In Writing, Patience Rules All

There are a million lists of do’s and don’ts about writing out there, pages of advice and tips on writing for every step of the way in the publishing process. I suspect many out there spend as much time trying out different ways and processes of doing things as they do on getting stories written. There’s a fairly lucrative business out there on how to go about making it in the crazy world of trying to become a published author. Most of the time, it’s one person’s opinion on what has worked well for them or it’s a compilation of best things found out there in the writing world. The thing is, writing is subjective, like all arts. What works for one, is complete failure for another. Other than a few basics, like character, conflict, and good grammer, there are about as many ways to write well as there are writers.

I could create a tip sheet, some bulleted points on what I do as a writer. Some might find it useful, while many would not. No matter what I would put on that list though, no matter how many ways I might organize it, one thing would always top the list. Patience. If you don’t have it, you likely won’t make it in this business. Relative to most activities in our modern world, writing is a sluggish pursuit. It goes against the convenience and “get it now” mindset our culture lives in. There is no quick part to writing, at any step in the process. From development to publication, everything takes an incredible amount of time in publishing. Even in the DIY world of self-publishing, things take time. Accept this fact. Nothing you do can or should be quick.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have issues with patience. Once I get the story fully developed, I want it out on paper right then. Once it’s written, I want to send it off right away. I’ve experienced the firsthand results of this. Dozens of query rejections. Lots of editing and rewriting. Another concept one can always adhere to is, “everything can always be done better.” No matter what you write, it can always be better. In order to do things well, you must have the patience to make them better. Whether it’s plotting, editing, cover creation, blurbing, query letters, and what have you, the simple fact is, you have to be willing to take your time.

One of these days I’ll talk about some of the specific things I do with my writing, but really, I have only one significant piece of advice to writers. Have patience in all things writing. Take the time to learn and get better, because if you put things out there before they are ready or good, readers will notice and you’ll doom yourself before have a chance to get there.


3 responses to “In Writing, Patience Rules All

  1. Thanks for the great advice, Jim.

    I am definitely guilty of pushing unready material and always cringe when I see a way to have written a query or a scene(s) better after submitting.

    I’ve also found that reading different blogs, like yours, just before I write gets me pumped up to get after it. Sometimes though, I spend more time warming up than in the game.

    I’ve read that one shouldn’t resubmit a project to an agent, who has already rejected it, even though the project has gone through a total revision (including a slight genre change) that takes the story in a different (better) direction. Is this true? And what if there is a title change involved?

    Thanks again!

    • As a general practice, agents don’t like resubbing the same project, but…if the work is significantly different than before, most, I believe, will take another look. However, the work has to get by the querying stage first and get some pages read. My suggestion here, since you have changed it a lot, is write a new query and change the title. I’d say it should also be a good three months since you last submitted the work.

      I submitted Deadworld more than once to several agents (rejected each time). I rewrote Deadworld from first to third person so it was a very different feel. Needless to say, my query writing prowess leaves something to be desired. It was only after an editor liked it and wanted it that I got the reads from agents. Hope this helps. Good luck!

      • Wow. So, Nathan heard about Deadworld through that editor??

        And thanks for the great advice. I have already written a new query (thanks to Nathan’s awesome help) and think I’ll go ahead with the title change as you suggested. That’s a good call. I also cut about 15,000 words, which should help shake it up as well.

        Thanks again, Jim!