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When We're Faced With the Temptation to Grow Up too Fast

*The new driver!*

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

My oldest son recently turned sixteen. And yes, he got his driver's license. The day his birthday dawned, he didn't care about presents, cake, or his special dinner. All he cared about was taking a trip over to the DMV and getting his license.

Of course, as usual, the wait at the DMV was out the door. Don't you just love the efficiency of the government? Every time I go to the post office the line is out the door too. But I digress . . .

Even though my son almost didn't get to blow out his birthday candles because he was busy sitting at the DMV, he DID eventually get his license. And we're all very happy for him (especially me because I don't have to drive him all over kingdom-come anymore!).

Strangely, when my freshmen daughters saw their brother pull out of the driveway all by himself to drive to work, they both had the same reaction. "I can't wait until I get to drive." I've heard them say it countless times over the past few weeks. And along with that I've also begun to hear my daughters say things like, "I can't wait until I'm older" or "I'm so glad I'm not in middle school anymore" or "I hate being so young."

They're comparing themselves with their older brother with all his privileges and responsibilities and
in the process they're starting to feel discontent with where they're at. Sure, we can empathize with them. We remember what it was like to be young and wish you could do more.

But as adults already having gone through high school, most of us would probably advise my twins to stop wishing away today and enjoy every moment because before they know it those years will be gone. Soon enough they'll have a job and family and LOTS of responsibility (sometimes even more than they wanted!).

There's always the temptation to want to grow up too fast, isn't there? (Except when you hit your 40's and you start wishing you could subtract a year at every birthday instead of adding one.)

That temptation to grow up too fast happens in the writing world too. And with the internet age, that temptation has only increased.

Writers everywhere are visible with everything they're doing. In fact, nowadays the writer's life is an open book (pun intended!). With our blogs, twitter, and facebook, we can share everything we're going through, how much we're writing per hour, every first draft we complete, contract news, and finals in contests.

And while such openness can be helpful, I find that most often it sets up an attitude of discontentment in those who are watching us.

On Twitter we see seasoned writers pumping out amazing word counts like 2000/hour and wonder what's wrong with us that we can only write 200 a day.

Or we hear about all the multiple novellas, novels, and eshorts an author writes in six months and feel inadequate for only barely managing one book a year.

We see friends publishing one book after another. Their rankings rise higher with each book. And we start to feel left behind.

Whatever the source of our discontentment, we're wise to heed the same advice that we would give my freshmen daughters: Stop wishing away today and enjoy every moment because before we know it those early years will be gone. Soon we'll reach maturity and have LOTS of responsibility (sometimes even more than we wanted!).

Sure it's only natural to look ahead, to dream, to plan. But we can't rush the process. We can't send out our books or publish them too soon. We have to wait for maturity and give ourselves time to grow in the writing journey.

It's okay to start with 200 words a day and one book a year. It's okay to take the time to read widely inside and out of your genre. It's okay to spend time practicing new techniques. And it's okay to wait to publish a book until you've had the chance to grow up as a writer.

In other words, we can't expect to be at the junior level when we're a freshman.

Sometimes we may cry out, "I can't wait!" But let's not miss out on the joy of the process that lies before us while we fret away our time coveting what's out of our reach.

What about you? Do you ever get tired of waiting? Do you compare yourself to others ahead of you and wish you were already there? How do YOU handle the impatience?


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