Writers do a lot of waiting.

For instance, when we are waiting for our novel to be finished, it kinda feels like we’re at a bus stop, except that instead of waiting 5 or 15 minutes for the bus to arrive, it may take about 1-10 years for our bus driver to come around. Oh yeah, and there’s no bus schedule either, so we never know whether it will be in fact one year, or 2, or 3, or 4 or 5 or the whole 10 before our novel is finished and published.

So, if you are a writer like me, or someone who has to wait a long time to get something they really want in life, what do you do while you’re waiting?

Well, there are three things you can do today to help you become a more patient person. Patience helps lessen your stress level and that’s good for your overall health–and a healthy writer is a happy writer.

So here we go:

1.  Meditation

Two things are often said about meditation.

1. That it’s easy, and

2. That there’s no wrong way to do it.

Now that I’ve managed to establish a daily meditation routine that works for me, I can now share with you what I have come to learn about meditation:

1. It isn’t easy.

2 There is a wrong way to do it.

It has taken me years to find the right meditation practice for me and for it to finally have a great influence on my life. I can now say with 100% certainty that meditation has vastly improved my overall happiness and well-being. I used to be anxious and lost in my own thoughts most of the time. Even in the middle of a group of people, I would feel restless, and sometimes completely out of it. This meant I was often impatient, and impatience led me to become angry, and this anger led to me to unhappiness. But it’s been a good 6 months or so since I have felt truly anxious and filled with worry. A little anxiety here and there is normal, but when it keeps you from doing anything, that’s when it becomes a problem. But nowadays I can move forward without falling part. I feel balanced, at peace, and happy nearly most of the time.

So, that is why I believe that everyone should have a daily meditation routine, not just for spirituality purposes (although if you are a spiritual person it definitely helps) but mainly for health and well-being purposes.

So, how do you start?  Often people are told to pay attention to their breathing first. Because, as the experts say, this is very easy. But you might find, like I did, that paying attention to your breath is a very boring and hard thing to do. Your thoughts will get in the way, you’ll want to watch TV, or surf the internet, you’ll want to write, or read or think about all the crap you have to do, or if you’re tired, you might even fall asleep. I think that’s why many people give up meditation right away. They don’t get it. It’s not doing anything, they think. They don’t feel it, so they must be doing it wrong. And they are doing it wrong. I’ll explain why in a minute, but first, here is what I recommend:

Find a nearby park, go there alone, and start your meditation by simply becoming aware. Awareness is where everything begins. Just start by paying attention. Don’t try to stop your thinking, just pay attention to your thoughts. Notice how you feel, what you say, notice the world around you. You will find yourself thinking a hundred miles per hour, dozens of thoughts running through your head, you might have a moment when you are aware–and the very next moment you will be lost in the past, or in the future, or in your worries, or in your anxieties. This. is. o. kay. It is a progress. If you are at the park, you have already succeeded at meditation.

Now, be aware for just 15 min, then go home. Do this again the next day and the next day and the next day. At first you will not notice any difference. You will think you are wasting your time. You will think that everyone around you thinks you are crazy for walking or sitting in a park alone. (They probably do.) But don’t worry about them. Just do it. Show up. Every day. Take your 15 min, and just try to be aware. This is the important part, the trying.

And that’s why people do meditation wrong. They think that they have to become friggin’ Buddha by tomorrow. They think meditation is about the product, but you see that is very wrong! Mediation, of all things, is about the process. It’s about the trying. Because if you manage to become aware for even one second during your meditation practice then–congratulations! You did it! That’s the whole point. It’s the opposite of the product-based thinking you are used to in everyday life, where everything needs to be done now, everything needs to end now, everything needs to be accomplished now. But meditation teaches you that the only thing that needs to happen now is… now.

Okay, so you want to keep this up for a couple of months, and then when you got the hang of it, when you’ve managed to be aware for longer periods of time, then you can focus on your breathing, then on your body, and then move on to the more challenging meditations that I have mentioned in previous posts. (See: Floating Above The Water” a post about writing and spirituality, and “Push Back” a post about writing during the difficult times in your personal life. In both posts I recommend specific exercises, authors, and books on Mediation.)

After just a year of daily mediation, I promise you will start to see DRAMATIC and I mean DRAMATIC results. You will become more patient, you will become more aware of your likes and dislikes, you will be able to make better decisions because you will be in tune with your body and with your mind. You will worry less. You will be less anxious. And finally, not only will you LOVE meditation, you will look forward to it, and it will be like brushing your teeth. You’ll do it every day without really thinking about it, and it will be just another necessary cleansing ritual.

