A Study In Patience

Photo by Ambro

Anyone close to me will tell you I'm not a very patient person. I get annoyed by long lines and timid drivers. As a result, the irony of the fact that I love writing and seek to make it a career has not been lost on me.

If you're a writer, you know what I'm talking about when I say it's a study in patience. We spend anywhere from thirty days to thirty years penning that manuscript, but that's just the first draft.

Several weeks need to be set aside for substantive edits. Then we research the market before sending our baby out to an agent or editor. Guess what happens next? Yep, more waiting to see if the manuscript was well-received. If not, we have to backtrack to correct what we did wrong. If the agent/editor likes it, congratulations, we move on to the next round towards publication.

Every phrase of writing, from the first draft to getting a contract to preparing the book for launch, requires more stamina than a seasoned marathon runner.

If that were a writer's only exercise in patience, we could probably handle it to some acceptable degree. But we have lives outside of writing that we can't neglect. And this is where Satan really loves to try our patience.

He'll whisper in our ears about family. "You're not a good wife [husband/parent] because you spend time writing when you could be with your husband [wife/kids]."

He'll snicker at us when we tell people that we're writers. "Are you kidding? Dickens and Steinbeck are writers." Or, the one many of us struggle with, "You can't call yourself a writer unless you're published". Not true at all.

Satan will even trick us into doing his work for him. "I have no business trying to write." "This will never go anywhere." "I have to justify my writing so people will take me seriously."

So what can we do to combat Satan's wiles and have more patience with our writing?

  • Remember the Scriptures.
"But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:25

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us-yes establish the work of our hands." Psalms 90:17

God is establishing the work of our hands every day, whether we've just started writing or are on our twentieth novel. If we're committing our writing to Him, then it is not a waste of time. God does not give us worthless pursuits. He will bring good to our lives from the stories we create, regardless of whether they become published.

  • Tell Satan to shut up.
He's not omniscient. He can't see into the future. He doesn't know what glories God has in store for us. We owe him no explanation for the dreams God has given us. Therefore, we don't have to entertain the doom and gloom thoughts he tries to throw our way.

  • Keep doing what you're doing.
People compare writing a story to birthing a child, but sometimes it feels like a whole generation could pass through the maternity ward before our books see the light of day. We need to keep pushing, anyway, resisting all the negative thoughts telling us that our work is in vain.

I wish there was a book out there called Learn Patience By Yesterday, but patience comes through persistence and trial and error. Praying for guidance and finding true supportive friends helps.

Now I'm just going to apply this to my road rage, which is a story for another time.

How do you handle impatience?