AHA · Authors Helping Authors · General

Patience Will Make You a Better Writer

My God, I am so impatient. Maybe it’s the quest for perfection, never being satisfied. I often interrupt others, hoping they will hurry up and get to their point before I fall asleep. I walk too fast, often cursing the slow walking people in front of me as I make my way through a patience-in-writing-1shopping centre. I’m only competitive because I want to achieve my goal faster. I find it hard to relax or keep still, and I pray you never have to witness me struggling with a slow internet connection where waiting a few more seconds for a page to load feels like an eternity. Yes, I scream at the screen sometimes.

But with writing, I have to address this; I can’t afford to be impatient. A Questionable Cure, my last book, took me two 2 years to write and is about to be rewritten. It will take me another year to see where I went wrong and might take another year to do the rewrite. It’s not the text that needs rewriting, but the research needs updating, the marketing strategy needs reappraising, the book cover needs redesigning. If I don’t find the patience to do this, I might as well apply for a supermarket job stacking shelves and save myself the time and bother.

And when this is all over I will look back on it, and know that I managed all this not because I was patient but because I learnt how to be. Patience is learned. Most important, patience will make you a better writer. Like all things in life, getting good at anything takes time and a desire to learn. Concert pianists didn’t get where they were by sitting down and just playing. They take lessons for many years, practice at least eight hours every day, and sacrifice a great deal to achieve their dream.

patience-in-writing-2Learning how to write, and to do it well, is the same. There is no fast track to becoming an excellent writer, but the more time you spend writing and the more you try to stretch yourself as a writer, the better you become. Few writers succeed without years of practice behind them for there is no such thing as overnight success.

If or when you finally make it, the need for patience won’t diminish. Success means putting in years of hard work to promote that book, write more books, speak at conferences and/or teach writing courses, build a website and blog, and continue to improve your writing. If you just want to see your name on a book cover, self-publishing is becoming easier and more common. But if you want a long-term professional writing career, you’ll need patience and endurance to build it.

Patience takes strength, not sitting around twiddling your thumbs. Patience means writing more, reading more, practicing, failing, dusting yourself off, and trying again. Patience requires endurance, a deep reserve of will power and commitment, and an almost Herculean ability to delay gratification. But, just a reminder before you pull whatever hair out that you have left, you are not alone. Impatience is a human condition, remember that next time you google something.

patience-in-writing-3Guns and Roses said, “All we need is a little patience” but I prefer “Patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet.” by Jean Jacques Rousseau. Here are a few more quotes to put things in perspective and carry you through:

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”  ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” ― Molière

“Patience is a conquering virtue.” ― Geoffrey Chaucer

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Nor is patience restricted to writing. “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

~~~~~~~~~~~~~by Roger Gerald Scott, award winning author, co-founder of AHA site

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