I have a confession to make: I suck at waiting. No matter how hard I try to have patience, I’ve realized over the years I wasn’t built for it. When I was young, I hated waiting for the swings on the playground. My little feet trudged back and forth in and out of the sand, eyeing each playful student until someone finally got tired of my laser-like stares and gave me their swing.
In high school when I tried out for teams, I wore a hole in the dirty blue carpet, pacing in front of the coaches office waiting for them to post the junior varsity or varsity list.
There’s an irony in all of this – that I chose writing as a career – the most notorious of job paths for waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
I wish I could say I’ve gotten better over the years. Matured enough to let the impatience go, but “refreshing my inbox” has become second nature to me. What I have learned is there are things I can do to get my mind off what feels like an incessant path of silence.
1) Focus on other things in life: family, hobbies, travel, health. These are things that often get put to the side as you’re writing, revising or editing a project. Take a break. Take a breath. Letting go of the worry might allow your brain to rejuvenate and come up with some brilliant new plot ideas.
2) Reach out and help others: Be a slush reader in a contest, offer to beta read someone’s work, help tweak a friend’s query. By lending a hand, you may learn something new about your own craft.
3) Think about other things beyond writing. Interested in publishing? Check out how you can be an intern for a publishing house. Want to learn about being an agent? Look into ways to get onto the ground floor with an agency. Help with public relations or social media.
4) Check out local and national writing conferences or even an online webinar. Constantly improving your craft is a great way to get your mind off the waiting game.
5) Last, but not least – WRITE SOMETHING NEW. I hate to say it, but what you have in the pipeline may not catch fire. It’s a reality we all must face – but don’t let that get you down! Tackle a new project. Write something fresh. It will direct your focus away from your worries (and waiting) and inspire you to keep going.
What about you? How do you handle what can seem like a long path of silence? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.