Putting Up with Impatience

A couple weeks ago I was having dinner with a group of novelists (who also happened to be my clients). We were talking about the terrible waiting that’s always involved in publishing. At every step of the journey, whether you’re agented or not, published or not, there seems to be a huge need for patience. The waiting sometimes gets unbearable.

We bemoaned the difficulty of developing patience. Is it even possible, or just wishful thinking?

Then my sweet friend Christy Truitt spoke up. “I don’t think I’m getting any more patient. But I’m learning to tolerate my impatience better.”

Wow! What a cool insight, and a terrific goal: To be able to exist in a state of impatience, and be okay with it.

To be waiting, and longing, and frustrated that it’s taking so long (whatever it is) and still be okay, still have a measure of peace.

To me, that seems like a more realistic goal for writers, and possibly a healthier one. After all, we don’t want to completely lose the impatience, because it’s part of what drives us. It creates a tension inside us, and as we strive to calm the tension, we’re working towards our goals. You could even say that the impatience keeps the fire lit beneath us.

What would it mean for you, to stop trying to be more patient, and instead tolerate your impatience better?

Taking it one step further, how can you use your impatience and actually benefit from it?

Thanks, Christy, for the great thought!
.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

56 Comments

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  3. Laurie on September 30, 2009 at 8:57 AM

    >This post is exactly what I needed to read this morning, although the impatience I've been feeling is not over writing. Thank you, Rachelle, for giving me a thought that helps lift the burden.



  4. Jack Roberts, Annabelle's scribe on September 30, 2009 at 6:24 AM

    >True words. Somethiong to think on.



  5. Jamie on September 30, 2009 at 5:29 AM

    >The problem with impatience in one area of life – it spills into all areas. (At least for me.) If I'm stressed about waiting — a phone call from someone I need to include in an article — that tension taints my patience with my husband and children. For me, it is a constant turning over and failing to turn over at times. I am impatient. Until, I completely rest in Him. (Which isn't very often btw.)



  6. Tamika: on September 29, 2009 at 10:02 PM

    >Rachelle,

    "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

    I trust God to oversee the desires of my heart and perfect them to match His will and plan for my life, today I can safely say that is to write.

    I am deeply engrossed in the moment from day to day at how He opens another door to this experience. Meeting new people, stumbling across a fabulous blog, or maxing my word count in record time. With Him the possibilites are endless.

    I just want to enjoy the ride.
    Blessings to you…



  7. raballard on September 29, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    >patience is checking you inbox a million times a day, and not calling your internet provider to ask if your email is still fuctional.
    patience is not going postal when you find out that your dream agent has responded to another query in nano-seconds, knowing the agent has had your query since the dark ages.
    patience is trusting the light at the end of the tunnel is a possitive thing after you've been ran-over by train after train after train.
    patience is still searching for the rainbow, when all you've ever gotten is soaked from the rain.
    patience is wishing upon the same star, and dreaming the same dream as milions of talented writers, without giving up.
    patince is trusting your future on a stranger believing your dream should be the dream shared with the world.



  8. Dineen A. Miller on September 29, 2009 at 5:49 PM

    >I think Christy's onto something. One thing I'm learning to recognize is when I start to feel this push to something, anything! Almost like a panic, to make something happen. Usually it's triggered by seeing so many colleagues moving forward in their careers while I feel woefully left behind. That's a dangerous place to be. I've learned to see it and just start praying right there on the spot. I think the enemy uses that against us too. So, yes, I think we can recognize that we're impatient, yet keep a balance in trusting God for the timing and details.

    The trickier question for me is when should I "do" and when should I "wait"? 🙂



  9. Victoria Dixon on September 29, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    >Maybe I've finally learned my lesson about impatience, but it's not bothering me much right now. After I blew through my twenty best agent picks without noticing how many queries I'd sent out – well, now I've slowed down. LOL. Hard won lessons.



  10. Andrew on September 29, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    >Impatience is our fierce overseer for life in the world.

    Patience is our wise teacher for the life to come.

    I know who I want to listen to…and too often, do not.

    Back to work on snow fence design. BIG sigh.



  11. A J Hawke on September 29, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    >Christy Truitt "I don't think I'm getting any more patient. But I'm learning to tolerate my impatience better.”

    This would make a great poster for my office.

    A J
    ajhawke.blogspot.com



  12. Jill Kemerer on September 29, 2009 at 2:23 PM

    >I used to try to run away from lousy feelings, but now I wallow a while then transfer those feelings to my characters. If I don't know how impatience feels, how will my heroine? Thanks for the great post!



