What does patience mean to you?
Patience comes in many different forms. I seem to be patient in all the wrong ways and in none of the ways that matter.
For instance, I submitted a few query letters today, and I’ve been obsessively checking my e-mail since I sent the last one. Yeah.
So now I just have to sit and wait to hear back from someone. The one I really want to hear back from won’t reply for 3-6 months, so I’m not looking forward to that wait…
But there’s another type of patience I want to talk about, too.
Some people are far too patient when it comes to writing. They only work when inspiration hits them.
You can’t do that. It’s not okay.
If you only write when you have inspiration, you have no variety and no experience.
I only want to say this one time:
FORCE YOURSELF TO WRITE.
Find writing prompts and do them.
Find at least a few writing prompts you hate. DO THEM.
If you sit around and wait forever for inspiration, it will never come. Okay, it might. But it will probably be just once. Or maybe even twice. And you may get lucky and have it happen multiple times.
But that’s utter crap, and if you don’t know it, then it’s time for you to understand it.
That’s how wishy-washy people work. Writers, not simply people who write, will work even when they don’t want to. Writers don’t wait for inspiration.
Writing is a craft.
Do you think wood-workers only build stuff when they suddenly have an idea for something new and original?
No way. They build chairs and stuff that people need because people need them.
Either people need your writing, or you’re wasting your time when you tell yourself you’re a real writer because you only write when you’re inspired.
Writing is something you must hone by continuing to work on it over and over.
I spent some time thinking about my queries today and realized that my original estimation for how many short stories I had written was pretty low. And by low, I don’t mean it was a low number. I came up with 35 originally, having counted the ones on my computer and added in the ones I only had on paper (I made a guess because I have no idea how many there actually are, but I think 35 was kind of low to begin with). But that was just for the past nine years. I forgot about the ones I wrote from ages 7-12. I’d have to say there are somewhere between 40 and 50 of those. So I’ve written somewhere around 80 short stories over the span of my life. And even then, that may be a low estimate. I say it’s somewhere between 80 and 100. But how do you include that when querying an agent. Who would believe that a college student who is almost 22 has written a whopping 80 short stories? So I just went with 35. Because seriously? Who would believe me? And who cares about the ones I wrote so long ago? I do. I count them. But in my queries, I don’t. Because that’s the kind of thing that sounds like exaggeration. It’s not. Like I said, 80 is a low number for my guess. It’s probably more like 95.
Yeah, I don’t write every day. But I am prolific. You can’t tell me I haven’t spent a LOT of my time over my life honing my craft. Writing is what I do. I am a writer.
Either you’re a writer or a wanna-be. A wanna-be makes excuses. And sometimes I make excuses, too. But I can back myself up–I write a LOT. I didn’t even include just how many poems I’ve written or how much stuff I’ve done for my drama writing class.
I don’t spend all my time writing. But I have cumulatively spent a lot of my life doing exactly what I’m doing right now.
Crud. I should have included in my queries that I have a writing blog. Oops.
It’s a process. It’s a practice. You can always get better. And I do. Because I practice. I work. I challenge myself. I edit. I re-write. (Okay, not so much of the last two.) I write as often as I can get the energy for it. Which isn’t often enough. But I’ve still put in the work.
They say you have to spend 20,000 hours doing something to become a master at it. Am I there yet? I have no idea. I really don’t. But I’m just going to keep going and going and going because I want to get better all the time. The world of reading changes every moment of every day, and I can’t afford to fall behind.
And neither can you. So stop beating around the bush and making excuses, and just get on with writing. Or don’t waste your time.