The Fine Art of Conquering Impatience

 Today’s guest post is by blogger and writing instructor Angela Ackerman. I felt the topic of impatience would be appropriate now. Around this time of year we often look ahead to next year—and look back on the goals we’d hoped we would reach this year but failed to. Sometimes we enter a new year with a sense of frustration and impatience, wishing we could just get “there” already—reach those milestones we’d aimed for. Now’s the time to reevaluate and plan our strategic course as writers for the next year (all of December’s posts will be focusing on how to strategically plan your goals for next year). But it’s also a time to reflect on the many small successes we’ve had, and those who have been an encouragement in our journey.

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.

Where’s My Reward for All My Hard Work?

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.

Don’t Just Sit Around Fretting

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 and 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 and negativity cloud your head space, TAKE CONTROL. Fight by putting your energy into things that will lead to your success!

Angela Ackerman writes on the darker side of MG and YA and is represented by Jill Corcoran of The Herman Agency. She blogs at The Bookshelf Muse, a description resource hub for writers. Her book The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is an invaluable guide for writers to covey emotions in a believable and fresh way. Get her book here!

 

8 Responses to “The Fine Art of Conquering Impatience”

  1. Susannah MacDonald November 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    This article is more timely than you would imagine! (Or perhaps not!) It is the same for the visual arts, as at the beginning of the year I fondly imagined that I would have finished the project at hand. That goes for the writing projects as well. So back to ‘Don’t sit around fretting’!

    • Angela Ackerman November 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      I’m so glad this came along when you needed it most! As it happens I had to take my own advice after discovering my book was mysteriously pulled from Amazon. After much hand wringing and frustration as I wanted for answers, I realized the best thing I could do was let go of it as it was out of my control, and I turned to something else. So hurray for both of us!

  2. Angela R Sargenti November 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Thank you for the kind words of advice. I really struggle with this issue. My husband says I’m the most impatient person in the world.

    • Angela Ackerman November 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

      It can be so hard to be patient, especially in this industry. I don’t think there is a single part of the process that isn’t slow, except perhaps deadlines! But the waiting can be hard. Turning our energy to other things is a great way to make use of our impatience and create something positive from it! 🙂 Happy writing!

      Angela

  3. Eric E. Wright November 27, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Wow, do I need patience these days. It seems to take forever to get a book into the hands of readers…the traditional route.

  4. Chris Hollaway November 27, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Great tips, and they can also be applied to success. Don’t get complacent, get help to do things that do not require your creativity directly. Prioritize, delegate, and keep moving forward.

  5. Angie December 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    That was beautifully written. Thank you so much. It really spoke to me.

  6. LK Watts December 2, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    What a great post! I am the world’s worst worrier and sometimes it really gets me down. But most of the things I worry about I have no control over so it’s a pointless exercise. My new year resolution is just to cocentrate on the things I do have some control over.

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