  13. CMOM Productions on September 29, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    >I appreciate that thought! Learning to live with our impatience does seem like a much easier way to deal with it. Now, I just need to determine how to pass this train of thought on to my boys. :o)



  14. Katy McKenna on September 29, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    >Bex says working with sensitive animals inspires patience. The same thing is true of helping the elderly. Many old people have reached the age (and disability level) where they'll tell you straight up that they're "waiting to die." But the impatience of their younger years has usually simmered down to a nice manageable level.

    When I'm caring for The Moms, I put my impatience with my own life's goals on hold. It has no place at all in that situation. They need me to be even-tempered, dependable, focused, and faithful. Not fidgety, in a hurry, or apt to rush them. Helping them has required a discipline of me that I had not learned any other way.

    I'm trying to apply the Peace of Abandoned Impatience to my writing life, as well. I think it's possible…..



  15. Dara on September 29, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    >Wow, that's the first time I've heard of tolerating impatience better 🙂 I'm always told to learn to be more patient, whether that's with writing or something else.

    Hmm, I guess my answer to your question is to try and focus on something else while waiting. I'm not at the point where I'm waiting to hear back from agents or publishers, but I'm thinking I would at least try and focus on a new project just so I don't go insane waiting.

    That works with other areas too–I focus on something else. That's about the only thing that ever gets me through my impatience, even if there are many times it doesn't work 😛



  16. lynnrush on September 29, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle.
    At the ACFW they sang the song, While I'm Waiting, by John Waller. Little did the musicians know, that's been my favorite song for months and months now.

    It helps get me through the waiting. It actually reminds me that there is more I can do than just wait. I can seek out God's plan. I can write. I can pray. I can build our craft.

    My friends ask me, "Holy cow, how'd you write so many books in the last sixteen months?" I respond with, "What else is there to do while I wait to see what God's plan is for my writing."

    I love to write, so why not study the craft and write a ton while I wait?



  17. Heather Diane Tipton on September 29, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    >Ok, I know that applies to writing…

    but holy cow I needed that to apply to the rest of my life today.

    Great thoughts, Rachelle, thanks for sharing



  18. Rosslyn Elliott on September 29, 2009 at 11:47 AM

    >Whenever I need to remember what waiting does for me, I look at the lives of those who have never had to wait, strive or develop patience.

    Child stars, for example. They're notorious for flaming out spectacularly in their teens, turning to drugs and wild living that ends up causing them tremendous pain.

    They don't have self-control because they've never had to learn to delay their gratification, to put off what feels good and instead endure the long haul of humble work.

    Quick success is not good for us. It tempts us to feelings of superiority and to a lack of sympathy for others. I may struggle with the wait at times, but when I look back on it, I'm always glad that I had the chance to "build character," as our grandparents used to say. 🙂



  19. Bex and the Bookends on September 29, 2009 at 11:40 AM

    >If you want to learn to be patient, try working with sensitive animals. Nothing teaches you to control your impatience better than a traumatized horse. If you don't take things slow and manage your own reactions, the horse will let you know (and you might just get hurt…).



  20. Jessica on September 29, 2009 at 11:22 AM

    >What a cool way to look at it! Smart lady. 🙂



  21. Kim Kasch on September 29, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    >Sometimes I feel like the waiting is driving me crazy 🙁

    Then I just accept the fact that I've already been driven there and I'm parked in the driveway – still waiting. . .

    😉

    Better to just accept the facts and sit there reading a good book 🙂



  22. T. Anne on September 29, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    >Of course I have to agree with Anne L.B. partly because everything she says is brilliant, partly because she speaks my heart so coincidentally well 😉
    Everyday Christ seems to be growing me in some inexplicable way towards acceptance and away from the frustration that is bred through impatience. Focusing in on Christ doesn't hurt either.



  23. Stephen Duncan on September 29, 2009 at 10:17 AM

    >A timely post for me. I'm not so much learning to benefit from my impatience, nor, I suppose, tolerate my own, but I am trying my hardest not to inflict it on anyone else. Which, I guess, allows others to tolerate me. Different means, same end. 😉



  24. Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God on September 29, 2009 at 10:13 AM

    >Good morning, Rachelle,

    I sit here with a little mea culpa smile on my face. I was reading the posts with a smug feeling that I was happy to be where I am in my writing life. I know I am in for the long haul and I am enjoying the scenic ride. In the middle of reading the comments, I got interrupted – for an hour – and what pops up? You guessed it, that old nemesis impatience. I want what I want when I want it – let me get back to my computer – NOW!

