Sometimes, it feels like nothing is happening.
Even published, with lots of new demands on my time, there’s occasionally a moment of feeling like everything is going stagnant. For me, this is usually in that weird quiet time a few months after a book has come out, but before anything fun starts happening with the next one. Other writers hit that wall of NOTHING IS HAPPENING at other points.
My impulse is always to make something happen. I go at it by emailing my agent and editor with non-helpful notes that say “What can I be doing that would be helpful right now?” The replies are usually “Go take a nap, Meadows.”
I’ve posted before about waiting, and things to do while, and those things still apply. But let’s talk about feelings this time.
Usually, for me, this stagnant feeling comes from a sudden feeling of powerlessness, and a desire for some kind of control to better my career.
If only I did some sort of advertising, it would sell a few more books.
If only I did some kind of promotion, it would boost my sales rank.
If only I could tell enough people about my book, they’d all love my book and give it five stars.
If only I make my editor pay attention to me, even though there’s literally nothing she needs to be doing for me right now, it will make my whole publishing house more excited about my books.
If only, if only, if only . . .
Sometimes it’s a reaction from the “hurry up and wait” part of publishing, where I get so used to moving quickly for weeks or months, trying to get everything to everyone — and then suddenly no one needs anything for a while. There’s a strange disoriented feeling, like I’m supposed to be doing something, but I have no idea what it is.
And these feelings are certainly not exclusive to post-publication. When I was querying, I’d send out more queries just to scratch that itch of needing to take action. When I was on submission, it took everything in me not to email my agent every five seconds to ask for an update.
If you’re waiting, I want you to know that I understand this is a hard time. I understand you want to do something. So here’s a big pile of hugs (or air hugs if you’re protective of personal space), and a reminder that there is something you can do. Something you should be doing. And it’s the only thing you can actually control in this whole business.
You can write.
Dive into whatever project you’re working on, and enjoy it, because there will come a time when other demands begin to encroach on that writing time until it feels crushed. Realize that right now is when you have the best opportunity to work on your book unencumbered by other obligations.
This is your writing time. Don’t let it go to waste.