Dec. 6, 2020: The Dangers of Instant Gratification
Instant gratification is defined as the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay. Our culture has made instant gratification an art form. We are encouraged to demand things without waiting. Instant forms of food staples, like rice and oatmeal, are more common than the traditional versions. Shopping on-line has become same-day-delivery.
I am seeing this need for immediacy taking hold in many young writers. And I think it is damaging. Damaging to their careers, to their art, and to all writers.
The inability, or unwillingness to put in the work and the time is a common thread. The lament in writing groups is that things take so long. Posts abound in writing social media groups seeking advice for short cuts. Hearing writers talk of rushing or eliminating steps in the process. These are all things that cause me great sadness.
Because like most careers, the quality of each individual can impact the reputation of all. Doctors do not want unskilled doctors practicing medicine. Lawyers do not want incompetent lawyers practicing law. Teachers do not want ineffective teachers in the classroom.
Getting quality writing to publication takes time and work. You may be able to knock out a full length novel in month, but that is just the beginning. Revisions will take months and months. That is because you must get feedback from reputable sources, which takes time. Time for them to read and examine your writing and then time for you to study their critique and then make changes.
Securing an agent or publisher takes time. Each time you send it out, the recipient needs time to thoroughly examine your proposal, query, and writing. When they respond, it may be with advice for further revisions, which will take time.
And when you do secure a publishing contract, the timetable to publication is months or years out. That is to allow for more people to get their eyes on your work and improve the quality. You may work with editors, copyeditors, and marketing people during this whole process, and that takes time. You may be asked to work on additional changes during this time. And each time you do that, the quality improves.
Yes, the work can be arduous, and the waiting endless. And the lament, “It is so hard to get traditionally published” is true. Yes, it is hard. It is supposed to be hard. There is a reason for that. Quality control!
When writers skip or rush steps, most times, the quality of the work suffers. When after a few rejections, a writer decides to “just self-publish”, often, the quality suffers. When a writer eliminates those extra layers of input on their writing, they erase the possibility of growth. When the time and toil become too much, those who seek instant gratification may give up.
The process can seem endless. But if you are not willing to take the long view, you may be compromising the quality of your art for that immediate rush. Or worse- you may be denying the world the blessing of your words and your work.
I believe that writing is one area where the need for immediate gratification can be the kiss of death. Writers need to be patient. Patient with themselves as they perfect their art, and patient with the process.
True- being patient is not easy, but it is a gift you can give yourself. Patience along with perseverance, is a recipe for success when it comes to writing.