Essential Ingredient – Patience

Bigger, faster, stronger. Now!

Not just society, pop culture or modern fiction are speeding up, but writers themselves too. Constantly trying to exceed our capacity, to be better prepared, write more, write faster, write better. Or get left behind.

But — there’s no bandwagon rushing past you. It may feel like it, but in fact there isn’t. If you really watch it carefully, you’ll notice it’s driving in circles. You can get on it anytime you want. It’s much better if you do it on your own terms, when you’re ready.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Look around you.

There’s all this life going on around you. Take a moment to remember you belong in it as well.

One of the 10 ingredients of a professional writer, which I will talk about in the following weeks, is patience.

Patience is required when we are preparing a new project, when we can’t wait to get started on our brilliant idea, ’cause it’s just itching in our fingers. But we must first prepare the terrain, do some outlining, some characterization, maybe even plan a few scenes ahead, test the idea out. If we just throw ourselves into it, the chances are slim that we’ll actually finish it and make it awesome. It’s just the way it works, especially with long fiction.

Patience is also an absolute must when we edit. The temptation might be high to just skip over the majority of the book in our eagerness to get it out to beta-readers or publishers. Or maybe we rush into the editing process without letting the draft sit for a while, so we can cool down, get a new perspective on things. It’s important that we be patient when editing, because it’s usually what will elevate our story from an oozing pile of words, to a self-contained story.

Do I need to mention we must be patient when dealing with agents, editors and publishers? When dealing with anyone in the writing business? We might be the ones who have the book, but they have their own part to play in the great scheme of things, and if we can’t bring up the patience to let them do their jobs, then maybe we’re not ready to be professional writers yet.

And we must also learn to be patient with ourselves. It takes years to master the craft, hundreds of thousands of words, sleepless nights, towers of books, the occasional howl of despair and maybe even a couple of failed attempts, before we’re even close to becoming actual, professional writers. We’ve got to be more patient, and not expect to become masters over night.

Being patient is one of the hardest things I had to learn. I was always an impatient kid, highly active, never quiet or able to sit still. But when I started writing seriously, when I began working at the universe of my book (and the actual draft) I had to learn to be patient. It took me several false starts, hundreds of pages of world-building, tens of books about the craft of writing, plotting and replotting, discussions, lessons, nightmares, tears — but despite all that, the missing ingredient to make the story blossom was time. It simply took time to ripen. And it forced me to be patient.

So when you’re trudging away at your WIP, feeling like it’s never going to end, like the whole world is whooshing past you and leaving you behind — remember to be patient.

Everything worth-while requires time and patience.

 

Also –> The winner of the Outline contest will be announced as soon as possible. Due to prior commitments, it will take a few more days but we have certainly not forgotten. Hope you’re patient. πŸ˜‰

 

18 Replies to “Essential Ingredient – Patience”

  1. Ah yes, patience. (The original plan for my own WIP was to start querying in Dec. 2011. Ahem.)
    You are right. There’s no hurrying through this process – especially in editing. (At least for me.)
    I’ve always hurried through life. Pick a goal, make a plan, launch (attack!), achieve, and start over again. A former employer gave me a garden statue of a running hare. She said it reminded her of me.
    But writing is different. True, I want to be done with my current project NOW, but no one wins if I don’t spend the time turning out the best work that’s possible for me to give.
    Patience. Every writer needs to learn it.
    Hope everything is going well in your world, Vero! And yes, I’m sure your contest participants will cut you some slack! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Tracy! It’s really great you’re taking your time with editing. Polish that book until it shines bright and true!

      As to my WIP — I refuse to even think of querying until the story knocks people off their feet. If it takes me more time to get there, I’ll take the time (&work). I want the thing to be a killer, not something that tried, but died under the porch. πŸ˜€

      And thanks very much for the subtle TLC right there at the end. I’m fine, just a bit ill, nothing too serious. πŸ˜‰

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    1. That’s exactly what happens, Misha. In the buzz of things, it’s usually the more meaningful, quieter aspects that slip under the grid first, and that’s such a pity.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! πŸ™‚

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    1. It’s always easier to give in, but that doesn’t bring you anything. In fact, it robs you of your enthusiasm, and when you lose that, everything loses its value to you. So stay clear of laziness. And feed the cows. πŸ™‚

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  2. I find I have all the patience in the world when it comes to creating a new piece of art, crafting an article or listening to a friend who needs an understanding ear; maybe not as much as I should have with myself, I’m a clear Type A personality. But when I comes to standing in line at the grocery story all patience goes out the window and I morph into Jekyll and Hyde. Don’t know what it is – well, yes I do. It’s watching the clerks chit chatting or complaining to the bagger about their jobs instead of focusing on moving the line along. Bah humbug.

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    1. LOL! I totally get that, Marquita.

      I’m Speedy Gonzales’ remote cousin, and what irks me most (rather, it freakin drives me insane) is when lazy people draaaag their asses along the middle of the sidewalk and there’s no way to walk around them, and they don’t freakin hear your “excuse me”s and your “sorry”s at all! πŸ˜€

      I learned to change the side of the street in mid traffic without getting hurt. That’s a mad skill!
      Oh, and, yeah, to be more patient. Uh-huh. πŸ˜›

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  3. Very good advice! I’ve wrestled with patience quite a bit myself. Worldbuilding always makes me impatient, as much as I love it. Once you’ve been doing it a while, your mind just starts screaming at you, “Start the damned story already!”

    Patience is a much needed virtue at the submission/query stage as well. Even the best works are going to be rejected hand over fist before finding the right home. It takes patience not to give up and toss the story in the trunk instead of carrying on. Who knows how many great works have been lost to impatient writers?

    Patience! πŸ˜€

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    1. It’s sometimes really tough to restrain oneself and remember that faster doesn’t mean better.

      “Who knows how many great works have been lost to impatient writers?”
      — this is a fact, if I ever saw any. I’m certain many great stories got buried because the writer didn’t take the patience to finish them, rework them, or treat everyone else involved in the “after-submit” process respectfully and/or patiently.

      Thanks a lot, James. That was good input. πŸ™‚

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  4. My patience is truly testing during the editing process. Usually, I’m fine after the first round. But it’s that fourth and fifth round – when I’m taking my beta’s critiques and really blowing my manuscript up and putting it back together…that’s when my patience is really thin.

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    1. Editing is tough business, that’s true, Jay. But getting through it is so rewarding! πŸ™‚

      I have most trouble with impatience during drafting. My vision of the story’s path and the characters’ evolution can’t make it to paper fast or good enough, and it’s so hard to refrain from pre-editing. πŸ™‚

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  5. My patience is giving me carpal tunnel syndrome of the index finger and blurry vision from too much computer screen. But if you say so, I’ll try.

    Like

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