    So yes, impatience is part of my life, too, in spite of my mistaken belief that I had conquered that foe.

    Thanks Christy and Rachelle for reminding me that I have not yet arrived…

    Be blessed!

    Lynnda



  25. Anonymous on September 29, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    >If the news is good, then I'm very impatient–but if it's bad, it can wait.



  26. Teri D. Smith on September 29, 2009 at 9:26 AM

    >Wasn't this what made the song choice of "While I'm Waiting" at the ACFW conference so appropiate?



  27. Reesha on September 29, 2009 at 9:26 AM

    >I'm at the stage where I have two WIPs but nothing ready for publication. Very new to the whole writing game.
    When I read about the publishing industry, sometimes it does make me impatient.

    It's at times like that I remind myself that in thirty years when I have a few books published, Lord willing, and am struggling to get time away from raving fans, e-mails, speaking engagements, and being famous, I'll wish for the days when I was unpublished and just writing.

    Then I'm a little more patient and enjoy the stage I'm at currently.



  28. Heather B. Moore on September 29, 2009 at 9:10 AM

    >Great thoughts. This is so true. My first manuscript was a 27 month process to publication. I have one manuscript that is 39 months into the process now.



  29. Matilda McCloud on September 29, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    >I'm pretty impatient and when I start to hear what one writer's book calls the "ticking clock" (I have to get my book out there now!), I need to tolerate my impatience so I don't send my ms out before it's ready. This is an ongoing problem–I'm still working on it!



  30. David Teems on September 29, 2009 at 8:48 AM

    >Just got a 2-book deal with Nelson. Am I buzzed? Absolutely. Still, from drafting the proposal to polishing the proposal to pitch to nibble to bite to negotiation to deal memo to contract to depositing the advance, right up to the ahhhh at the finish, heaps of patience is required. Waiting is part of the business of publishing. And I hate waiting. I wish I had some clever advice, or at least some trick of speech that sounded like advice, but I don't.

    And though I hate waiting, part of the process of writing, of the craft itself is waiting, or at least it is contemplative, the involuntary wait, a close second, allowing the unconscious to deliver the goods.

    Waiting meddles with my psychology. But waiting can be an excuse to actually write. By the time I sign the contract, because of the wait, a quarter of the book is done (at least in draft). The muse has labored, and so have I. Waiting just gives me more time.

    Writing, or the inspired play of making a book, remains in center. Hey, I'm grateful to be doing this at all. I will do whatever is asked of me. It is a small price to pay for the satisfaction of the craft. To sit down every morning and do this? And know there is a paycheck at least somewhere in the distance? Are you kidding? It really doesn't get any better than this. It is the life I pursued, and, I suppose, waited for.



  31. Billy Coffey on September 29, 2009 at 8:08 AM

    >I find that my impatience creeps in whenever I start to get a little lethargic. If I'm working on something, I can usually occupy my mind well enough so that it's present but not a hindrance.

    I really, really like Christy's comment. Learning to tolerate my impatience might be a little easier more beneficial than striving for patience.



  32. Marla Taviano on September 29, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    >Apparently, I can read your mind. Did I not just write you yesterday saying, "I am sooooooo patient"?

    Very timely post for me as I wait for a sweet agent to let me know what she thinks of my proposal.

    I go back and forth between thinking she's going to say a.) it's brilliant or b.) it's hideous, and I might as well give up writing altogether.

    When, in all actuality, she probably has 43 other things she has to do first.



  33. ginny martyn on September 29, 2009 at 7:58 AM

    >My impatience with writing reminds me of a certain Howard Jones song…

    “You can look at the menu but you just can't eat…you can feel the cushions but you can’t have a seat…

    And you want [it] and [it] wants you…"

    I don’t think sad soft rock is going to solve my publishing problems but it certainly is cathartic-in a pathetic Hall and Oates kind of way.



  34. Catherine West on September 29, 2009 at 7:56 AM

    >Though I have had umpteen lessons in this subject, I still haven't managed to achieve a passing grade. The only thing that gets me through the times of waiting is to keep busy and do other things. I find when I am waiting for news to come, I'm really tempted to question myself and my abilities, and whether or not I'm really on the path God wants me on. Especially when the news comes and it's not what I hoped.
    SO I have no answers here. I struggle with it. Interesting insights from everyone else.



