How to Stop Being an Impatient Writer

By: Marilyn L. Davis

 

“Impatience is not the fastest way of getting to where your treasures are. It is the quickest way of by-passing them without even knowing. Keep calm; be patient!”― Israelmore Ayivor, Daily Drive 365

 

Should Have Remembered the Microwave

 

My father graduated from college with a degree in history, read daily, and traveled long distances to make a sale. Logging up to 100,000 miles on a car gave him a lot of time to ponder questions about life. Family discussions about life usually included quotes from books he was reading or a historical reference from some long-lost civilization. 

Dad believed that not all advances in civilization were worthwhile, either. When my mother bought a microwave, he wasn’t as thrilled about this modern and improved appliance as she was. She tried to convince him of the merits telling him that she could melt chocolate for her fudge or icing in record time, that she would save countless hours in the kitchen, and have more time for her hobbies.

Dad had no objections to Mom getting more time for her hobbies, nor were his motives for his opinion self-centered. He didn’t think about the quality of his food deteriorating with this invention.

He just believed that this time-saving, quicker than ever invention would be the “end of patience in America.” That was in 1967. 

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Cliff Notes Personify Impatience According to my Dad

 

Reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace for a Lit assignment, I was bored and knew that I could get out of reading it if I asked him to elaborate on his comment. So, I asked him how this time-saving invention would be the end of patience in America. 

He said, “Marilyn, if your mother can have melted chocolate in mere seconds, the next thing you know, people will expect their mail in two days rather than five, they’ll want to get everything in just one store, and you will be satisfied with the Cliffs Notes and miss the beauty of that book.” 

Tolstoy did his first work on the story around 1856. Then he did fifteen rewrites which took a whole year. After thirteen years of research, rewriting, revising, and editing, War and Peace was finally published in its entirety in 1869.  

Thirteen years! We want a published book in thirteen days – including images.  

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One Impatient Writer’s Reasons

 

“I should learn patience; it’s a shame there’s no time for that.”― Maija Haavisto, The Atlas Moth

As the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate, I get a lot of submissions. One the other day reminded me of the microwave. The writer’s email read, “I was impatient to get this to you. I know there are mistakes, but I didn’t take the time to edit as that’s your job.” 

As is the case when we jump the gun, get impatient, or want instant gratification, our outcomes might have significantly improved if we had been patient. I sent the submission back asking that the writer revise, proofread, and then resubmit.

Why? Because I may be the editor and love that aspect of my job, I will not rewrite entire passages. Two reasons for this are that I think each writer has their unique voice, and my edits could alter that, and there were opportunities within the submission to find references, links, or quotes, and that’s more time than I was willing to give this impatient writer.  

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Let’s All Slow Down

 

 

“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement, and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.” ― Brian Adams

Another thing we’re impatient about is improving our writing. We want to be a best-seller with our first book or win an award for our blog every year. 

Unfortunately, improving anything takes time. So, how do we use the time to improve our writing? We read. I know; that seems counterintuitive. But reading books about better writing will rub off on you – eventually. Why? Because you’ll start seeing your common mistakes written about by famous authors and finally realize that it’s not good writing. Then you can start writing with more confidence. 

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When Will It Happen? 

 

“In my impatience, I become convinced that this desire of mine should have been fulfilled yesterday when it belongs to a tomorrow that yesterday would have killed had I had my way.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

Eventually, finally, or before long, your writing improves, but with all those time references, you need to know it doesn’t happen overnight. 

I know something about impatience and waiting. As a recovering addict, I used to spend countless hours waiting for my dope dealer. Was I impatient to get what I wanted? Yes, but I waited nonetheless. I’m not proud of why I waited, but it taught me something about not trying to make something happen when I couldn’t control the timing. 

Impatience didn’t just happen in my addiction, either. I remember lamenting my lack of progress when I first got into recovery. I wanted what the “old-timers” had – right then. I told my mentor, Gray Hawk, that I prayed for more patience with myself. He laughed and said, “Why would the Universe give you more of something when you’re not using what you have”?

In other words, I wasn’t using even the little bit of patience I had. I stopped praying for patience and started using what I had, and instead of complaining about my lack of progress, I started asking those “old-timers” what they did when they were impatient. I got answers that helped.

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How to Become a Patient Writer

 

“Even the most prolific writer writes only one word at a time.”― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

If you’ve defined your “it” that you’re impatient to see materialize, and it happens to be seeing your writing published, then what can you do to make sure it happens? 

