Recently my blogging chum Shannon O’Donnell posted about how important certain virtues are for people on the writing path. We must have the courage to write and put ourselves out there, we must find the fortitude needed to persevere. The one virtue she mentioned struggling with is having enough patience to stave off discouragement, depression, frustration and doubt.
Patience. Boy, that is a tough one some days, isn’t it? I bet you can all relate to Shannon. I know I can.
Writing is a long journey. Most of you are probably involved in writing sites, forums, critique groups and the like, connecting with others on the writing path. You read blogs, encourage others, keep tabs on those striving just as you are. This is what it means to be a community. But there can be a dark side to belonging to this community, something that can cause us to have a crisis of faith: staying patient and upbeat when other succeed where we have not (yet).
Don’t get me wrong, we cheer for every sale and piece of good news that comes to our writer friends! But, sometimes a sliver inside us feels something else: Frustration. Envy. Worry. Doubt. These emotions lead to a plague of questions: Why haven’t I succeeded? Why isn’t it my turn for good news? Why can’t this be me? Am I kidding myself for even trying?
It’s very easy to let these negative questions send us on a downward spiral, sucking away our energy, our creativity and our strength to continue. Like Shannon mentioned in her post, it is impatience that leads us down this dark road.
So how do we fight it? How do we build up our resistance and stay upbeat?
I find for me, the best way to conquer impatience is to take it out of the equation. Once my book is in an editor’s hands, is there anything I can do writing-wise to make them say yes? No, there isn’t. Can I make them read faster, get back to me faster? No. So, why stress and get all impatient about it? These are things I have no control over.
Instead, I put my energy into what I CAN do:
—I can make myself attractive to an editor who may look me up online. So, I put time and energy into my online presence and platform.
—I can continue to write & polish in case they want to see something else from me. I let go of the book that’s on submission and turn to the next project.
—I can continue to learn, which will help me make sure a cleaner product reaches their desk. None of us know everything–we can always improve. Learning is growing.
These are the things within my control, so I do them. 🙂
Here’s one solid fact, no matter where you’re at on the publishing trail: if you keep moving forward, you’ll get there. I believe this. I live it. So, the next time impatience & negativity clouds your head space, TAKE CONTROL. Fight by putting your energy into things that will lead to your success!
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Susan Kaye Quinn says
Fantastic advice! I’m horribly impatient. HORRIBLY. Could be one my most extreme flaws, as in I don’t do it half way. At all. So I get all busy with something else, dogging that thing to death, and forget that I’m impatient for the other thing to happen. 🙂
It’s brilliant to focus on what you can control and let go of what you can. I love that! That’s an excellent attitide to have. But then, I knew you were wise. 😉
Alex F. Fayle says
I’ve never been a patient person, but when I got serious about my writing in 2006 I told myself I had 20 years to develop a solid writing career. That forced me to be patient.
Nothing needs to happen NOW but there are a lot of things that I can do now to help things happen later.
I don’t over-visualize my future either. It’s there waiting for me. I just need to stay focused on the moment and keep writing and improving.
It’ll come when it comes. I have no doubt of that.
Kerri Cuev says
Great post! Keep moving forward–I LIKE it!
Conda V. Douglas says
Excellent post! And I so needed it today (and lots of other days too).
Kittie Howard says
LOVE this post! We’re so into writing that we want to get it out there, now, all very frustrating when it’s not, even worse, rejected. Writing is not for the faint of heart.
“Keep moving forward and put your energy into what you can do,” Thank you for that golden advice! Words to live by!
Cynthia Chapman Willis says
Love this honest and uplifting post! So true! I don’t think the impatience every goes away. It just takes on different forms at different times. Wonderful words of wisdom here. Thank you!!!
Brent Wescott says
What a great resource you’ve created. I feel like I finally began my journey as a writer this year after feeling impatient about it literally for years. I’m taking steps I should have taken a long time ago. Your post here describes exactly what I’m going through. Thanks for your list of “I cans.”
It Just Got Interesting
The All Real Numbers Symbol says
Good post. I have trouble mostly with the patience neede to get work done. I don’t have ADD, but sometimes I feel like I do, given how often I switch from one project to the other. But I’ve also heard it said that sometime’s it’s good to have more than one project going, so if you get bored on the one, go to something better, and come back when you feel ready to keep working on the first one. Make of that what you will.
