Latest News

Impatience: The Ugly Beast

Impatience is an ugly little beast, and it always comes out of hibernation at the worst times. Admittedly, I’m incredibly impatient. Waiting for things makes me fidgety and, in my uglier moments, a total crab. And I think even the most patient person in the world has their moments.

When it comes to writing, there are many, many opportunities for impatience to sneak out and possess you with its dangerous impulses. Sometimes it manifests itself in relatively harmless ways, like causing you to check your email every two minutes after you’ve sent a query, but other times, it’s not so harmless.

We all know that querying and, later, going on submission, have the potential to require a good deal of patience, and I think everyone generally prepares for this. Maybe there’s some (hopefully) good-natured whining with friends, but you know there will be waiting, so you suck it up and wait. But sometimes, we forget that our patience is required earlier than that.

It tends to start after you finish that draft. The whole story is there, written down, finished. You know it’s going to need edits, you know it’s going to need betas, but it’s not just in your head anymore, it’s on paper (or, more likely, your computer’s hard drive). You dutifully put your masterpiece in the hands of your carefully selected betas, sit back, and realize…

There’s going to be some waiting.

Working on another WIP can help ward off the evil impatience. So can writing a query letter, and maybe even a dreaded synopsis. Compiling your list of agents to send the query off to. But then, you have that pretty, shiny query letter sitting there on your computer—and that nice happy list of people you want to send it to. Would it really be such a bad idea to send out a little test query?

The answer is, without a doubt, YES.

Think how much time you put into that query. You had other people read it, you reworked it, you let them read it again, on and on until it was as great as you thought it could be. You probably agonized, double (and maybe triple) checking that you addressed it to the right person, that you included what the agent wanted along with the query. Maybe you think you’ll get rejected. Or that you won’t hear back for a while. But you can’t bank on either of these things (unless maybe it’s an agent who notoriously takes months and months to reply to queries. But still…be wary.)

What if you get a request? Shouldn’t you put more effort into your actual manuscript than you did your query? Shouldn’t you wait for the invaluable advice from multiple betas? Edit the way it needs to be edited, rather than on a way-too-limited deadline?

When the impatience monster tries to bite you, tell it where to go. Don’t let it lure you into decisions you’ll regret later, because ultimately, you decide your own fate.

Make it a good one.
Kaitlin Ward

Kaitlin Ward is the author of Bleeding Earth, Adaptive Books 2016, and The Farm, coming 2017 from Scholastic.

Posts by Kaitlin

website twitter goodreads tumblr

  • Blogger Comments
  • Facebook Comments


  1. You are sooooo right. The biggest mistake people make is sending things out too soon (I'm guilty of this as well). It's so hard to remember that timing is everything--which most often means waiting in this biz. Waiting for that response . . . letting your ideas simmer for a while before sending them on . . .

    A killer query gets your manuscript read--that manuscript better be ready!!!

  2. Great post. I suffer from impatience as well. One of my problems is my betas don't seem to realize they can't keep my MS for weeks upon weeks without so much as a comment. I'm not sure if I'm being too impatient or if I just need more diligent betas.

    It's so hard to not get frustrated when you've been working on a MS for over a year (and people constantly ask, 'When's it going to be done?') and you just want to be DONE, but you know you have to keep working until you know it's your absolute best.

    My most recent blog: Writers don't do that

  3. Great post. I have thought on occasion about the waiting process, it really could make you crazy. I try to have a side project, something I look forward to getting back to while I wait.

  4. It's true, and while I understand impatience, I just don't understand the concept of a test query. You said it, Kaitlin - if someone spends soooo much time cleaning up a query, shouldn't they spend the same amount of time (or MUCH MORE) on, um, the BOOK??? I know occasionally things might work out, but to me it's always looked like not having enough respect for yourself and your novel to give it a proper chance.

  5. This post comes at a perfect time -I just sent my first query EVER last night at 1 a.m. It was possibly the 45th draft of my query letter that finally got sent. I got an immediate acknowledgement of receipt (I know the agent) but now I will have to play the waiting game. I am hereby inspired to stop stewing and get back to writing/editing.

  6. This is a great post! Because it's so true. Querying too early is one of the biggest mistakes writers make.

  7. OH. My. Gosh. That picture you posted is me. Right now. I am ugly!!
    Thanks for the great post. It is a great reminder.

  8. This blog totally speaks to me! My book just went on submission, and I have no patience...none, I tell ya! Could you next post please be about what to do when you're so impatient? Thanks! :)

  9. This post is so ridiculously true! Turns out that writing the book is by FAR the easiest part.

  10. Tiffany, I saw your comment and was like, nuh-uh, you're beautiful! Then I got it.

    Rachele, good luck!!

    And Kaitlin: great post. Waiting is so, so tough, but that's no reason to jump the gun and further hurt your book's chances in what's already an insanely competitive industry. Your query letter should be as perfect as you can make it -- but so should every single paragraph in your manuscript before you query it.


Comments are moderated on posts two weeks old or more -- please send us a tweet if yours needs approval!

Item Reviewed: Impatience: The Ugly Beast Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kaitlin Ward