The Writing Lesson I Didn't Know I Needed to Learn

Saturday, December 22, 2018
photo via Pixabay

I have always loved reading advice on writing. In fact, as early as 12 or 13 I was borrowing books on writing from the library. I got to know that section by heart.  For a long time, I was also a subscriber to Writer's Digest and Poets and Writers. Then I discovered blogs and really got to quench my thirst for writing advice. And with all of this reading about writing, I didn't learn one important lesson on writing until recently. I don't even blame the books, the magazines and the blogs for not teaching me this lesson I'm about to share with you. I blame myself. I thought I already learned it. But the truth is, I didn't.

What is that lesson?


It takes patience to write. It takes patience to wait for feedback. Patience to find the right contest or literary magazine. Patience to wait on results of that contest. Patience to read that rejection letter and resubmit the story. Patience to rewrite the story in just the right way. Patience.

The last few weeks I've been chomping at the bit to submit a story I've been working on and I have no patience at all. I'm so eager to submit the story and put that cart before the horse.

It's as if I'm at a train station and it's been hours since the last train went by, and finally, when one shows up, it isn't even the train that I need. And then there's me, not having the patience to wait anymore. Do I give up and go home? Or do I wait for the train and be patient?

Despite my lack of patience, my story isn't ready to submit it yet. I know that. So, as a writer, how do I develop patience for writing? Is there a class I can take? A book I can read? A blog I can subscribe to? Anything that can teach me how to be patient? Maybe there is something out there for the impatient ones, but somehow I feel like this is a lesson learned the hard way. And I'm finally allowing myself to learn it.

One takeaway I can learn from this lesson is how while I wait on one story to finally be ready, I can work on another. And with that, I can be satisfied to wait and be patient.

Follow Nicole Pyles on her writing journey by following her on Twitter @BeingTheWriter and her blog The World of My Imagination.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--Hi, I'm Sioux and I'm an Impatient (too). I belong to that 12-step program as well. When you find what we can do (other than work on a different project) while we wait, you can go on the road as an international consultant.

I think it was Pearl Buck who said something like, "I get my best ideas while washing dishes." That's what I've do when I get stuck, and eventually, I get unstuck.

While I'm waiting, though? Right now I'm working on another component of the piece. While I wait for feedback, I'm working on a 2-page summary. (Ugh. It hard. Me frustrated.) I'm adding to a list of possible publishers/agents. I'm thinking of creating a set of discussion questions, if my book is used by a teacher/children's book group. However, as I try to be patient, I think, 'Today is the day I will get the critique.' It's darned hard to be patient.

And I agree with you, Nicole. It's a lesson that has to learned the hard way. Perhaps we should change Sinatra's song to, "I did it the HARD way."

Angela Mackintosh said...

Hi Nicole ~ I feel ya! We have a couple of fantastic articles on patience. This humorous one by Chelsey Clammer, How to Hold Your Horses (be sure to check out the funny links at the end). :) And 10 Ways to Play the Waiting Game and Win It! by Mridu Khullar Relph, which is fantastic because she interviews novelists, freelancers, and more for their best tips.

I know what it's like to be working on a piece of writing that you know in your heart isn't done yet and you want it to be perfect already! That's a unique kind of waiting that can only come with time. I just opened up my Nano memoir yesterday and realized that I have probably a year or two of writing and revising to do, and I seriously wonder if I have the patience. But I know it's something I've wanted to write for a long time, and if I don't see it through, I will never be happy. So I just have to believe that the process will lead me there. To be proactive about it, I'm going to find someone who is working on a memoir and is at the same stage as me so we can trade feedback during this next year, and I will hire an editor to help keep me on track throughout the year. I will also take classes to turn pieces of my memoir into essays and get feedback, because I think completing something shorter and publishable while working on something long will help me stay sane. :) Are you part of a critique group?

Margo Dill said...

Ha! This post makes me smile because it is so true. Nothing moves fast in the writing business--or so it seems in my writing business anyway. :)

Nicole Pyles said...

@Sioux - Ha, if I get an idea on how to wait better you will TOTALLY be the first to know! Ha, and I love that Sinatra rewrite, how true is that!! And while I wait for feedback, I'm also considering a potential angle if I do decide to rewrite the story AND I'm going to force myself to work on some other stories too. *SIGH* I hate waiting.

@Angela - I'm reading those articles now! My latest round of feedback will be coming from Zoetrope and my feedback has changed from being straight up specific to vague comments such as the plot needs tightening and "this wasn't really unique." And so backburner simmering is where this story needs to be I guess! And that sounds like an awesome process you have planned out for your memoir! I think that will absolutely help you stay sane!

@Margo - ah, that's so true :) Not fast at all!

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