What is sisu, anyway?

Sisu is one of those words that doesn’t translate well into English. A Finnish word, sisu describes a characteristic that is considered uniquely Finnish. In English you might call it “perseverance”, “grit”, “guts”, “pluck”, “spunk”, “balls”, “backbone”, and/or “stamina”. It is used to describe a people who survive dark winters, enjoy coffee and salt licorice, swim in frozen lakes and sauna in 100C degree saunas, usually on the same day.

“Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage.”

It’s a good word for writers, too. So much of the creative process involves guts, having the courage to say it right, courage to dig deep and persevere, and keep doing it with the same reasoned resolve, despite how uncomfortable and challenging the job.

2 thoughts on “What is sisu, anyway?

  1. You know, I’d never considered the need for sisu as a writer, but you’re right. A novel or collection requires the same kind of stubborn determination I associate with sisu. 🙂 Not to mention the confidence in the resolution. 🙂 Best of luck with Inky Sisu!

    Liked by 1 person

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