Ever seen a little kid throw one of those “but I really want it” tantrums? If you’re human and you ever leave the house, the answer is yes. In fact, chances are pretty good that you’ve thrown one yourself within the last week or so. Yeah, okay, so you didn’t get down on the floor and kick and scream and cry (or maybe you did, I won’t judge you) but inside you had a little meltdown because you wanted something and didn’t get it.
It’s good to want things in life, as my friend Jamie used to say.
It’s also good to realize that you can’t always get what you want, or at least not when you want it.
If you’re a writer, you are going to have plenty of waiting to get through. I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting. Patience is not one of my virtues. Standing in grocery lines, getting put on hold on the phone, waiting for water to boil in the morning so I can make coffee – these things all suck.
As a writer waiting tends to revolve around waiting for other people to read something you’ve slaved over for hours and days and maybe even years. Waiting for your beta readers and/or friends and family to read and get back to you with comments. Waiting for an agent to respond to a query. Waiting for an editor to respond to a query from your agent. Waiting for a deal summary or a contract to roll in. Waiting for publication day. Waiting for reviews.
No matter where you are in your writing journey, you’re going to be waiting for something.
And, as you’d already figured out by the time you were two, waiting really sucks.
So what’s a person to do?
Clearly, you are not going to start harassing agents with phone calls and ugly letters. You’re not going to call your friend ten times in one day and ask how far they’ve read (no, you are NOT) and you’re definitely not going to make public derogatory comments about anybody in publishing. In fact, when engaged in serious, angst-filled waiting, it’s best to avoid the internet entirely. It’s also good to avoid stocking your cupboards with large quantities of chocolate and alcohol, because once the waiting is over you will regret the pounds and the damage to your liver.
Here are a few constructive things you can do to survive the times of waiting.
- Talk to friends you can trust. Just because you can’t tell the world at large that your agent is negotiating a contract, or that it’s been six weeks since you submitted your query to Agent A and they still haven’t called, or even written, doesn’t mean you can’t talk to friends. Writer friends in particular know exactly how difficult this is for you and make great listeners. In exchange, they might want to talk to you about their own waiting. Let them. It will help to pass the time.
- Exercise. Being busy helps to pass the time and also decreases the stress and tension caused by waiting. Your blood pressure will thank you.
- Always be working on something else. Plan your next novel. Write a short story or a poem. Edit something. Invest your heart in another piece of writing so the whole world does not revolve around the piece of writing caught up in the waiting.
- Read. Reading is a great escape from anything and everything. Plus, it helps make you a better writer.
- If none of this works, consider touching a magic spinning wheel and going off to sleep until wakened by the post person or the sweet sound of mail hitting your inbox….