Kris Kaumeyer says
My impatience monster gets a hold of me all the time. It’s a constant battle, but I tell myself to back off and slow down. You have to do the work before you can get the results. The journey is half the adventure… so I’m to believe.
Kelly Andrews says
Good post, Angela. I try to remind myself that takes just as long to hear back whether you are patient or impatient.
Pk Hrezo says
I really needed to read this today. i was feeling exactly the way you mentioned. And it is impatience. I have to remind myself, no matter how hard I work, It’s just not my time.
Thanks for posting this.
Lisa Gail Green says
This is such an important point. It can’t be said enough. And we all have moments of weakness when we start to slip… but then when we remind ourselves of WHY we’re doing it in the first place and how we can continue to work we recover and stay on track.
Angela Ackerman says
Lizzie, Janet and Charlie, you guys have the right attitude!
Shauna, absolutely this can be applied to all aspects and goals. Hugs!
Traci, that’s absolutely an excellent point–everyone who succeeds works very hard to do so. I know very few people in this likfe that have things handed to them with no effort.
KLM, yes, procrastination can be a mortal enemy can’t it?
Jac, this is so true. As writers we do feel pulled in different direction, and this is when doubt can set in. It helps to remember why we started this journey in the first place–each and every one of us started because we believed we could do it. We should never lose sight of that. 🙂
Susan, I think it’s something so many struggle with, but few want to talk about because it makes us feel bad, like we’re not nice people. This isn’t true at all! Doubt and envy are powerful, and it helps to talk about it as we all feel them at some point.
Shannon, I am trying to get my hands on Save The Cat! I so want to read it!
Kelly, that’s great! Improving on what we know about writing is one of the smartest things we can do. Always learn, always improve.
Becca, how many times have you been there for me to pump me up when I’m down? LOL, guess where I learned this from?
Me, absolutely you keep going. Don’t give up. I know so many great writers who gave up, and it steals a piece of me every time, because I know good writing, and they had the talent to succeed. You believed in yourself enough to start, now keep believing it! You can do it!
Kelly, I think it’s because there is so much about this industry we can’t control–so many things that keep the glass ceiling in place. It’s easy to fixate on it, but what we really need to do is let go of it all and concentrate on breaking through the glass using the tools we have.
Leslie, I’m glad the past made you stronger. Everyone should chase their dreams and only change focus when they themselves feel it’s time and they can do it without regret.
Marion, you got it!
Carrie, thanks for commenting!
Stina, you are one of the most put together and focused writers I know. You have drive and determination, and when you know there’s an area you need to work on, you don’t hesitate to act. You are the embodiment of hard work and taking control!
Again everyone, thanks for the great comments. I really do believe this is something that we should be able to discuss without judgment. We’re all in the same boat, all headed for the same desitnation, and there will be storms on the way. Sharing your experiences is such a help to me and my journey.
Stina Lindenblatt says
I love this post!
I haven’t had those ‘why not me?’ feelings yet. I’m still excited about my friends’ successes, no matter where they are on the writing pathway. Even when one of my friends has the best title, cover, author blurb, ever, I still get excited. If I’m green, then it’s a beautiful shade of green. But that’s because I know how hard she worked to get there. You can’t be jealous of that. You can only admire them and hope to do the same, which includes all the points you mentioned, Angela.
Awesome post and great advice! It’s important to work on what we CAN control in all areas of life.
Marion Sipe says
Personally, I’m a planner. I lay out a plan to goal, follow it and expect to get where I set out to go. For me, the key to overcoming impatience (as much as I have 😀 ) has been accepting that it’s not something I have any control over. I can’t lay out a neat little plan that will absolutely end with me being published. And it was all those years of intensive planning that led to more and more frustration on my part.
All I can do is write, crit, edit and submit. The rest isn’t in my hands.
Leslie Rose says
This post is so true! I gave up acting years ago because I wasn’t patient and didn’t deal well with the endless auditions and rejections. Luckily those days helped me start to grow the thick skin you need to hang in there with writing. Never give up if you love it!
Kelly Hashway says
Excellent post! I love your advice. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we can’t control. We have to focus on what we can do. I think I’m going to have to bookmark this so I can reread it the next time I’m stressing out about something that’s out of my hands. Thanks!
