Why “Be Patient” Is Crappy Advice for Writers

be patient fishing writing

One of the quirks of being a writer is that you often have to wait weeks or even months to get a response back from editors or their assistants. This isn’t all their fault. Many of them are swamped with hundreds or even thousands of submissions a month, and they have other responsibilities other than combing through queries. In fact, there’s been a major reckoning within publishing houses about employee treatment and workloads. Because of this situation, though, writers almost always are told they need to be patient. Cast your line from the pole and then sit and see what happens. Good things, the saying goes, come to those who wait. But there’s more to the story.

Productive distractions

Waiting as a writer is inevitable. But you don’t have to be patient, per se. What you do need to do is find a way to make the wait seem smaller and more manageable. And by far the easiest way to do that is to just keep writing. Put another way, working on more projects provides a healthy distraction that makes time seem to pass far more quickly. What’s more, the more you write, the more paths for success you carve out for yourself. Every article or book, every email–it’s all potential for long-term connection and, subsequently, income.

A delicate balance of quality and quantity

Now, this doesn’t mean that you just write about whatever pops into your head. You need to do your homework and consider what’s popular and relevant, or there’s not going to be much interest no matter how beautiful the prose is. A well-constructed, multi-tier strategy matters. You absolutely write pieces that you’re both passionate about and that have some market shimmer. And one well-researched, empathetic, convincing piece is always worth more than a dozen fluff pieces. You can’t ignore quality in the name of productivity.

Don’t “be patient”

Broadly speaking, there’s no need to sit around and waste time. If you have many irons in the fire, query response windows will pass without almost any concern. The big benefit there is less stress. Giving yourself something to do and consistently setting new goals all the time keeps you optimistic and prevents you from ruminating on “what ifs”.

So don’t be patient. Instead, act as if you already have the green light to proceed, that you must proceed. Because you do. And success in this industry absolutely depends on persistence. Submit. Then find a new topic and get back to work.