Remember the excitement you feel when different ideas come to your mind? You choose the best among them, you start researching, and begin to work on a draft of your text.
Perhaps then you go a bit back and forth, reworking paragraphs, deleting words and lines, adding quotes.
Then you read your work, getting this fabulous feeling that it looks good. So you get ready to hit send or publish.
Stop right there.
That unrestrained flow of thoughts needs to be reined in because it’s a trap. If you don’t think deeper about the main themes of your article, it could be a sign that you have rushed your writing.
You might be thinking your writing is great—trouble-free—because your thoughts rain words and phrases, helping you to work fast. Nope. False alarm.
Getting frustrated and having feelings of giving up are signs I consider positive because that will make you work better by forcing you to take a break.
Working on a highly creative project, like writing, without breaks, might indicate you lack patience.
So let me walk you through the bumps and hurdles that you might encounter in your journey to becoming a writer by sharing my experience on what I lost due to my lack of patience when it came to writing.
Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes and help yourself use your gift of writing to its fullest.
Being an impatient writer had a terrible effect on my writing. First of all, I gained some bad habits: like not developing the discipline to explore and work well on a chosen topic. Most of all, I almost lost the ability to challenge my mind. I became some kind of a floater; looking for work that didn’t require mental exertion.
I now know very well that there are many different steps to working on our writing. Despite this, I never used most of them. Longer articles usually need pre-writing work like deep thinking or lots of research (which was a foe because of my short attention span) and making plenty of revisions.
Exploring an angle thoroughly for all the possible perspectives bored me, and I was happy working with publications that needed just tiny single-angled perspectives. The result? Smaller earnings.
I am not sure whether it was boredom, mental laziness, or mental fatigue because of going too fast, but I found it very difficult to break this habit. It became my comfort zone, and I started believing this was me; this was all I was capable of as a writer.
I actually believed that I was a very limited writer who could not add depth and work on meaningful pieces. Self-doubt is the worst enemy in any field of work, and writing is no exception. It caused me a permanent writer’s block that took forever to shatter.
My mind refused to work because of the comfort zone I had got into, and I went as far as saying no to projects that needed me to work on a bit longer. For example, one publication wanted me to work on a personal essay and proposed a huge word limit followed by a comfortable deadline. It didn’t go beyond the first round of talks.
So, how can we combat writing impatience?
Writing is a mental exercise, and performing it with the greatest concentration possible is one way to wed writing with patience. However, the truth is that patience is a skill you need to develop.
That it’s human nature to become impatient and push too hard when things are not moving according to expectations. Yet this stresses your mind more and, under duress, the mind gets tired. Almost nothing can be achieved with a tired mind. Becoming agitated and intolerant is not going to help.
The key, then, is to learn to recognize our source of impatience.
Perhaps you feel impatient because of comparing yourself to others. If you read and hear stories about how others are completing x number of articles in one day and publishing over 30 a month, maybe you too feel the need to rush your work.
Another possible reason might be that you feel overwhelmed. You cannot escape that great urge to wrap up your work because it’s time to cook supper, go shopping, or fulfill some social obligation.
Developing patience is a challenge for most of us. We are surrounded by distractions, and our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. This leads many of us to give up things we get bored with the moment we find something more interesting.
What we need, then, is to learn how to prioritize our focus.
Submissions are bound by deadlines, and, in our industry, we are known by the deadlines we meet or miss.
But having a deadline does not give you an excuse to rush the project.
To do that, right at the time of committing yourself, you need to be realistic about your abilities and time commitments. And for this to work, prioritizing your focus is essential.
Use some time management skills like setting boundaries or reshuffling your priorities a bit. You could also use organizational tools like desk calendars, whiteboards, notifications on cell phones. Moreover, block out all your distractions, including the temptation to keep checking your phone or browsing social media.
Cut out all things not essential and focus on the content you want your readers to have; the information you want to share. Use your readers as your inspiration, and meeting a deadline without rushing will become a child’s play.
More importantly, keeping a sharp focus will make your writing better by allowing you to dig deeper into a topic.
Being aware of this sneaky trait called “rush writing” is very important, because it contains damaging elements which are a threat to your writing personality. These can quickly turn you into a writer who just skims the surface and fears to go deeper.
Ask yourself, why are you wading in a shallow pool? Preparing yourself mentally to not keep your writing short and brief will help as well. If you’re in a hurry to get to the end by skipping over parts that need more work, then slow down immediately.
As a writer, your job is to inform your reader of all that is available for them to know. If you do things sloppily, you are cheating your readers by not giving them all the knowledge possible.
As I mentioned earlier, I once was an impatient writer; one who couldn’t wait to see the published article. That impatience led me to write short articles because I lacked the perseverance to work on a set topic for a bit longer. Those articles appeared fine to me at first read. And then a second read made me feel I could have included a few missing pieces of information.
If you want to be a writer who is not just about seeing their bylines here and an article published there, and, instead, you are someone who is interested in providing valuable information, you have to try and work on developing patience.
Writing needs all of these: a bit more digging, a little cajoling of your mind to come up with new ideas, looking for hidden or missed information. A step that can help you besides slowing down a bit is to go over your research and interview notes and check if any key idea slipped out while you got busy writing. This vital step seems cumbersome, but it cannot be missed.
Writing needs your love. Writing needs your time because nothing proves your love better than an undivided attention. Giving the gift of quality time to your writing should be your priority.
The magic will happen when the marriage of words and patience happens.
Ranga lives in Mississauga and is a freelance journalist. She has worked as a feature story writer for daily newspapers and contributed for websites and magazines. She is also a published fiction writer. Ranga is currently working on her certificate for Writing For The Web from School of Continuing Studies University of Toronto.