The Art of Waiting
So, it’s been a little while since I blogged last because Things. Are. Happening. I’m expecting a baby in February (squee!), my husband and I decided to finish our basement (to get ready for said baby), and there have been lots of writerly things to take care of *rubs hands together gleefully*
I’ve been hard at work getting my manuscript and subsequent materials ready for submission and am now in the thralls of waiting. For those who aren’t familiar with the publishing term submission, it means my fabulous literary agent (Pamela Harty with The Knight Agency) has started querying editors. Yay!!! But also: Eep!!!
Now, one thing I’ve learned about the publishing world is that waiting is involved at many steps along the way: waiting for a manuscript to percolate between drafts, waiting to hear back from beta readers, waiting to hear back from agents/editors/industry professionals, etc.. And patience during each of these stages is imperative.
As writers, we’ve worked so hard–we’ve put part of ourselves, our souls into our art–it makes sense that we’re excited to hear back about our metaphorical babies. After all, our dreams could come true at any moment!
But during these stages of waiting, writing starts transitioning from art into business. We must step back, take a deep yoga breath, and practice patience.
Ask any writer and they’ll say the waiting can get a bit tortuous, but there are some things that make it easier.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way:
1. Step away from the email! A watched pot never boils and the same goes for an Inbox. It’s best not to have your smartphone attached to your palm every second of every day. Disconnect for a while and do something that gets your mind off of your manuscript. Go for a walk or to a museum, travel, see friends, catch up on the life you may have missed while you were in the good ol’ writing cave.
2. Start working on something new. This is admittedly a tough one for me, but is oh so important! While waiting to hear back, it’s hard for me to get invested in a new project. Should I work on the sequel to the manuscript being shopped around, a brand new project, novel-length or a short story? The decisions become so daunting that I get stuck. My solution: take one day at a time. Work on whatever project sounds the most fun day-to-day. Start working on that sequel, but also give yourself the freedom to explore brand new writing endeavors. Keep the words flowing and be sure to keep it fun!
3. Remember, hearing a yes from whomever you’re waiting to hear from isn’t everything. This is more of a mental practice, but it bears mentioning. Life will go on after you hear back, no matter the outcome. There are sooooo many paths through this awesome and crazy publishing world, a no one day doesn’t mean a no forever. And one thing I always remind myself, the worst thing you can ever hear is no, and no means you were brave enough to put yourself and your art into the world, which is a MAJOR accomplishment in and of itself.
4. Do something creative besides writing. My friend Abby posted an amazing blog about the benefits of creative cross-training here that I highly recommend. Put that scrapbook together from your last vacation, get an adult coloring book (I just purchased my first one!), paint, play music, whatever replenishes your creative juices. The truly amazing thing is that neurologically it will still benefit your writing. Isn’t science cool?!
5. Attend writing events. This one is HUGE! No one understands the writing process and pangs of waiting like other writers. I make it a goal to attend one writing event per month whether it’s a mystery writers dinner, conference, workshop, or even just coffee with a writer friend. It’s important to challenge yourself, continue learning and improving your craft, and generally get inspired.
What do you do while you’re waiting to hear back about something you care deeply about? Do you have any tips to add to my list?