Patience is not a thing that comes naturally to me. As a kid and as a teenager (and even as an adult if I’m honest) I would try things, and if I wasn’t passably capable at them right away, I’d just tell myself I had no talent for that thing and move on. Practice was only for people who already had some talent, so they could get even better. It was just a waste of time for a talentless hack like me.

In other aspects of life it manifested as anxiety over things not happening fast enough, frustration with people not doing things the way I wanted them to, and anger at myself for not being able to do whatever it was I thought I should be doing. I can’t deny I still suffer from these things on a regular basis.

I’m learning writing needs a lot of patience. Sometimes it only needs a few minutes as I stare at a paragraph I wrote, figuring out what the next sentence is. Sometimes it needs a few weeks so I can put a draft aside, work on something else, and come back to it with fresh eyes. Sometimes it needs a few years while an idea stews in my head, waiting for the story to show itself. Case in point: I’m currently writing a story that is sourced in a dream I had when I was approximately 17. That idea’s been waiting a long time for its moment.     

There’s a need for patience with things outside myself too. Sometimes too many people want to share things in one of my writer’s meetings, and I have to wait another week before I can get the feedback I want. It’s no one’s fault, everyone deserves their time for input. It’s just life, but my instinct is to rage against things I can’t control, and I’m learning to temper that. I need patience when I submit things, trying not to bite my nails (literally and metaphorically) as I wait to find out if I made the cut.

I’m also learning the value of practice. The things I’m writing now are, without question, better than things I wrote a year ago, and so much better than things I wrote three years ago. Realizing that, I sometimes get upset about how much time I lost not writing, and wonder how good I’d be now if I’d been practicing for the last 20 years. That kind of realization takes me back to patience, as I have to practice patience with myself, and remember that every past version of me was doing the best she knew how at the time, as the current version of myself is doing now.

              I’m getting better at practicing patience in writing because it’s been truly rewarding to do so. It’s also easier to do because writing is something I truly love (which isn’t to say it’s never hard work). I’m hoping that repeated rewards for patience and practice in writing might eventually convince me that patience elsewhere in my life might also pay off. Time will tell, I suppose.

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