Most people are familiar with the saying, “patience is a virtue.” In an effort to be better than our egos, we try to extend our patience and wait for the benefits to fall into our laps. Unfortunately, we’re often discouraged by anything that doesn’t pay off immediately. After multiple rejection letters from contests and literary journals, continued writing projects that just don’t end up the way that you imagined them, and nights spent writing things that ultimately don’t end up in your novel, it gets harder to believe that patience works. We’re all ready for our ‘big break’ as a writer, and the longer it takes, the less hope we have for the future.
Something to remember is that you’re not alone in your struggles! Your peers, and even big name writers, have all experienced that same dissatisfaction with how long it takes to get recognized. The good news is that there are things you can do to get you through those moments when you’re questioning everything:
- Enjoy the journey.
A common offense of impatience is focusing too heavily on your ultimate goal. While it’s important not to lose sight of your final destination, it’s equally as important to not get so engrossed that you forget to enjoy the stops along the way. Whenever I get too caught up in my goals, I try to refocus on the smaller things in my life. How can I work a conversation from class into my next short story? What can I do to make my work read more relatable? By turning my priorities away from the goal towards the work that actually has to be done to reach the goal, I’m able to find the fun in my writing. These little moments that you have before your work gets greenlighted – from getting praise from your editor, to finishing a draft you think might be the last one before the final draft – are things you need to appreciate, because they’re the stepping stones that got your target. Which brings us to our next point.
- Celebrate the small things.
As you’re working on that story that’s going to launch you to stardom, don’t forget to be proud of the little things you accomplish along the way. The first time you finished Nanowrimo successfully, winning a flash fiction contest at your university, or being asked to speak at a conference are all things that, while maybe not your main goal, are awesome things to celebrate and commemorate your journey as a writer! Showing gratitude for those experiences, as well as pride for your accomplishments, reminds you that you are making progress.
- Remember why you started writing.
When our heads get too clouded by the prospects of awards, money, or recognition, we can forget the real reason why it is we’ve become a writer in the first place: we love it. In a world where many people don’t pursue their passion, we’re some of the lucky ones who made that choice to do what we love. We all reach that realization I different ways, but those feelings, personally, are what started it all for me, because it’s what makes me feel like me. Remembering that your goal, whatever it may be, is just a temporary state of success, reminds us that the real goal is to keep doing what makes us feel alive. And that’s what really counts.
While I can’t promise that any of these things will magically make your impatience fade away, I can promise that a little perspective can go a long way when you’re waiting for your moment to shine. As long as you’re doing what you love and growing in your craft you’ll get what you’re aiming for. Just remember patience is key.