Necessary Traits of a Writer

Certain character traits are necessary for different professions. A doctor should have compassion. A lawyer should radiate confidence. A cat herder shares many of the traits a writer should hone. Patience tops the list. Without it, how can a writer finish that seemingly impossible first draft and the revisions that follow? What about the dreaded times when a whole day’s work (or more – yikes!) needs to be scrapped ’cause it’s bunk? Without patience, how does a writer persevere? When it’s a challenge to practice patience, I remember this encounter:

On the way home from the office one afternoon, I stopped at a bakery for a loaf of bread. Being in a hurry, I forgot to ask the person assisting me to slice the loaf before handing it to me. When I did so, she looked at me as if I’d insisted she set the place on fire.

“You didn’t ask to have it sliced,” she responded testily.

“Yes, I know,” I replied. “Would you please slice it now?”

While I waited in a huff, I watched her. She was in an even worse huff than I was as she bent over the bread machine. I recalled an ancient parable about an elderly monk who slowly made his way along a dirt road. Suddenly a large man, in a huge hurry, pushed past the monk and knocked the old man down as he raced by, without a glance back. As a younger monk helped the elder one up, the old monk shouted after the man, “May you be happy all the days of your life!”

The young monk said, “What are you saying? Didn’t you see what he just did to you?”

The older monk replied, “Do you think he’d have done that if he’d been happy?”

When I got my sliced loaf, I said, “Thanks so much for taking the time to do that.” I actually got a “You’re welcome” back. I felt better and I’m certain she did too.

It’s easy to practice patience when we feel happy. But how does one maintain patience during those times when we’re in a hurry or upset or just plain miserable? True happiness comes from helping others, nurturing a grateful heart and using the enormous power of thought and consideration, all of which surpass impatience or misery.

When I started writing this post, I felt impatient. “Hurry up and get it over with,” was what drummed through my mind as I pressed the keys. That was no fun. So I stopped writing, and paid a visit to Twitter. I didn’t tweet, but read others’ inspiring tweets. Short and sweet. They made me realize that I was missing another vital asset that prevented me from exercising patience and my “A” game: enthusiasm.

With renewed interest, I came back and finished. It doesn’t take much to turn our thoughts around. Just a little effort.

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8 years ago

Thank you. Actually a lot of people seem unhappy today. Once again, I really enjoyed reading your post!

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