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The poem Piers Plowman, written in 1360 by English poet William Langland is said to have the line, ‘patience is a virtue’. A virtue I have yet to acquire. John Quincy Adams, 6th president of the United States, put it simply, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish”. A true statement when it comes to writing. I, myself, would love to write a bestseller at the first go round, however, (back to quoting my buddy again), John Dufresne said, “The purpose of the rough draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.” This quote is on my bulletin board above my desk. I read it many times over while sitting at my desk. It is also my mental mantra. To change this thinking requires patience and perseverance. Keeping this in mind will at least get your rough draft done.

I would have to say that all aspects in a writer’s life (writing, editing, proofreading, publishing) require a significant amount of patience. So, if you have patience in your toolbox at the get-go, you are farther along your journey than most. If you can master patience in your writing, you have it made in the real world. Afterall, we are waiting all the time in traffic, stores, doctor offices, emergency waiting rooms, work and I’m sure you can think of a dozen more.

A few ideas that have helped me practice patience::

  • One thing I do to combat waiting is I write. I always carry a small notebook in my purse and I write. Remember a couple of weeks I spoke of spare characters? If you see a colorful person or behavior, jot it down, it may come in handy up the road. Or continue your story; you can type it later.

  • I have a mindful crystal that I use to keep me focused. I suffer from debilitating anxiety and become overwhelmed easily. These crystals (or you can use some other item) bring my mind back to the now. By having something tangible in my hand, allows my mind to slow down, and teaches me to be more patient.

  • Learn when things are out of your control. Remember years ago before cell phones, if someone told you they were going to call you, you sat by the phone and stared at it? Banishing others from using the phone? The phone would ring (or not) regardless if I was staring at it or not. Once your story is in someone else's hand, it is officially out of yours. Putting your life on hold waiting for a response does nothing for you. Take some deep breaths and continue on. The more you practice this with your first work, the easier it gets on your next because you have learned patience.

Over time you will develop your ideas to improve your patience. Remember, “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting” —Unknown

I found this quote today while googling ‘quotes about patience’ and I will tell you, this is going on my bulletin board too.

Next week (and the last in our toolbox series): Don’t underestimate the power of a library

Until next time…

Work Cited:

Dufresne, John, The Lie That Tells A Truth, A Guide to Writing Fiction, W. W. Norton and Company, New York, 2003

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