The Enduring Artist - Developing Persistence & Perseverance During Challenging Times


By Joey O'Connor

The greatest threat to your life as an artist is not difficult circumstances, but a lack of persistence and perseverance to endure challenging times.

Difficulty. Hard times. Challenges.

These are what make you and I better. Faster. Stronger.

Squeezing a green lime into your Corona on the beach may provide you a measure of comfort during vacation, but it won't stop a hurricane from coming onshore. 

Now, more than ever in recent decades, we live in a period where everyone's hearts, minds, character, and health, are being tested. 

So let me ask you a question...

As an artist, are you an enduring artist?

Are you demonstrating persistence and perseverance despite your circumstances or the challenging times we're living in?

During this caddywompus COVID-19 conundrum we're all in, there are some artists who have given up their art altogether. Overwhelmed and discouraged, they've lost their hearts. Lost their mojo. The passion is gone.

Other artists are leaning in and leaning in hard.

Pivoting. Taking new risks. Getting in community. Seeking new ways to learn.

These artists demonstrate resilience. They reassess. Redefine. Recreate.


Not that giving up is all bad. You will fail. I will fail.

Failure teaches us far more than success. 

But once you get taken out by failure, do you get up and get moving again?

In our Grove artist community, we talk a lot about the importance of momentum and forward motion. Even God doesn't move parked cars, right? 

In my experience, the only way God chooses to move parked cars is through hurricanes and tornados. 

Better for you to choose to put your car in "drive" than have a tornado do it for you.

Persistence is the choice to move forward each day.

Perseverance is the strength you develop; it is the result of your persistence.

New Perspectives

Sometimes you and I need outside interests and activities to speak into our creative lives. These interests help us develop new perspectives for our art and lives.

If there's one thing that has helped shape my persistence and perseverance as a writer, it's the sport of triathlon.

I know, I know. It's that swim, bike, run thing for crazy people. It's not for everyone. 

Seven years ago, I started doing sprint triathlon races. Then I thought, "I can go longer." So I did a couple Olympic distance triathlons. After that, I said, "I got more in me." So I did a Half-Ironman event. When I discovered the main challenge of endurance events is not physical, but mental...I stepped it up.

Back in 2015, I completed my first full Ironman race. That's a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike, capped by 26.2 mile marathon. 140.6 miles makes for a long day, especially if it's 106 degrees outside. My Coeur d'Alene, Idaho race was dubbed "Coeur d'Flame."

In the years since, I've completed a total of ten Half-Ironman events.

I say this all not to draw attention to myself, but to simply make a point. Triathlon has become a part of who I am and my story. Life is an endurance event. You cannot live well without persistence and perseverance.

You can go a lot farther than you think you can.

You have far more persistence and perseverance than you think you do.  

Now, more than ever, our world needs enduring artists.

We need you to make this world a more beautiful place.

In your singing. Your acting. Your painting. Filming. Photography. Writing...whatever it is you do creatively, we need you.

God has given you tremendous gifts, but you have to stay in motion. You have to keep moving forward. Yes, take that day or two of rest, but get up and keep moving.

Last, it's best not to go it alone. I don't know what I would have done in my writing career if I didn't have others to draft off and learn from.

You and I become stronger together in community.

We can help one another become enduring artists.

We can help each other stay in motion to move towards what we really want.

Question: What do you find most challenging in your life right now? What do you do to develop greater persistence and perseverance?

Leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you.