Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to be Patient with your Writing Career

One of the core triggers for a writer’s insecurity is impatience. There’s a certain desperation to become published. We catch the dream with visions of bestsellers lists, book signings and our book with a snappy cover and our names written across the jacket. This dream, when we let it bloat into the realm of unrealistic timings and overinflated goals, can become our downfall.

This writing dream is a distant location with a long and often arduous journey to get there. We forget the travel and decide all we want is the destination. We want to be a writer more than we want to write.

We forget the joy of writing, the pure pleasure of creating something from nothing, the magic of conjuring worlds and characters, evoking emotions in others, being able to touch people with a poignant scene, to make them laugh or cry and get involved in the story. We’re too busy wanting to get published, wanting to get noticed, wanting to quit our day jobs, or whatever else it is we want right this very instant. When it doesn’t happen fast enough, we start to think we aren’t good enough and will never be good enough. The doubts start to set in and bam, we’re insecure and unproductive. We may even toy with the idea of quitting.

Talent is not a factor when it comes to writing. Some might disagree with me, but I’ll stand by this. A person with a boatload of talent, but is easily swayed by their doubts, won’t go as far as someone with less talent, but a mountain-load of drive. Natural born talent might get you started and might gain you some early accolades, but it won’t help you cross the finish line.

There’s only one way I know to be patient and that’s to enjoy the writing and to just keep writing and doing everything you can to improve. The hike will always be easier when we love it. If we don’t, then we’ll drag our feet and everything along the way will become that much harder.

Daily ask yourself what you want. Daily fall in love with your manuscripts. Enjoy the storytelling process. Be a slave to your stories. Delight in the lack of sleep because you have to wake up in the middle of the night to write down an idea.

You are a writer. Rejoice.

How do you remain patient with where you want your writing to go?
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This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month (I’m day early because of the A-Z Challenge). To join the group or find out more, click here.



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I’ll be taking part on the A-Z Challenge via the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website. Today I’m kicking the challenge off with a short writing tip: A is for… Applying Yourself as a Writer.

You can also link your A-Z posts in the IWSG Facebook threads we will provide.
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I’d also love to share the exciting news that one of my wonderful critique partners, and an amazing writer, Carol Riggs, has signed a contract with Angry Robot’s YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. Her book, The Body Institute, has gone to a brilliant home after a ‘competitive bidding situation’. You can read the announcement here on Publishers Weekly. Congratulations, Carol!


119 comments:

  1. I'm a slow writer - I have to be patient!
    The published book isn't the destination. It's just one of the things that happens along the way, because there's a lot more before and after. And it's all fun.
    And thanks for kicking off the IWSG's posts in style!

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    1. I'm a slow reader and writer, but we both compensate and get there in the end.

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  2. I am a big rewriter and patience is definitely not one of my virtues. I am trying to get more patient, get more realistic with my writing dreams and get more organised with my writing itself.

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  3. I shove doubt aside and keep working. I enjoy the process, when I have a new idea and I go with it. I was pre-published for many years, so I know how to be patient.

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    1. As I've said before, you are a true inspiration.

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  4. I write slowly. I've learned to try to exercise patience as I learn the process of what it means to truly finish a book. Just when I thought I was done - there comes the time to do edits! =)

    Elsie
    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

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    1. hehe, yep, edits have a way of never ending. Or so it feels at times.

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  5. Good theme and post, Lynda. For sure, we need more than talent to make it as a writer. Patience and perseverance are important ingredients on the journey, Congrats to Carol.

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  6. It's the journey that matters most. Enjoy the steps getting to publication, because once you hit that point, you can never go back.

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    1. I think it's the advice I hear most from published writers: enjoy the time you have now before you get published.

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  7. Oh, good gosh, I suck at this part of writing! I'm so hard on myself, at times, that I discourage the heck out of my progress. Grrr... So thankful for the writer folks in my life. They always talk me down from the ledge.
    Sheri at Writer's Alley

    Home of Rebel Writer CREED 2014
    Mighty Minion Bureau Team #atozchallenge

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    1. you and me both, Sheri. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies.

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  8. I have definitely been guilty of all the things you've mentioned here. Slowly but surely I'm pacing myself a bit more now, and enjoying the process of concentrating on one thing at a time.
    I'm finishing more projects and have even submitted a couple, which has shown me that patience does win through.
    It's taken a while for me to get to this point, but I think I'm on the right side of it now.