  35. Robin Archibald on September 29, 2009 at 7:50 AM

    >Like Wendy, I’ve recently been given the gift of time and focus for my writing. I’m deeply grateful, even though that gift could only come at the loss of something precious.

    But there are other parts of my life where I so badly want, and need, to see things change. But I know they won’t, not soon anyways. So I am grateful for everyone’s wonderful words about handling impatience! In the end, it will be in God’s time and in his way. And as some of you noted, there is both good and bad in the waiting, and there will always be something to wait for. So I need to abide and grow during this time.



  36. Patience-please on September 29, 2009 at 7:38 AM

    >When I was a student nurse, I was required to attend an AA meeting as part of our psych training. The member on my right said, "Hi I'm Susie, and I'm an alcoholic." The gathering said, "Hi Susie!"

    Susie went on to say she had been praying for patience.

    My turn.

    "Hi," I said. "I'm Patience."



  37. Katy McKenna on September 29, 2009 at 7:32 AM

    >Gwen–I LOVE your comment here.



  38. Janna Qualman on September 29, 2009 at 7:07 AM

    >Very wise! And I think, in most cases, tolerance can only lead to better things.



  39. Marybeth Poppins on September 29, 2009 at 7:05 AM

    >That is a wonderful piece of advice! I think I have learned to tolerate my undying impatience quite well. I've come to terms with the fact that it is part of the writing world. I'm always going to be impatient, but knowing that I am not the only one seems to make it a bit easier.



  40. Katie Ganshert on September 29, 2009 at 7:00 AM

    >That is an excellent thought, especially for somebody like me, who struggles with immediate gratification. It hasn't been easy for me to wait to submit my manuscript since returning from the ACFW conference. Even though my fingers are itching to send it out, I'm practicing "being okay with impatience" as I do my best to make this manuscript shine.

    This reminds me of something my high school guidance teacher told me. I was telling him how frustrated I was. And he said, "Let yourself be frustrated. What's wrong with that? Just don't let it turn into anger."

    It's probably good for writers to be in a state of tension. Maybe the tension will seep into our writing. 🙂



  41. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought on September 29, 2009 at 6:41 AM

    >I am right here.

    I have been able to swallow a different approach. I've been given time, time to improve my writing, time to rethink some things, and time to focus. It is so easy to lose sight of the GIFT of time.

    I'm appreciating that gift as I wait.
    ~ Wendy



  42. Sharon A. Lavy on September 29, 2009 at 6:37 AM

    >I am more impatient with myself. But I am doing the best I can. So yes I can accept my impatience.

    Great thoughts, Rachelle. Thanks.



  43. AmyBoucherPye on September 29, 2009 at 6:17 AM

    >Love Gwen Stewart's insight!



  44. Katy McKenna on September 29, 2009 at 6:12 AM

    >Here's how I read your second sentence with my early morning unfocused eyes:

    "We were talking about the terrible writing that's always involved in publishing."

    Terrible waiting is one thing, but terrible writing might be the greatest cause off all-around impatience ever. Um, how long till I get BETTER at this??? Can we hurry it up a little? 🙂 🙂



  45. Hunter on September 29, 2009 at 5:48 AM

    >Very thought provoking. I shall ponder this strategy.

    In the meantime, I'll be singing "Patience" and dancing like Axl Rose all day today.



  46. Timothy Fish on September 29, 2009 at 5:09 AM

    >If the goal is to benefit from impatience, I may be in trouble. I can't say I have a complete lack of impatience, but I will say that mostly it is in short supply.



  47. Clare S on September 29, 2009 at 4:59 AM

    >I am, in general, a horribly impatient person when it comes to not knowing, waiting for an answer. If I know what's coming (eg, my Birthday), I can deal with it, but if I'm waiting to hear yes or no, I'm bouncing off the walls whining about how I want to know now.

    I try to harness that energy for good and use it to go and do something else more productive. I tell myself that I'm not going to know until the time comes to know, but if I do something all-consuming in the meantime, the time will go all the quicker.

    All-consuming activities are generally reading good books, watching great films and trying to write better stories.



  48. Gwen Stewart on September 29, 2009 at 4:52 AM

    >Taking it one step further, how can you use your impatience and actually benefit from it?

