Patience is a Virtue for a Reason

If you’re anything like me, it took guts to acknowledge your dream to write, and then a whole truckful more to keep writing despite everything. By the time you think you are nearing the end of a project, you begin to doubt, your nerves start crowding back in, and you just want the whole business over with. So maybe that climax feels a little rushed or perhaps the last paragraph of the query could use some sprucing. You turn a blind eye to it all because you think you can’t wait any longer. You can almost taste the closure.

But you can’t rush the process. There are no shortcuts, just missed opportunities. Competition is fierce and the odds are against you in a shrinking marketplace. If you are like me, you want to see your name in print before print goes the way of the dinosaurs. With each day that passes, it seems like there are more and more reasons to hurry up and get your writing out there. But there are a number of reasons to slow down… to act instead of always reacting. Why settle for half-baked plots or underdeveloped characters that are mere shadows of what you envisioned? Or risk of introducing errors into your work that belie your abilities? A modicum of patience can go a long way.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Like any virtue, patience is hard to practice on a regular basis, especially in our instant gratification society. I am constantly having to slam on the metaphorical breaks because even though I want desperately to be ready, my work probably isn’t there yet. I wage a war with complacency in my writing every day. The laziness that can creep in because I think the writing’s good enough – maybe not great, maybe not perfect – but good enough to get published. To counteract this pitfall, I force myself to think of the most insanely talented, artistic, learned person imaginable and tell myself that’s my competition every time I think I’m ready to submit something. That should be enough to give anyone pause.

What can be so frustrating about the writing process is I can apply all the things I’ve learned – have a compelling plot, interesting characters, perfect and varied sentences – and my work can still seem unfinished in some way. What then? As heartbreaking as it can be to admit this, it may signal a mismatch between my creative intentions and my current abilities as a writer. The good news is I have a piece with potential. The bad news is only time and practice will help me translate what’s in my head into what the piece should be.

In other words, I need to be patient. Let my craft develop naturally without worrying about the mad rush to the finish line. That can be a tough pill to swallow for an unpublished writer like me with stars in their eyes. But I think I’d rather give myself the time to make my own discoveries rather than shortchange my work chasing shortcuts. Good things come to those who wait, right? I’m counting on it.
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