    And congratulations to Carol!

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    1. One thing at a time. I like that. Good luck with your submissions.

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  9. talent is, sadly, never enough.... in any profession...

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  10. Patience as far as getting things done, I hate, want it done and out of my hair. But as far as the waiting game afterwards, I'm fine with that. And yeah talent doesn't always win out

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    1. Yep, I'm the same. Once it's out of my hands, I don't mind waiting.

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  11. I've learned patience but we can all use more of it. Enjoyed your post at IWSG

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  12. I think it helps curb the impatience if I have a plan, but that might just be me. I'm sure others might get more anxious if they have to stick to a plan.

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    1. I think everyone is different. It's about what works for you. I work best when I have a plan also.

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  13. I think one reason a lot of people are eager and impatient to get published is that we hear a lot about people who are "overnight success stories" (though for many of those people, their success didn't actually happen overnight). And there are a lot of writers who achieved success at a young age, like Lena Dunham, which makes other writers feel like they're "behind".
    I've never been published, but I keep writing because like you, I love writing. It's something that no one can take away from me, unlike so many other things in my life.

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    1. I have yet to hear a true "overnight success" story. I can relate to the age issue, though. But ultimately it doesn't matter.

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  14. Having patience is tough. I'm never satisfied with myself, or how long it takes me to get things done. Huge congrats to Carol!! Woohoo!! :)

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  15. Wise words, Lynda. They show you truly know the ropes of writing. Even when we get published, we had better have enjoyed the journey because the financial rewards won't make us rich any time soon. :)

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    1. I would've quit a long time ago if I didn't love writing as much as I do.

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  16. This is great on so many levels, Lyn! Very true. Some people don't have to wait long to be published, but some of us do (and thanks for the mention about my TBI contract!). :)

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    1. As you know, I'm super excited about your book. Again, Congrats!!!

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  17. I think that you are right. Persistence and commitment to the craft of writing can surpass natural talent. Not everyone with natural talent has the tenacity to see this thing through to the end.

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    1. Whenever I see a writer with talent start to fall away, I cry a little on the inside.

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  18. Very well stated. There are some with more talent than others, but those who love the craft can improve with practice.

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    1. There's always room for improvement. I once heard an established writer say some aspects of writing couldn't be taught. He put emphasis on natural talent. Made me sad.

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  19. I think at some point we all lose some of the passion but you have to push through in the sure knowledge it will come back (at some point). A strong work ethic helps.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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    1. That strong work ethic will get anyone through.

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  20. Great post, Lynda, full of such important reminders. Why do we write in the first place? Because it's a special love we feel for the process of capturing stories and getting them down. And, while I want my novels to get published, I have found that in the long, patient process, they do get better, and I would much prefer the later versions are out there to be read than the early versions. :-)

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    1. exactly! I want only my very best out there.

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  21. I agree that impatience is a definite issue for writers, althoguh not so sure about your statement on talent. Perhaps it depends what you define as "talent." I don't think most writers would get into writing if they didn't intially have some talent, no?

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    1. I think it's more about the level of talent. I've read some manuscripts which ooze with talent even though the writer was somewhat new to the game. And I've read others which didn't shine with a natural wow factor. Both types of manuscripts weren't ready for publication.

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  22. Great advice to fall in love with your MSs. I love mine and even though I finished one I am ready to embark on two more. But they will be novellas and about half the word count.

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    1. It's good to power on and keep that momentum going.

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  23. Patience is very hard for me. I'm struggling with my WIP and want it to be done yesterday. When it's not I start having all those doubts creep in. This was a great post for me to read today. :)

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    1. I think every writer can relate. Hope the post helped.

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  24. Talent is not a factor when it comes to writing.... Lynda, are you saying there's still hope for your blue friend?

    I tried to write a book once and then again . The first time I hadn't made a backup ( I know), the second time I couldn't reproduce what I had lost and I gave up. (I know...)

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    1. There's always hope for you, Blue. Even when... you know :P

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    2. P.S. Come find your show at my show :)

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    3. Your show was awesome. I feel honored to be included. Thanks, Blue :)

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  25. Patience is something I have in abundance! It's taken me four years to get to where I am now. Definitely worth it.

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    1. Four years sounds speedy to me. I know many writers who have taken substantially longer.

