, welcome to the East Coast!


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