    I was telling a friend the other day that I'm a mezzo-soprano. We must find the notes between the perfect notes, between soprano and alto. We sing the notes of dissonance. And we must drive straight down the center of those wrong notes with conviction and even a little bit of anger–the notes don't belong, they're off, but they make the ear long for the right resolution to the chord and they add depth and angst.

    I'm a good mezzo. I have the voice for it and I love those "off" notes. Impatience is like that. I say, find the center of it and drive a stake through it, sing it for as long as it takes to get to the resolution: the completed book, the contract, whatever. Hang on to the dissonance! I think it's the writing-place.



  49. Tabitha Bird on September 29, 2009 at 4:11 AM

    >What helps the waiting is knowing that (wait for it *insert drum role her*) there will always be another opportunity to wait. Life is full of waiting. You get to find out who you are when you have to wait… sometimes it ain't pretty 🙂 But you will get another chance to hone to patience. ANd why is it that something you have waited fro then finally get always seems so much sweeter than something simply handed to you before you could think to ask? Hmmm…



  50. writer jim on September 29, 2009 at 3:30 AM

    >It would be very helpful to anyone to go to Strongs Bible Concordence on your computer and study the word patience.

    Importantly, we cannot become a truly mature Christian without gaining patience. Yet, it's great to know that God understands our struggles with being patient; and He knows we have a limit to our patience. After all, patience is a major attribute of God: and He has a limit to His patience.

    I've had experiences concerning God's patience. One man I dealt with was a terrible mocker of God; he bravely and publicly showed disdain towards God. Yet because of his praying wife, and God's great patience: God performed an astounding miracle right in front of the man and me. It terrified the man, and caused him to repent and receive Christ immediately. He became a wonderful, humble, and powerful Christian.

    God was certainly patient with that mocker. But the Bible also says there is a limit to God’s patience. Accordingly, time and again God has ordered me to warn other mockers of prompt death. They all died soon; as quickly as 30 minutes. It is a sobering thing to see happen. People experience the reality of an Almighty God when they see it.



  51. Skeptic on September 29, 2009 at 2:45 AM

    >Sometimes I feel impatient when others believe I'm the most patient person they've ever known.

    I encounter that a lot at work (in psych). I feel grouchy and irritable, but it never ever shows through in actions/words. On a scale of frustration, writing "impatience" is nothing compared to what I have to face at work.

    I worked with a brilliant psychiatrist about 20 years ago who used to always tell me that the best way to combat those feelings is to do something else for a bit – whether it's stepping off the unit or getting on the treadmill for a run. Distraction is a great technique.



  52. Andrew on September 29, 2009 at 2:31 AM

    >I don't have children, but try having twenty dogs…

    As I write this (playing hooky from writing a report to New Mexico Dept of Transportation on snow fences) there is an Australian Shepherd puppy whose bladder is on a 45-min. timer, and he usually barks AFTER the timer has gone off.

    How do puppies…and babies…hold THAT MUCH PEE????????

    And his sister is tearing up a book…sigh.



  53. Sulci Collective on September 29, 2009 at 2:14 AM

    >25 years at writing and still waiting…

    Having children does wonders for developing patience



  54. David F. Weisman on September 29, 2009 at 2:11 AM

    >Someday I may be as patient as your friend – but I can't wait anymore. I want patience NOW!



  55. Andrew on September 29, 2009 at 1:24 AM

    >It's an old problem…

    O, that a man might know
    The end of this day's business ere it come!
    But it sufficeth that the day will end,
    And then the end is known.

    Shakespeare, Julius Ceasar, Act 5 Scene 1

    I used to be the most impatient person on the planet, but enough of life's rapids have taught me that the bad passes away, along with the good, all at the same pace. Maybe it means the fire's not there; I don't know.

    But I do know this – that all being impatient has ever done for me is to make me look to the future, and past the real beauty, love, and joy that was before me.

    There are moments that I have lost, priceless moments, because I was too impatient to stop and care for them.



  56. Anne L.B. on September 29, 2009 at 1:12 AM

    >Goal: To be able to exist in a state of impatience, and be okay with it. THAT sounds like the way I feel about the Lord's return! So … I guess I can apply it to publication as well.

    I like this one, too:

    "Patience is not so much about waiting, as it is about how one behaves while waiting." ~ Anonymous
    (From @haywoodstubble /Dave Miller via Twitter)



I love words.

I love books and publishing and talking incessantly about them.

I love authors and all the intricacies of managing a writing life.

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