Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ career is a reminder that hard work pays off. He is living proof that you can live the dream—you just have to keep at it.
But how did he get where he is today? By trying and failing. A year ago from August 5, Coates was featured in a video on his process and career produced by The Atlantic, where he is a national correspondent. Instead of having him speak about issues he writes about, he instead addressed the issues of writing and what it means to succeed.
“Breakthroughs come from putting an inordinate amount of pressure on yourself,” he says. “The translation of what you do in your head, what your idea is in your head, onto the page, will almost always come out really badly…I never really get to that perfect thing that was in my head. I always consider the entire process about failure.”
He goes on to explain how writing is about sticking with it, about going forward, about continuing despite a lack of jobs. Why? Because people will fall off and go elsewhere, becoming lawyers and teachers and the like, a sad-but-true creative stereotype come true. Creativity is as much about the making as it is about commitment and doggedness, that need to go and go and go in order to make your work payoff. Writing, like many artistic careers for those without a leg up, is about continuing.
You can catch his complete thoughts below. They’re the sage inspiration you need to continue forward.