The world has become rotten at waiting well. It’s as though we can no longer fathom the concept of delayed gratification. We want it, and we want it now. Over two minutes standing in line, we grow fidgety and outwardly irritated. We even resent others if their line appears to be moving faster. I witness this behavior all the time lately when I leave the house. On the roads. In stores. Even at sporting events. No one wants to wait and we’ve all seemed to lose the ability to wait well.
As an author who’s gone hard at this writing thing for over eleven years, I’ve learned there’s great value in biding time. Not only does learning to wait well serve you as a person (teaching patience, priorities, and contentment in all circumstances), it’s also invaluable for the life of a book.
So much can germinate when you grant a book time to become all it’s supposed to. Plot has the opportunity to develop. Initial pages strengthen. Characters can take center stage or die off entirely. As a prolific writer who can tackle a rough draft in three to four months, I’m always keeping this in mind—the idea of allowing a novel room and time to grow. I remind myself I’m not in a rush. The book is not in a hurry. Just the other day a new beginning to my WIP snuck up on me. Because I’ve given this book room to breathe, it’s doing exactly that—breathing. Opening me up to an enriched, textured sense of all it’s to become.
Sometimes it helps to view my role as a writer and the novel I’m working on as a cuckoo clock. The bird announces the passage of time several moments throughout the day. Those are the high points. The debut release. The day you secure an agent. But so much of a writing career and a book’s life is what happens during those other minutes—the preparation. Some cuckoo clocks have music that plays leading up to and following the bird’s appearance. Others have turning water wheels and animated figures. No matter what features a cuckoo clock may possess, the guarantee is that there’s always important work going on (hands turning) behind the scenes. A lot of good waiting. Groundwork. A scene being set. An idea fermenting. Maturity taking root. Whether it applies to your growth as an individual or the development of your book, the moment of the big reveal matters, but equally significant is what’s happening during all those other seconds.
This industry will present plenty opportunities for you to wait. Wait well, and offer your book the same gift.