2.  Gratitude

Someone mentioned gratitude in the comments section when I was speaking about how to regain your sense of power the other day, and although I believe gratitude could help you feel more powerful, I personally use gratitude to increase my ability to be patient. You can start by making a list in a journal every morning of the 10 things you are grateful for. You can carry a notepad around so that you can list these things as you think of them. That’s how I got started. But now, whenever I have a moment alone I will think about all the things I am grateful for.

For instance, have you ever thought to be grateful for highways when you were stuck in traffic? You can easily get rid of your impatience in that situation by thinking about how lucky you are that someone took the time to decide that highways not only would be free but that there would be signs to tell you were to go.  There’s even a space on the side should your car break down! How thoughtful is that? What if someone never thought of patrolling these highways, or making them safe for you? What if cars never cared for pedestrians? If you don’t see what I’m talking about, you might want to visit places like Mexico City where literally your life is hanging on a thread while you use a crosswalk (by the way I’m not dogging El D.F., I think it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world! But seriously, they got to enforce their traffic laws!)

Gratitude reminds us of everything we already have, and makes us realize that we don’t really need much more. It also reminds us of how far we have come, and how much we have gained, so we don’t feel like we really need to gain much more. We’ve accomplished so much already! So let’s just be happy and grateful for what we have.

3. Humility

Are you intimidated by others who seemed to have made it so quickly and effortlessly? Are you impatient to get where they are? I used to be the same way, but now I just make a conscious choice to learn more about these “overnight successes.” When I do, I am immediately humbled by how hard some of the people I most admire had to work in order to succeed.

For instance, did you know that Abraham Lincoln suffered major Depression throughout his entire life? That most of his family died when he was very young, and that he was just a bookish kid from the farm who literally taught himself The Law {he never went to law school} and then he became a lawyer all on his own? He’s known as the best President of the United States, and even he had to go through a lot of crap!

So why so impatient, my friend? We all got a long road ahead of us. You’ll get there one day. You just got to pass through the hard part. Just tell yourself that every time you are impatient: “I just go to get through the hard part of my story and then I can get to the good part.” Because there will always be a good part. Don’t believe me?

Check out the odd jobs that some legendary writers had to patiently put up with before they hit it big: “The Early (Not-So-Literary) Jobs of 10 Great Authors.”

I would encourage you to learn the stories of all the heroes you admire. You might find that every, single one of them had a rough ride before they eventually achieved their own personal success. It never happens overnight.

But that is okay.

Just be aware. Be grateful. Then make sure to humble The Great Ones.

Who needs the bus ride anyway? The view from this bus stop is kinda great.

much patience,


>>> Novel Update: I am at the climax of my first draft. It’s exciting!

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22 comments on “Patience.

  1. Agatha82 says:

    Another great post Ollin. I am the most impatient person in the world, so writing has been a hard lesson because I’ve had to learn to be patient. Patient that my novel will take time and that it will not be ready when I said it would be. It is not a cake in the oven, there is not time limit on it but I set a “timer” and when that internal timer went off and the novel wasn’t done, I was not amused. That’s what I get for being impatient 😉

    I voted again, good luck!

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks Agatha! Patience is very hard to cultivate, I was always impatient, until meditation really taught me how to live in the moment. Thanks for the votes and the well wishes! 🙂

  2. Heart says:

    I personally don’t have a goal of being published, at least at this stage of life, that idea seems far fetched with the current commitments that I have! But, I like your three things to do very much, and especially the 3rd point where you talk about Humility.
    It plays a great part in my thought process when I think and get frustrated about the kind of crowd I want to attract to my writing and when I am not successful sometimes, I realise that there are many more great thinkers out there that people are reading! And that you just have to keep exceling in what you do to pull them into your writing and into your domain and keep their attention fixated..
    Great post as always, good luck with your novel!

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you Rachana!

      Well, when it comes to my own writing, I try not to think about pleasing others. It really is hard to be motivated to write when you don’t like what it is that you are writing. So loving what you write and sticking to what you think you do best is highly recommended. Thank you for the well wishes!

      • Heart says:

        Sorry, if I was not clear before, the frustration is only because I get a lot of spam and not meaningful comments.. 🙂 And just like you, I don’t write to impress others.. Ha ha..
        Good day!

