Discipline and Patience

Discipline and Patience:

One of three character traits all authors must possess

Fresh from a workshop with legendary Terry Kay, I have much to share. First, a confession: I have missed my critique group. Please, if you don’t have a core group of souls with whom you share your work, make it a point to find one. I had no idea how much I missed the camaraderie of Lynn, Mary, John and Lee. Being around other scribes is crucial. I owe much of my success to them. They kindly (and forcibly) reminded me that I have been away for far too long and that I must attend the next meeting.

They are correct.

Mr. Kay spoke to a crowd of eager pupils about the craft of writing. Any author who believes he or she knows everything about that subject is a fool. Regardless of the number of books you have written, purpose to learn something new. Keep your writing fresh. After leaving the workshop with eight pages of notes, I was encouraged, hopeful and energized.

However, there is no way to sugarcoat the message. Kay reminded the group: “authors must have three character traits: a lot of discipline, a little bit of talent, and a lot of patience.”

This is my message to you, of discipline and patience. The books we love are the result of discipline. Someone sat for hours on end writing, reading, cursing, crying, fretting over the words placed on the page. If they didn’t —and this is going to sound rude—their book probably isn’t worth your time. Most books require months, if not years, of discipline.

You will be that author. You will be disciplined and invest the necessary time both when writing your book, and when marketing.

Conversely, marketing your book takes an equal amount of discipline. Take publicity for example.

A Message from Captain Obvious: Readers do not know about your book unless you (or a another reader) tells them about it.

It is necessary to invest the time to send individual emails to each person you have identified on the marketing list.

No group emails.

This investment of time requires discipline.

To impart a bit of personal information about me, I watch one television show, one night a week. Period.

I do not waste time…I manage it.


Patience: Quite frankly, I don’t have time for patience. I am guilty of wanting an instant return on my time-investment. Realistically, this never happens. It is human nature to want lightning-fast results. However, writing (and marketing) is the ultimate lesson in patience.

Personal Example: Last month, after working two consecutive days at the computer emailing every newspaper, radio personality and blogger imaginable, I wanted instantaneous result. C’mon now people, why haven’t you responded to my emails? All have responded, in their time, not according to my schedule.

However, a year and a half ago I contacted a company regarding making copies of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes available in their grocery store. They commonly carry books by local authors and since Billy is from the area, I thought my book was a perfect match. I approached, delivered my best marketing spiel and waited. I heard nothing…for a year and a half.

Upon returning from the workshop last night, I had a Facebook friend request from the manager of the marketing department. Does this mean she is going to stock my book? I am not certain. I know this; we have no mutual friends, so how did she find me unless she sought me?

I understand, more than you know, how difficult it is to approach people and want so desperately for them to buy your book. Truly, at the end of the day one must remember the words of The Great Terry Kay: “Discipline and Patience.”

Write the words on a note.

Adorn the walls with those two words.

Practice them and believe in yourself.

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