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  26. Years and years for me and it's persistence, and once you're published talent means nothing if you can't market! Getting the word out is also a talent, something some of the worst writers have in abundance and the most talented writers struggle with. No guarantee's anywhere - but if it's a dream - never let your dream fade!

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    1. That's a great point about marketing. That's an interesting phenomena too. I wonder why that is.

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  27. Lynda,

    What a lovely and inspiring post! Writers need to enjoy the journey. If they don't, they will probably never be satisfied. Thank you!

    Mary Montague Sikes

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    1. and an unsatisfied writer is no fun to be around

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  28. I very much agree with you about talent. While good, and helpful, talent isn't as important as determination and hard work. Talent won't get you there alone.

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    1. exactly. Talent is nice to have, but it won't get us to our ultimate goals.

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  29. Nice post. I think this is so true for any creative field. The best is not to rush and to take it one step at a time.

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    1. I think in photography it's especially true. Many of my photos are crooked because I'm too fast to take the shot.

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  30. Not sure how much more patience I can stand! Having to put one novel on hold while writing another has been tough. But you can't keep writing novel after novel without being in it for the love of writing. :)

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    1. I don't doubt your novels will be worth the wait.

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  31. Wonderful advice. I didn't have much patience when I was younger, but I'm getting better as I get older. The journey makes it worth while.

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    1. It's funny that. When we're young and seem to have all the time in the world, we're impatient. It's not until we get older, with less time, we learn the virtues of patience.

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  32. Thanks, Lynda, for hosting this month's Insecure Writer's Support event. I just joined and you're the first post I'm reading in the event and it's very much in line with my thoughts: we need to fall in love with our manuscript, our characters, our story. Otherwise, how else are we going to make our readers fall in love with our characters if we're not in love with them? Cheers!

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    1. Welcome to the IWSG!! I'm not exactly hosting this month, but I am an admin for the IWSG website. It's great to have you onboard.

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  33. Lovely post! As far as talent goes some of us are on the short end.:-)

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  34. Whenever I have doubts, and I'm full of them, I read how-to manuals on writing. They are informative, but the best part is they inspire me to do better. Personal challenges and not dwelling on what I can't change get me through the rough spots.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. How-to manuals can be hugely inspiring. I think it's because they make this writing gig we do less intimidating.

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  35. Ooooo, you struck a chord with me. Someone with talent but with doubts may not go as far as someone with drive but not much talent... I'm too old to still be so full of doubt...

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    1. Yeah, I feel the same. I think our doubts never fully go away. But we can learn to manage them a little better.

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  36. Doubt often drives us to nowhereville. It is the hardest thing to have faith in oneself and not let fear dictate. I am always amazed when people can write and do something creative and not lets doubts take control

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    1. It's often just a matter of forging on despite the doubts.

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  37. Luckily I"m very patient. I've seen too many rushed books out there not to be! Right on, Lynda!

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    1. It's a shame about those books because they have so much potential if only the author had been patient.

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  38. Congrats Carol, I have looked at the website in the past and Strange Chemistry has a great selection of books.

    I love this part of your post and agree entirely with it.

    We forget the joy of writing, the pure pleasure of creating something from nothing, the magic of conjuring worlds and characters, evoking emotions in others, being able to touch people with a poignant scene, to make them laugh or cry and get involved in the story.

    I believe this is part of the reason I ended up delaying Sacrifice HER this year, I got so wrapped up in getting it out that my love turned to hate. I'm slowly turning around but I have not touched it since my post about the delay. Yup need more time. But I'm writing other things so that's a plus. I'm a writer first and I could never imagine totally turning against all writing and losing that special magic of creating a new world of character with your mind and a pen.

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    1. Your book will be better for the wait. And it's good you are continuing to write.

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  39. I think talent is important - it definitely isn't enough on its own though. We have to actually do the writing too.

    I am impatient, but I'm getting better at not giving in to it.

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  40. You are so right and I so fall foul of this impatience myself. I strive and lumber on, but do try to take even the smallest glimmer of hope to heart. That way, I'm energised afresh when otherwise I'd flounder in my own self-loathing (which isn't pretty).

    As for your friend Carol: I just love to hear great news like this. Brilliant achievement. X

    shahwharton.com

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    1. ha, self-loathing is never pretty. Hope helps, as does hard work.

