“Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.” Plautus (c. 254-184 B.C.), playwright
“Take time for all things. Great haste makes great waste.” Benjamin Franklin
Fascinating how the mind works. I was actually planning a different post today, but then the words of Plautus swam into view and Ben’s advice popped into my head and I realized that the need for patience was on my plate today — and thought it might be on yours, too.
“Calm and uncomplaining endurance;” “quiet perseverance;” “calmness in waiting” — these simple definitions of “patience” from my trusty Century Dictionary tell us everything we need to know about this elusive quality, don’t they? And yet, how hard it is to cultivate — doubly so — in our instant access, digitally driven world. Sometimes we simply find it hard to concentrate on the job at hand. Or we’re overly eager to finish a project that’s been bedeviling us or to move on to one that’s fresher and more tantalizing because of its newness. And so in spite of our best intentions we end up giving short shrift to something that matters to us or rushing to finish it.
Yes, there’s a time to stay headlongedly (made up this word — love it!) focused on our goals. And there’s a time for what a wise mentor of mine calls “spiritual urgency” (a future post), but there’s also a time to take time, to slow down, and to calmly wait — at least, this has proven true in my experience. When I let go of the need to get someplace in my writing, when I surrender the need to make visible progress and summon up the faith to simply stop, listen, and wait — that’s when surprisingly wonderful things happen.
Calmness invites creativity — this is something I’ve learned the hard way. When I’m agitated and impatient, it’s hard to focus: I’m busy too running around or letting myself be distracted. When I slow down, I’m often far more productive: I find the quiet, receptive energy needed to listen to my intuition — and often, it’s from this place of calm that the next, best step or idea emerges.
Sometimes we need to simply wait: a scene or chapter or new approach needs time and our subconscious energy to gather itself and ripen to the point where we can productively pursue it. When we wait, we work — a tough lesson, but how valuable!
If you’re feeling stuck on one part of your writing, why not stop a while, shift gears and work on something else? Or simply give yourself permission to wait and let the solution appear? Just trusting that the answer is out there waiting for you is enough to draw it to you — all fresh and shiny, and often delightfully surprising. Write on!