"Patience is a virtue they tell me."
It must be. It's hard to obtain.
There are ways to speed up drying. I'm not sure if you would be able to straighten the stick afterward though. Unseasoned green wood can be steam bent (or straightened) but will return to it's former shape after a while. We have another member here that has been fighting that issue.
Boiling small pieces seems to help with drying, Boiling can also help with checking. Soaking in alcohol also helps. The alcohol displaces the water then evaporates faster than the water would.
I'm not sure about how either method would affect straightening the stick.
I have seen small kilns built out of not much more than a cardboard box and a light bulb. I'm not sure how effective the method is. Kiln dried wood has a reputation for not steam bending easily, if at all, but it can be done. I've done it with oak before for rocking chair runners. I steamed them and clamped them in a jig for several days to let them dry. There was some spring back when I removed them.
I've decided that for me at least "Hurry up and wait" is the best method.
Sometimes, depending on the stick and your drying conditions, you can get away with less drying time but a year per inch of thickness is a safe rule of thumb for drying times.
The best advice I can give is pick at least twice as many sticks as you think you'll need for a year. I thought I picked enough last year and am low on cured sticks again this winter. I had a far better year selling sticks than I expected and have run short. This winter I've picked around 70 and want to get t least 30 more so I'm not in this position again next year.