What It Takes: Patience

Blog Post 55 What It Takes PatiencePatience. We need it badly, but it’s in short supply in today’s world. What with on-demand this and that, fast food restaurants, and instant messaging, we find ourselves snapping our fingers at anything that doesn’t immediately jump at our bidding.

If anything is an antithesis to today’s world, it’s writing. You can’t craft a good non-fiction book or a novel overnight. You can’t rush the process.

Where in the process of writing does patience play a role?


Becoming a writer requires patience. The vast majority of writers don’t make it big with their first novel. Most likely, they wrote many manuscripts that never saw the light of day. I have. One of my writer friends told me one time that an author must write a million words before her craft reaches a point where it’s ready for viewing by the public. I agree. My first novel, Exiled Heart, probably contained my millionth word. And guess what? The learning never ends.

The preliminary work for a novel requires patience. Even before beginning a manuscript, you must take the time to research; to get to know your characters; and to work out the conflict, plot, and other critical aspects of a novel. It may seem to take forever, but the work you do during this preliminary period will pay off as you get down to writing the manuscript.

Drafting the manuscript requires patience. Never think that your rough draft is the final product. Most people would laugh and say, “Well, duh!” I guarantee you that out there somewhere is a writer who thinks that her first draft is what should go to print. Going this route could seriously jeopardize a budding writing career. On the opposite end, it may seem like the revision and critique process may go on forever. It doesn’t. I promise.

Getting your book out there requires patience. Getting the word out about your book may make writing it seem like the easy part. At times, you may think you’ll never spread the news to a widespread audience. That’s where I am now, and I feel your pain if you’re a bit frustrated. That’s okay. With each novel you produce, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. Then you’ll begin to broaden your reach.

Growing your writing career requires patience. Most writing careers aren’t born overnight or in a year, maybe even several years. It takes lots of time to grow a career. Let it develop naturally.

So how to have patience?

Here’s a few bits of advice I have:

  1. Give lots of thought to your expectations. Don’t expect to become David Baldacci or to land a big-time publishing contract with your first book. Remember that writing is a tough, very human business that will not yield predictable results.
  2. Live a well-rounded life. It’s easy to let writing take over your life. Avoid that if you can because if you do, you run the risk of thinking that the novel is all that matters. Arrogance can grow from such an attitude. Approach your writing at a pace that feels comfortable to you, especially if you work fulltime. You may have other obligations such as a job, family, and friends. Making those you care about a part of your life will keep them supporting you as your writing career gathers momentum.
  3. Wear a thick skin. Writing is a tough business because with each novel you draft, you leave a little part of yourself in those words. When you think opposition surrounds you, especially in the form of well-meaning people who try to talk you out of writing, make positive phrases people have told you your mantra. Mine is as follows: “I know I have the craft. People who matter in writing have told me.”

I’ve found advising on how to have patience to be difficult. When you want to give up because the road is long, remember that each step you take in this writing journey will lead you closer to whatever goals you have set.

I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  The work mentioned in this post is of my own writing.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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    The Conversation

  1. Sylvia says:

    Thank you Jennifer. Great advice. I enjoyed reading.

    • Jennifer Haynie says:

      I’m glad you did. I hope that these posts inform and encourage, both at the same time.

  2. Jen, I love your site, and am looking forward to reading your books. Just downloaded one from Amazon.
    Hope all’s going well with you