        • Ollin says:

          ah yes! That’s a whole different mess. Actually not really, I think the same rule applies. Just write what you love. Oh and follow other bloggers who are as thoughtful as you. 🙂

  3. JB Hill says:

    I was particularly captivated by that photo. I did finish my novel, but am appreciative that I found the patience to park it somewhere comfortable while I cleared my mind of the emotional attachment.

    Funny, as I type this response I find myself staring out into that water wondering what I am doing on that sailboat all by myself? I guess we all find ourselves there.

    • Ollin says:

      That’s great that you were able to finish your novel. I’m almost done with my 1st draft and it seems like I’m so far away from the end. Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  4. Emily Jane says:

    Very interesting post! I tend to be very impatient, but I’ve found not just awareness but acceptance are key to living a more patient life. Acceptance of things the way they are and trying not to react to things out of my control – it’s a very hard lesson but I think with practice hopefully will get easier! I may have to try meditation sometime 🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Yes! Thanks for that Emily. That is a good extra point. Accepting things as they are, but not in a hopeless way. Just in a realistic way so you can use the tools you have at your disposal to move forward. Thanks!

  5. jannatwrites says:

    Patience is a HUGE struggle with me. Whenever I’ve decided I wanted to learn something new or make a career change, I’ve jumped out there, done the research, took classes, and put myself on the fast-track to my goals. Then, there’s writing (and my long-term dream of being published). There’s not much else I can do besides keep learning, writing and querying.

    I love the humility part – it’s so true. Very few people are ‘overnight successes’. A long time ago, I read about Mary Higgins Clark’s writing journey – she definitely paid her dues!

    • Ollin says:

      Humility has been such a life saver for me these past 8 months! So many writers have struggled, it isn’t a cakewalk, but the good news is, everything does turn out right in the end! 🙂

  6. Tammy McLeod says:

    I love what JB said about losing the emotional attachment to a piece. Some might say that diminishes passion but I think it frees one up. I like this post and have worked at a meditation routine for years sometimes with great success and sometimes with an ADHD approach. 😉

    • Ollin says:

      It is so hard to keep up with it, and I totally understand what you mean. You just have to take it a bit at a time, and just congratulate yourself on trying. It also may be that the meditation books or practices that have been taught to you just don’t fit your personality or are just not “right” for you. For instance, sitting meditation does not work for me. I have to walk, or focus on my body or else I am constantly lost in thoughts. Good luck going forward! 🙂

  7. Brilliant advice, Ollin. I’m going to follow your meditation instruction, as I see my patience (in general, not just with writing) deteriorating with every year. Am trying to multitask so many different things right now, I think this will help me center and breath easily through it all :). Ah, and said busy schedule is why I fell out of the blogosphere for a few weeks, but am back now and happy to be catching with you!

    I like that you provide Lincoln as an example—he’s really a figure in history that I admire and didn’t realize until recent years had undergone immense criticism in his day within the media and public; and now look how we remember him with reverence! Just goes to show that conviction may not always make us popular, but it’s worth persevering to preserve, and while we might suffer rejection and setbacks at times, in the long run it won’t matter for our ultimate achievement.

    • Ollin says:

      Wonderful points, monkey!

      Yes, Lincoln’s story is very inspiring. I just wish they would get around to making that movie about him already.

      If you do try the meditation routine, let me know how it works for you! All I can say is that you need to just stick to it and keep practicing. The practice is what counts, it’s not going to work after a couple months, but I would say after a year, you will start to see the effects. Good luck! 🙂

  8. Jack says:

    I liked your comment about Lincoln. I have found that there is a lot that can be learned by reading about the experiences of figures like him as well as ordinary people.

    • Ollin says:

      Yup. Can you believe it? And it wasn’t just regular old depression, it was a pretty nasty case of it. That came back in his later years. The book about it is called “Lincoln’s Melancholy” if you are interested in learning more about it. Basically the book tries to prove that it was his bouts with depression and the way he coped with it that helped him become the best president ever. And there was no word for depression in those days, you just called it “melancholy.” It must suck to go through depression and have other people say: “oh, he’s just sad again!” Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  9. Another comforting, great post. Thanks, Ollin.

  10. […] I’m going to be talking about “faith” today as a concept all on its own. Like patience, or persistence, or doubt. For the moment, I’m also going to remove “faith” from […]

  11. […] I hope it helps you maintain a sense of peace throughout your day. Read my article entitled “Patience“ to learn more about meditation and how to use it to help you in your writing […]

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