On Waiting As Writers

It’s no secret that writers spend a lot of time waiting.

  • When drafting: We wait for inspiration. We wait for time to write.
  • When revising: We wait for critique partners to send feedback.
  • When entering online writing contests: We wait to be chosen.
  • When querying: We wait for agents to fall in love with our work.
  • When on submission: We wait for editors to fall in love with our work.
  • When the book deal is signed: We wait for edits, the contract, the payment, subsidiary rights news, the cover, advanced reader copies, trade reviews, etc.

 

You’ve probably heard that saying about how writing is rewriting. I will add that writing is also waiting, because the waiting never goes away!

Here’s another famous saying: A watched inbox never boils. (Or something.)

What I’ve learned over the years is that when I focus on something else, the waiting becomes more bearable. Working on another project not only distracts me, but it also makes me feel like I am taking charge and being proactive. Speaking as a Virgo who needs to feel like she has some semblance of control at ALL times, doing something while waiting relieves my anxiety.

So let’s take that list up above and add some suggestions:

 

  • When drafting: We wait for inspiration. We wait for time to write.
    • In the meantime:
      • Bring a pen and notebook everywhere. Jot down ideas whenever they pop up.
      • Research something that is in your story. Watch a related movie, read a book, or listen to music to kickstart inspiration.
      • Try something new: write by hand if you’re a typer. Type in purple font if you usually do black. Draft a scene out of order if you’re a chronological writer. Free-write. Sometimes changing up your process can help you get back into the story.
      • Keep a planner or bullet journal to help carve out writing time. Put a sticker on the days you write and make yourself earn them (a trick I learned from V.E. Schwab’s blog; it does work!).

 

  • When revising: We wait for critique partners to send feedback.
    • In the meantime:
      • Think of ideas for your next book and start researching!
      • Look up potential agents. Just because you won’t be ready to query right away doesn’t mean you can’t prepare.
      • Draft a query and synopsis. Even if your story changes after revisions, you can always edit these later.
      • If you want to enter an online writing contest, draft a pitch or two. Get some eyes on it.

 

  • When entering online writing contests: We wait to be chosen.
    • In the meantime:
      • If it’s a contest where agents request, research the participants. Even if they don’t request your manuscript, you can query them later with what you already know!
      • Study other people’s pitches. Find the most requested ones and observe what they did well. How can you apply those techniques to your own writing?
      • Notice which agents are requesting books similar to your own. Add them to your query list!

 

  • When querying: We wait for agents to fall in love with our work.
    • In the meantime:
      • Keep sending queries out! I queried in batches of 5-10 and for every form rejection, I’d immediately send another letter out like clockwork.
      • Keep researching potential agents to add to your list.
      • Write your next book! Interested agents will ask, “What are you working on next?”
      • Gather questions to ask agents who offer to represent you.

 

  • When on submission: We wait for editors to fall in love with our work.
    • In the meantime:
      • Write your next book! Editors will ask, “What else are you working on?” Have a synopsis ready, too, even if it’s a tentative one.
      • Build up your online presence, if you want to. Creating a simple website wouldn’t be a bad idea.
      • Pay attention to personalized feedback from editors. Keep track of it somewhere and notice patterns. You can discuss it later with your agent, or with the editor who buys your book!
      • Remember to rest and take care of yourself. Read for fun, binge-watch TV, eat ice cream. “Doing something else while waiting” doesn’t always have to be work-related.

 

  • When the book deal is signed: We wait for: edits, the contract, the payment, subsidiary rights news, the cover, advanced reader copies, trade reviews, etc.
    • In the meantime:
      • Write your next book! (Are you sensing a pattern here?!)
      • Continue building up your online presence if you want to. Think about ways to spread the word about your book.
      • Join a debut group if you can. They can be extremely helpful!

 

As with all blog posts I write, these are suggestions only! They are what I found to be helpful, from my own experience.

Not every writer is the same, so if you find it tough to concentrate or work on anything else while waiting, please don’t feel bad and don’t force yourself. You know you and your process best. Do what feels right and take a lot of time out to breathe and relax. I find writing to be a unique passion because while it can fulfill you, aspects of it can also drain you quickly.

So here’s my question for all of you: How do you wait? Any tips or suggestions for fellow writers?

3 Responses to On Waiting As Writers

  1. Kristin Aug 16 2017 at 9:23 am #

    Great suggestions! I will take your advice and get going on that next book while I wait for agents to review my full. Something that works for me – long bike rides and going to the movies.

    • Jules
      Jules Aug 16 2017 at 4:28 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading, Kristin! And good luck with drafting and hearing back from agents! Going for bike rides and heading to the movies is such a good way to spend the waiting period 🙂

  2. Ali Lawati Aug 17 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    Great tips Julie. Congratulations on your debut novel! Reading other authors in the genre one writes in, is a great way to wait it out, and writing out of one’s comfort zone is pretty effective too.

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