As important as it is for a writer to sit herself down regularly and just write, there is something to be said for a patient attitude.
On the micro level, a writer needs to give her brain the time and space it needs to work out plot logistics, character motivations, and meaningful settings—especially when editing. Before I get editorial notes on a draft, I schedule time to work on those notes right after I receive them. And every time, in the week or three following, I get stuck. Even if I agree with the criticism I’ve been given, I often can’t figure out major ways to incorporate changes right off the bat. A few weeks or even months later, things start to click.
I try to force it sometimes, telling myself that if I were a contracted author, I’d only have so long to revise. The reality is that at this point, I’m not a contracted author, and that’s because I’m still learning how to do this whole writing a novel thing. Part of what I’m learning is that I only feel more frustrated when I want to start making changes before I’ve really had a chance to think them through. When I set more realistic expectations for myself, I’m always more likely to succeed.
On the macro level, a writer needs to be patient with the time it takes to develop her career. It’s easy to feel thwarted when someone you know, especially someone who seems to have no real interest in writing, gets published, even if it’s in a journal specific to his or her field that you have no illusions of ever submitting to. Just about every agent, every editor out there will say that no matter what it is they’re actively looking for, if they come across the right thing—the thing with the really good writing—they’ll take it on. So that ought to be the goal, really.
Every time I sit down to write, every time I read a book on craft, every time I read something like my work and something vastly different, I am learning a little more, getting a little closer to my goal. Some steps are smaller than others. Some might even seem to be backwards. I’m going to get lapped by other writers. But if I stay my course, if I keep moving toward my goal, I have to believe that some day, in my own time, I’ll get there.