Patience, One Key to Unlocking a Great Story by Barbara Townsend

imagesWriters dream that a reader, an agent, or a publisher will fall in love with our words. All too often a writer will send that story to agents, to publishing houses, or click “publish” before it’s ready. Then the author wonders why their precious words are rejected, sales are low, or the reviews are scathing.

One obscure cause for the disappointment could be the writer’s lack of patience. Patience is a necessary and an oft-times overlooked element that gives our brain a rest. After a break we can review our work with a clear mind and sharp focus.

Patience equals time, and nowadays we don’t allow ourselves much of either. Unless an author is naturally gifted, rushing headlong through the writing and editing process is a setup for disappointment. We’re so close to our story we don’t catch inconsistencies in pacing, a nonsensical story arc, or a sentence that makes perfect sense to us but to a fresh mind it’s gibberish.

At some point an author must seek beta readers to inspect the work and provide feedback. This waiting period is a great opportunity for a writer to clear the mind.

Rewrites require concentration. Many of us don’t like the thought of rearranging our perfect words, particularly when beta readers recommend a massive rewrite or, worse, discard large sections of text. When the critiques arrive, writers sometimes disregard the feedback with “You just don’t get it”.

Some writers believe their message is so important that it can’t wait for editing. I’ve read about authors who, upon receiving feedback about poor grammar, reply that their message is so important that a reader who truly “gets the message” will ignore the imperfections. Even other writers say perfect grammar is overrated—only the message is important.

The message may be intelligible in the writer’s mind but, to the reader trying to comprehend the words for the first time, is the message actually clear? For example: on the Internet, forums or comment sections abound where an issue is being discussed. A debater states an opinion, but it’s so poorly written the debater’s position is incoherent. Regardless of importance, the message is lost.

The desire to launch the result of our hard work, time, and passion is reasonable. To dream of holding the physical book in our hands, receiving kudos, watching our book’s sales numbers climb, and seeing royalties deposited in our account are understandable. Without patience—the cleansing deep breath allowing us to see anew our work—chances are the book may be rejected, languish with no sales, or the only feedback are a few reviews stating, “needs an editor”.

Anyone involved in publishing knows how hard it is to get an agent, a novel trade-published, and the self-published book industry suffers a collective poor reputation.

Producing a book is hard work, but the process provides meaning and joy to an author. We owe it to ourselves to ensure our work is crafted into the highest quality by giving ourselves the gift of patience.


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