One of the things that surprised me most about becoming a writer was how much patience is involved in the craft. It may not be one of the first traits -- or skills -- that comes to mind when you think of successful writers, and in my case when I first started writing, it was certainly an overlooked one.
So many of us decide to become writers because we have a fantastic story idea, but stories don't write themselves. Hours and hours, months and perhaps years, will go into making that story come alive...weaving each word into the right place until the tapestry that is your novel is complete. I was anticipated the needs for inspiration and perspiration, for discipline and curiosity and wonderful bursts of imagination and productivity, even for courage for dealing with rejection and self-doubt. But patience?
I hadn't given it much thought.
But now, after having spent several years writing and pursuing the dream of being published, I've reflected on the value of patience. It certainly isn't one of my strong suits, and my husband can testify to just how impatient I am!
Patience is a writer's best friend. Not just while waiting to hear back from agents or editors, critique partners or friends. I think too often we latch onto patience as a guard against something in the future -- whether it be good or bad. But patience should also be thought of as something that guides us in the moment. It is what makes us mindful while we write, it's what drives us to hone our craft and make it better. It keeps us writing we love to write.
When I was much younger, my father asked me to read Thich Nhat Hanh's book The Miracle of Mindfulness. I'm too much of a daydreamer to ever be good at meditation or training my mind to be "mindful" but the main message of what Thich Nhat Hanh says in the book still resonates with me, and that is to be patient and to be positive.
Of course, he says it much more elegantly than I.
Thich Nhat Hanh: “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
Sundae Takagi, a Buddhist leader, expounds on this: “And above all, mindfulness is about patience. It recognizes that changes need time, and that we cannot make things happen on our desired schedule. And some things are completely beyond our ability to change (as people often are). We can’t make a flower bloom when we want it to. In some cases, it might not bloom at all. But we can set the best possible conditions to support its happening. So we fertilize the soil and provide water and sunshine. Then we must wait, patiently and without expectations.”