1. Continue to Improve Your Writing

Yes, we’re back to being a better writer. You can do that by reading, learning about syntax, grammar, pacing, and flow. 

Here’s a list of some books I’ve used since I started writing online that definitely helped. 

2. Read the Submission Guidelines Carefully

Every site and publisher gives you instructions on how to submit to them. They are not all the same.

Sometimes, in a writer’s impatience, they’ll send me a post in 12 point Times New Roman font, double spaced with tabbed indentations, which might have been for their book submissions. 

It’s not for Two Drops of Ink. It’s important that you follow the directions and not be impatient if you have to change font, size, or add sub-headings for a guest post, which is different than a book. 

3. Have Realistic Expectations for Your Writing

Sure, you want to be noticed – right now, and this is not realistic. WordPress-driven blogs account for 27% of all posts on any given day, making the total number of blogs posted per day a little over 10 million.

We get our ISBN from Bowker, and from their figures, we’re told that 2700 books are published daily. 

Without discouraging you about your writing, that’s a lot of competition, and that’s why your writing has to be the best it can be if you expect to see it published. 

4. Understand Visibility

Within all that competition for readers, some best-sellers and blogs win awards. Those writers and blogs are the ones that ‘everyone is reading.’ 

Perhaps they had an audience from their first or fifth book that fuels interest in their sixth. Maybe they made best blogs of (whatever year) and best blog for (whatever reason). But trust me, they paid dues. They wrote, revised, edited, and worked with people to get their writing out there. 

5. Work With the Editor or Publisher

You may think that collaboration won’t be fast enough – there’s that impatience again. You’re wrong. You can’t do it all. 

All editors want to make your work shine and get noticed. Your publisher feels the same way. But you are not the only writer who submits a guest post or book. 

If you get your initial guest post or book rejected, pay attention to the critique. That’s the job of an editor and publisher – to tell you where to improve. 

6. Develop Tolerance for Delays

I know you want to see your writing published – today. You want the publishing process speeded up. You want recognition and see your name plastered on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and any new ones I haven’t mentioned. I get it. 

“We’ll publish this later this week, month, or year” irritates you no end when you get the email telling you that your post or manuscript was accepted. You want it done now!

Well, sometimes it can’t. Why? Well, I had to take the time to write this, which meant I wasn’t looking at all the submissions because my job is both writer and editor.  

But, if you’re impatient — if you give up before you’ve built that portfolio — you risk never getting past the status of a part-time writer, would-be bestseller or aspiring author. 

7. Understand a Portfolio Takes Time

“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.” — James Baldwin

Impatient to get stuff published without attention to the writing means you’ll either get rejected, or if you have a blog where you post without the benefit of an editor means that some of your writing is not good. 

Those unedited, not quite your best writing, or uninteresting writing will show up eventually. 

You may have an opportunity to feature your other writing in a bio for a guest submission as we do at Two Drops of Ink. And I do read them, too. Granted, I’ll remove one if it’s not particularly good writing or doesn’t help the guest submission because I want to showcase the best writing for that submission. Not every editor is a cheerleader or encourager, though, or they’ll judge your early attempts. 

I’ll Practicing Being Patient

Have patience with all things, But, first of all, with yourself. ~Saint Francis de Sales

Now, to demonstrate my patience:

  • I’ll let this sit for a day or two or a week after I’ve written it on October 15th.
  • I won’t check social media for likes, shares, or other examples of attention. 
  • I won’t stare at the phone, waiting impatiently for a callback.
  • I’ll understand why my editing client isn’t sending an update. 
  • I won’t obsess over the number of books I’ve sold this week. 

So, what am I going to do? I’ll edit, find quotes and images for a guest post on From Addict 2 Advocate. After that, I will forgo anything about writing, editing, revising, or marketing and repot some plants. Then, I’ll fix some tea and read. 

How Do You Practice Patience as a Writer?

Quotes and my conclusions are helpful, but I’ve also found that ordinary men and women have some of the best advice, like my dad. So, all of you who get impatient with your writing, blogging, publishing, or editing, please let me know how you overcame this sometimes self-defeating trait. I would appreciate that. Thanks.

 

Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million. 

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What advice do you have for bloggers and writers? Do you write poetry or prose? Then consider a guest post at Two Drops of Ink for exposure, back links to your site, books, or other writing. 

 

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