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  41. I don't think anyone is as slow a writer as I am. Took 7 years to write my first. I'm into the 2nd year with my 6th. I've tried lighting a fire under my butt, but that didn't even help. Though, I do have a lovely tan now. Great post, Lynda!

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    1. I took 9 years to write my first. lol. I would only write in fits and starts and whenever inspiration struck. I'm considerably faster now.

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  42. Wonderful article. Patience is not one of my virtues. I get irritated when things aren't going the way I want them to. Must remember to love my manuscript, even when the characters are doing their own thing and not listening to me. :)

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    1. Characters have a way of doing their own thing.

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  43. I really like your point about talent. I'm breathing a sigh of relief, because I'm not the most talented but I can work like a war horse. And I love seeing myself improve, although I wish it would happen at once. But we must have patience.

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    1. being able to see yourself improve is brilliant. You'll do well :)

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  44. I love the exercise of writing. I've never tried to have anything published. My writing releases me...releases my stress. I write in fast spurts and then, I'm done for a while. Now, reading is a different story. I read slowly, envisioning the characters and the scenes. Not too happy about finishing my books, as I want the story to continue~

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    1. I'm a slow reader too. It's a wonderful indulgence to just sit and read.

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  45. This is an awesome post. Thank you. It's just what I needed to hear today! :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Margo. Thanks too for the tweet.

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  46. Awesome post as always, Lynda. I have little talent and academic counseling when it comes to writing. You are correct. I've worked hard, improved my writing, persevered, and I'm am still doing so. Because I love to see the story enfold before me. When I find myself suffering from the drudgery of it all, I step back and wonder if I'm doing the right thing. I need to fall into love with it all over again...and I do...

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    1. Often a mini break or a new project will help to reignite that passion.

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  47. Wise advice, Lynda. It is easy to get caught up in the quest for the end product and lose sight of the joy that can be found in process of getting there.

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  48. I love your post. There's so much truth to what you said.

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  49. Patience is something I have a lot of, since I have an almost child-like ability to think everything's going to work out in the end if you keep going. Every once in a while though, when I'm at my lowest, I still wish the process would go faster, just so I can see that it really will work out in the end.

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  50. YES! I absolutely agree with you. Why do it if we've lost the joy in it? Talent can take us so far. The rest comes from hard work and perseverance.

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    1. I don't think I could do it if I didn't love it.

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  51. I love reading your post:)

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  52. Great post! I constantly struggle with wanting to write and needing to work out of the house.
    I have just fallen back in love with my WIP. Getting up an hour earlier was tough but I'm starting to enjoy it!
    doreenmcgettigan.com

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    1. Those early hours can be crucial. And falling back in love with a manuscript is one of the great joys.

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  53. Words of wisdom and you've hit the nail on the head. Or at least mine. Patience is not my strong suit, and it often leads to bouts of self criticism and doubt. At least I know I'm not the only one!

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    1. I think most writers have a level of impatience. It's because every process of writing is slow.

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  54. What does one do at 5:00 in the morning after only one cup of coffee who's not quite ready to write? Go a'bloggin', that's what. Very good post on patience, Lyn.

    Slow and steady wins the race...as long as it doesn't stop you. That drive must be there. Have a great A-Z!

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    1. Thanks, Mike. Is there truly such a time as 5am? I thought it was a myth...

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  55. 'There’s only one way I know to be patient and that’s to enjoy the writing'

    Perfect and lovely.

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  56. this is so good to remember, but so easy to forget! Publishing seems like an unrealistic goal most of the time. On good days, I'm pumped! On frustrating days, it doesn't seem worth it. The highs and lows of a writer, I guess. :-) I just 'liked' your facebook page, so I can stay in touch. I'm writing a book about a Christmas project for families, and might need your input at some point. Come visit me, if you'd like:
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adventures-in-the-Ballpark-Marianne-Ball/394038163950377?ref=hl

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    1. Yep, you described the highs and lows well.
      Thanks so much for the like. I'll check out your page.

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  57. If you're a gifted writer, that's great. If you're not gifted, perseverance and determination are key. (And frankly, some gifted people have a hard time practicing those virtues.)

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    1. Perseverance and determination are key no matter the level of talents. And yes, it's not always easy to practice.

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  58. I needed to read this post today. I've stopped altogether after getting a succession of nos.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.