There’s lots of waiting involved in the publishing process; from waiting to hear from beta readers, to agents, to editors, to early reviewers until finally your readers. It would be wise therefore to find ways to cope with the waiting. I blogged three years ago about waiting and I like to think I’ve improved. My stamina has certainly increased and I have a few go-to strategies if it gets out of hand, but despite this I still have days when I want to hibernate till the verdict is in.
First up, there is no right or wrong way. Sometimes you are waiting to hear about something you’re not that fussed about. Other times it is something you feel so passionately about it physically hurts. That’s okay. You’re human – it’s perfectly understandable to be excited about something you’ve poured your love and attention into. However, to live a life of waiting is miserable, so these are the ways I use to happily wait:
- I try to establish when I’m ‘likely’ to hear news. Beta readers often, if you ask nicely, will tell you when they’re planning to read and when they’re likely to email you. Agents often require 12 weeks, editors can be longer. If you have a book being published, you can find out when your proofs are going out. All this information helps you know when to expect news.
- Distraction, distraction, distraction. Do anything you can to take your mind off it – sort out a cupboard, catch up on your filing, do your tax return. To make it more pleasurable, do things that you consider a treat – go out for lunch, to the theatre, to the cinema, meet friends. I’ve just started re-watching The West Wing, so I’m all set for seven seasons! Fill your time, throw yourself whole-heartedly into the moment and enjoy yourself. You’ll feel nourished and your phone keeps track of anything you may have missed.
- The best distraction for me is reading. I use waiting time to catch up as I don’t read when I’m drafting or editing. I know this isn’t for everyone as someone else’s polished story can cause panic about your own. Do what suits you. This isn’t the time to add extra layers of angst to your life.
- If you are making that tricky step from writing as a hobby to taking it more seriously, then replacing the hobby gap in your life can help. It can be something that compliments your writing or something completely different.
- If you can, write the next thing. You will never regret it. But if you can’t, don’t worry about it.
- Chatting to other writers helps more than I can say – they get it, they’ve often been there and laughing about the tough bits is like balm to your submission-battered soul. Find your tribe.
- Have a plan B in case the news when it comes isn’t what you wanted. Then you can start working your way towards the next big wait.
Waiting isn’t something that will go away, same with rejection. As long as you are writing to be published, waiting and rejection are things that are guaranteed to happen regardless of how successful you are. The trick is to find ways of dealing with these feelings and try to turn the waiting into a positive experience.