Posted by Lynne
In parenting, small actions make a big difference in a child's ability to learn. Take the classic power struggle at the crosswalk. A four-year-old boy runs up to the walk signal. He presses the button convinced the more he pushes it, the sooner the word walk will flash permission to cross. His mother cautions him to wait for her. She offers, at first, a sing-song kind of warning. Then she raises her voice in frustration. Later, in fear she yells. But the boy, as little boys will do, dashes across the street with confidence, or perhaps he's simply unaware of the danger of rushing.
When I talk with parents about this or any other predictable behavior, I recommend taking small action, proactively. This mother's power lies, not in reacting to a situation that doesn't go as she's hoped, it lies in taking small action before getting anywhere near the crosswalk the next time. When I tell parents that the best strategy is to take small action-- reach down and take a child's hand-- inevitably, I'm asked the same question. "How many times will I have to do that before he learns what to do?"
My answer--as many times as it takes.
In writing, as in parenting, oodles of patience is required. I've sat in countless writers' workshops and gone to many author events and like a bell ringing at the end of class, someone asks one of the following questions. How many agents should I submit to, before I give up? How many novels did you write before you got your first one published? How many times do you recommend a writer revise a manuscript?
The answer to all of these questions? As many times as it takes.
Patience is a value. Patience is a skill. Patience is hard to have when you want to write well and share your work with readers, more than anything in the world. Like the mother at the crosswalk, teaching her little one to follow the rules, writers must learn similar lessons. Wait until it's time. Be cautious. Let others help you. Learn from your mistakes. And, of course, no need to rush; you will get to the other side in due time.
For those of you who know me, you see the irony in my post this morning, since I'm not famous for my patience. It's true, I can be impatient. And yet, it will be seven years from idea to published parenting book. It's been five years from first query to first national parenting magazine assignment. Six months after completing my novel, I'm still revising. Maybe like me, you struggle with patience. That doesn't mean you don't have it. The path to patience is small action. Each day, take one step toward your goal, whatever it may be. Each step brings you a little closer to your destination. Small actions accumulate, and one day you'll be on the other side. On to the next intersection.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Posted by Lynne