Waiting. Waiting for queries, agents, editors.
Waiting to find the time to write. Waiting for drafts to pull themselves together, waiting for beta readers to get back to you, waiting for edits from your editor, waiting for reviews, waiting for something, anything to happen.
Waiting is a huge part of a writer’s life. And I hate it. When I’m waiting, those thoughts creep in. That I’m not a very good writer, that no editor would want my book, that I’ll never have another idea as good as the last one I wrote. And even if I manage to fight those thoughts off and tell myself that’s not what the silence means, it’s frustrating and stressful. Waiting on other people to get back to you before you can meet your own goals, waiting for a yes so you can continue– it’s frustrating. It’s stressful when you’re not sure what’s going to happen, and if readers or agents or editors will like your work. Stressful waiting for the approval, the advice, the go-ahead.
There’s a lot of advice out there on how to handle the waiting involved in a writer’s life. Adjust, work on a new project, spend time with your family. It’s all good advice. And I’ve tried it, and it works pretty well, for the most part. People would ask me “So how’s the writing thing going?” and I got pretty used to saying, “Oh, you know, just waiting.”
I don’t think that attitude is good for me. It weighs on me. It takes a toll. I don’t like saying I’m waiting. I can’t turn off the writer part of me for very long and pay attention to something else. A consistent, balanced lifestyle works better for me, where I’m making progress daily or weekly and moving toward my goals. I can handle rejection and lack of news much better when I know things are moving forward anyway.
So, for those of us who can’t handle the waiting, here’s my thought:
Stop waiting. Stop saying you’re waiting. Stop thinking about it that way.
If you want news to come to you, make the news happen. Of course, spend time with your family and take a break if you need it, but stop telling yourself you’re waiting. Find things you can do when you can’t move forward in one area. Read that book you want to use as a comparison title. Research the next ten agents you’re going to query. Connect with writers in your area. Blog genuinely and frequently. Build your platform with meaningful connections. Take the time to read Writing the Breakout Novel and On Writing and Master Class in Fiction Writing. Go to a conference and learn, connect, be inspired. And yes, write that next manuscript.
If you don’t want to be waiting, don’t wait. Push forward in any area you can. Small success are a tremendous encouragement, progress builds over time, and no one holds more influence over your career than you do. It’s yours. Go get it.