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Patience, grasshopper

Martial arts are a lesson in patience. It took me two years to reach First Brown (the second level of brown belt, just before black) when I was in Tae Kwon Do, and that was with an intensive practice schedule for the last six months.

Then I injured my shoulder, my husband got his black belt without me, and we moved out of town.

After moving back to Virginia, we signed up for Kung Fu with a former instructor who’d opened his own school. Two years later, we’ve graduated to red sash. It’ll probably take at least another year or two to reach black.

You cannot rush the skills.

Writing is the same way. When I first started writing, I wanted to get published with my second manuscript, less than a year after I’d started writing. I was ready.


I would have been like a white belt trying to spar with black belts. The likely result: a sound pummeling.

The more I learn about the writing business, the more relieved I am that I didn’t get published back then. I’m choosing to be grateful for the extra time to hone my craft; find my best method for planning/writing a manuscript; form a support network of other writers; and learn about agents, publishers, and the industry.

And when I earn my writing black belt (pubbed in fiction), I’ll understand that it merely means I’ve mastered the basics. There’s always more to learn, more to master. Another level to reach for.

I just need the patience to work and wait for it.

Tell your friends!


  1. Sarah Wolf


    Thanks for the post and the encouragement to take the time needed to learn the basics. I tend to be too quick to make the next move and want to enjoy the beginning stages of being a writer.

    • Reply

      Absolutely, Sarah! I write these posts as much for myself as everyone else. Patience is so hard. Good luck with your writing, and enjoy being a beginner. That’s when it’s the most fun!

  2. Reply

    Our posts complement each other beautifully, don’t you think? Congrats on the strides you’ve made in karate, and for your accomplishments in writing. You will do it!!

  3. Reply

    Martial arts – ah, I remember it well. Many years ago my boys and I decided to learn Tae Kwon Do. This was, of course, because they’d become enamored with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and wouldn’t stop bugging me until I signed us up . So, off the three of us went. We finally managed to make it to purple belts after lots of hard work and practice. But, like you, I injured my shoulder and had to quit. Unfortunately, I never returned to it, but to this day I wish I had. But while I was there, it was definitely an excellent lesson in patience and setting goals.

    These days, I’m a bit more laid back about what happens with my writing. Yes, I do still want to get published, but only when what I have is ready. And I don’t think I’m really ready yet. Perhaps after another novel or two, or short story or three. I have lots to learn, yet, but I know the results will be worth it.

    • Reply

      Dave: We started TKD because we’d been interested, but also as a way to spend time with our boys too. They quit when we moved the first time, but it was a nice way to build some family memories when they were younger. And it’s never to late to go back!

      I share your philosophy on a writing career. Some days I want it so bad because I want to make a living at it, but most days I’m willing to wait. At least a little longer. 😉

  4. Reply

    Very well said, Gwen. I love your attitude about the whole process. And patience is something that can serve one well in all areas of life. At times it’s hard to remember that but I’ll keep trying to remind myself. 🙂

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