Thanks for writing the exact words that I needed to read today. I’ll consider it a sign from the universe, and carry on instead of giving up…
Becca Puglisi says
This is such great advice for so many areas of life. There are always situations where we seem to be not doing as well as someone else, or not progressing as fast as we want. Focusing on the negative is never good and is always a choice. Thanks for the reminder!
I love the list of Can-do things! I’m taking a webinar this month and also might take a poetry class to keep learning.
Like GnR says, “All we need is just a little patience
Said, sugar, make it slow
And we come together fine
All we need is just a little patience” 🙂
Great positive affirmations!
Shannon O'Donnell says
Wow. Thanks, Angela. You are 100% right about focusing on the things we CAN do. It really did help me when I was finally able to turn my thoughts to a new project. And diving into writing books (I bought Save the Cat! and The Fire Within) motivated me as well. Great post. Thanks for always being here.
Susan R. Mills says
I totally relate to those feelings of joy mixed with a little bit of envy and frustration. Patience is the hardest thing to maintain on this journey for me.
I love the idea of conquering impatience by focusing on the things you can control. We all definitely get impatient, but this is a very helpful cure for it!
Jacqueline Howett says
Great Post Ange! Everyone is on their own path, from birth to death. Its just that old river journey that takes you here and there before you reach your own destiny in the process. Sometimes strange thoughts pop in to test us all, especially through so so so many years, and spirits may even try to trip one up. Don’t listen to them – only listen to the good postive stuff. Who needs that. Sometimes it comes in so easily and we get sucked in, especially writers. Yeah, there’s one on your left shoulder and another on your right from time to time. Now who are you going to listen to? Make sure you hear: Dont listen to them.
and I quote your words:Fight by putting your energy into things that will lead to your success!
What a wonderful post. I totally agree with you. The only way we are not going to succeed is to quit.
I have many vices but impatience is the worst.
I try to look at it this way: it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, I drive myself crazy (bad) but on the other hand, impatience is a great mover and shaker in my life. DO IT NOW is not always such a bad approach to writing. After all, writing is eminently put-off-able.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Angela!
I’m just now seeing others I know getting published, getting the perks of fan mail. It helps me to know that they worked hard to get where they’re at and I keep reminding myself someday I’ll be there. I may not enjoy the same success but then, I started writing with the hope of having one person touched in some small way by my writing. I’ve done that through my critique group. Now, I want more. It’s the little steps that count. Great post!!
Good advice Angela! We definetly need to remember that every day.
Charlie Pulsipher says
Thanks Angela! I really liked the little (yet). That is just as important as patience and focusing on what we can do, that little chunk of hope. Hope is all I am sometimes, small and quiet, clinging to the idea that someday I will publish my words. It keeps me going.
Funny Stuff I Write And Draw
Too true. As much as you want your friends to succeed, you just can’t help secretly wishing it was you, when they do achieve something… But the only certain way to never achieve anything is to give up.
Angela Ackerman says
Looks like this post really struck a cord. We all feel that negativity at some point, no matter where we are or what we’ve accomplished. I think it’s a part of writing, so the trick is breaking out of the cycle as quickly as possible and turn it into fuel to succeed.
Thanks everyone for the comments. You are not alone–remember that!
AMEN! Take control! Some of it IS in our hands!
What a great, encouraging post. Thank you. I needed this, I think. In fact, my husband and I were just talking about this – I related it to writing while he related it to his passion and craft – woodworking. It definitely does us no good to focus on things overwhich we have no control. It’s so easy to do, that I can use a daily reminder. Thanks again!
Angela Felsted says
Great, wise advice.
Christine Fonseca says
Such a great post! And focusing on the things we can do instead of stressing over the things we have no control ove…PERFECT!
I love this post. Love it.
Bish Denham says
Great post Angela. You know about my struggle…your words help.
Terri Tiffany says
Thank you for this encouraging post. I think it’s a great reminder to remember there is always something we can do:)
I’m speaking at a conference in March and plan to talk about your blog and the great way you have broken down details.
I like it! Take charge of what we _can_ control and especially like have courage and keep on putting “it” out there. Thanks!
Laura Pauling says
I don’t know any writer that hasn’t been down that road! And we have to fight giving into the discouragement. I watch a movie, read books and get motivated. I think it’s also important to realize that the ups and down are part of the creative process but we don’t have to give in to them. Great post, Angela!
Andrea Mack says
This is so true, Angela. It’s really hard to ignore those impatient feelings, but I think your three strategies are great ones. Just keep writing, just keep writing…