When we first start venturing down the road to becoming a published author, there are many, many, many aspects of this writing life that we don’t know. Some things are fairly simple–such as writing craft techniques that’ll make your life so much easier–but others are the kind of stumbling blocks we didn’t know were there until we’ve already tripped and smacked our heads on the pavement. *re-applies ice packet to forehead* The pain! OMG, the pain!!
I set out to write an article for a project with my local RWA chapter, and in the process of writing one article, this idea manifested: What if I could go back and give myself 10 pieces of advice? What would they be? The first and obvious answer to that, my friends, is patience. *sighs*
You mean I have to be patient? I don’t wanna be patient. I wanna be a bestselling author right now! *cries*
Yeah, about that, Mr. Yoda. We live in a day and age where we can get just about anything instantaneously. Need a new book to read? Buy it and download it immediately. Don’t want to drive to rent a movie? Order it via your cable provider. Need something hot, fresh, and fast? Pull through the drive thru. Don’t want to do your own grocery shopping? Order your groceries online so someone else can do the shopping and load the stuff in the car for you. Oh wait … is that last one just me? 🙂
The one thing that hasn’t changed is the publishing industry. Especially traditional publishing in the time-wise sense. The publishing industry, whichever route we choose to take, has never been a “get rich quick” career. It can take years to hone our craft to the required level, and even then it’ll probably take us another year or so to snag an agent. Then some more time to snag a publishing contract. Then a bit more time before we see our book on the shelf.
In this business, I truly believe it is all about timing. The right story with the right voice hitting the right agent or publisher at just the right time.
Self-Publishing’s No Different
The market’s competitive on the self-publishing end. And in order to have a competitive edge, we’ve gotta do the work, build our audience from the ground up, and invest in our product. The patience factor comes in when we, again, spend years honing our craft, take the time to find the right editor and cover artist, and then, if we don’t want to hire someone else to do it, we need to learn how to
pull our hair out format our novel. (Note: I haven’t ventured into self-pubbing myself, but this is what I’ve deduced from the conversations I’ve had with those who have. 🙂 ).
So What Do We Do In the Meantime?
Ah, now that’s a great question! All of the advice we’ll find out there says that we should write. Just write, that’s all. But there’s more to it than just writing. Writing’s just the start to avoiding the impatience monster.
When I first thought about how to put this advice in the best way possible to my newbie author-self, I immediately went back to this fantastic post from Kristen Lamb last month on embracing the meantime. The basis of my ideas on what worked best for me still fall inline with Kristen’s. I just ended up putting them into a different format. Then I tweaked a few things here and there to give myself a few more ideas on what to do whenever I got stuck. Then I ended up posting these on the wall in my writing space so I wouldn’t forget. 🙂
So, during the wait, here’s what I’ve been doing in the meantime–starting with WRITE:
- Write through the wait: Plot and write the next book. This is the basis of why we do what we do. We LOVE to write. This is the key to keep trucking down the road to publication. Tina Moss wrote about this very thing last week (and she moved forward 😉 ).
- Reach out: Talk, socialize, chat, email, etc. with the writing community. Both Tina and Kristen’s posts suggest reaching out to our fellow writers. Other writers will have been there, done that, and got the shot glasses. Who better to understand our frustrations with patience than someone’s been through it before? But it’s not just about finding someone to complain to (which shouldn’t be why we’re on social media, by the way), it’s about networking and creating lifelong relationships with others who understand our journey better than anyone else–even our significant others.
- Ignore the impatient monster: When the impatience monster creeps in, keep busy. Ignore him. He does not deserve our attention. We can ignore him by moving forward, or by reading a book in our chosen genre (research, right? 😉 ), by re-designing our website (heh), by taking a writing class, by talking shot on the phone with our critique partner for give hours, or by learning a new writing technique … and so on, and so on. Never allow the learning to stop. There’s always more to learn. We’ve just gotta be ready and open to embrace the new knowledge and wisdom of others. If we’re doing that, then we’re too busy to even worry about waiting.
- Take a break: This is the perfect time to watch a movie, catch up on our TV shows, go work on the garden we’ve been neglecting, or do that fancy new workout program we’ve been
dreading dying to try. Movies and TV shows don’t have to be simply for entertainment. If we tune in the writerly part of our brain while watching, we’ll learn what to do–or what not to do–in our work (plots, characterizations, body language, dialogue, etc.). And we might want to forewarn the fam before they sit and watch TV and movies with us. 😉
- Encourage and give: I’m a firm believer in encouraging others and giving more than we take (and I’m still working to become even better at this). And the impatience monster? He doesn’t like it too much when we busy ourselves by talking and encouraging other writers, nor does he like it when we give more of our time than we take from others. So the waiting period is a good time to offer a Beta Read for a fellow writer. Or be one of those shoulders to cry on when another writer is frustrated with their wait, or when they receive a rejection letter, or when their plot just isn’t working, or when a character refuses to open up. With both of these routes, we’ll not only be helping another writer in need, we’ll also learn LOADS more about ourselves and our writing than we ever thought possible. 🙂
So when impatience starts creeping in and we’re getting agitated about not seeing a huge improvement in our progress toward publication, we should practice patience and WRITE.
Because if we don’t have the patience of an
insane nutbag saint, the road to publication will be bumpier than the country dirt roads of the Carolinas.
And besides, waiting is fun. It’s the in-between time that we should be enjoying because that’s where the magic truly happens. 😉
I’d love to hear from you! How do you practice patience? Do you find it difficult, or is it starting to get easier with each new project? What would be your first piece of advice to your newbie-self?