What is the most important skill of a writer? Writing compelling narrative? Crafting snappy dialogue that sucks a reader in? Outlining a complex novel? Developing plots with a twist that will absorb readers? Seamlessly weaving in juicy subplots?
These are all important skills. And we could argue which is the most important. However, in my writing career, none of these were the most important. For me, the most important was the skill of patience. What, you think of patience as a virtue? I contend, in the business of writing, patience is also a skill. It’s simply part of the game; the waiting game. Ever notice how long you wait to hear from an editor, agent or publisher?
And patience is not only required after you submit the piece for publication, it’s required during the writing process. Ever feel impatient writing the scene just before the action scene? Have you struggled to write the middle of your novel because you can’t wait to write the end? Feel like giving up on the writing life because the process is long on effort and short on success? Tired of waiting for a turning point in your writing career?
Gustave Flaubert, the French novelist considered one of the greatest writers in Western literature said, “Talent is long patience.” Stop and think about that for a moment. Let the truth of it sink in.
When I reflect on my writing career, I believe the turning points in it have always been related to patience and perseverance. “Keep writing until something pops,” I tell myself. “Patiently pound the keys. The turning point is one article away.”
Yes, it takes many skills to be a good writer but I believe patience could be the one skill that gets you published. It was for me. The two articles mentioned below are an interesting contrast. I submitted my first story to Chicken Soup for the Soul—Inspiration for Writers a few weeks before the deadline and waited patiently for an answer for nine months before acceptance. I almost forgot I submitted it.
The second story featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Reader’s Choice Edition was submitted a week before the deadline and was accepted for publication a few days later. You never know what is going to happen. So, after submission you embark on another story while you wait.
Flaubert was right, talent is long patience. But it’s also true that while your patience is being tested, your writing is being perfected.
Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Reader’s Choice Edition will soon be released. This special anniversary collection features new stories from readers paired with the Chicken Soup for the Soul story that changed their lives!
I was fortunate enough to contribute to this book with a story entitled, “Lawn Chair Living.” This story is about slowing down and building “pauses” into your life so you can appreciate it more fully.
This fine collection will be available on June 25, 2013 at most bookstores, Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart and online at bn.com and Amazon.com.
This book features 101 inspirational stories on the writer’s life written by your fellow writers. I contributed a story entitled, “A Writer’s Vow.” Want to pick up your writing, pick up this book.