January 17, 2014

Casual Friday: Zen or the art of playing the waiting game

Zen or the art of playing the waiting game

No matter where we are in our journey toward getting published, a few things will never change: the words. The nerves. And the waiting.

"We all wait sometimes..." (c) max_thinks_sees, used under a creative commons license.
While writing itself may be a lonely endeavor, writing to get published is anything but. We’re in this together but we’re also dependent on each other. Which means there’s always something worth waiting for: #PitchWars results (which may or may not have prompted this post), notes from a reader or CP, the go-ahead on that announcement, your edit letter, a cover mock-up, reactions to queries or submissions, and so on.

And let’s face it, waiting is HARD. We all spent a lot of time waiting, and I don't think it's anyone's favorite pastime. Except... personally? I don't mind waiting. I would prefer not to, but I've learned long ago that having to wait isn't something I can influence. How I'm waiting, is something I can.

Because, really, waiting most likely isn't about me or about you (and thinking it is, is one surefire way to make those aforementioned nerves skyrocket). Truth is, no one is intentionally making you wait any long than necessary. That agent who hasn't replied to your query yet? Most likely spends most of their time on their clients. The edit letter you're waiting for? Chances are you aren't the editor's only author. What you are though, is in this for the long run—and so are the people around you.

So for me, these are my four strategies of zen, or the art of playing the waiting game.
  1. Write. In the end, there’s nothing you can influence but the words you write. So work on that new project. Improve your craft. Challenge yourself to write that one story that scares you, or choose that shiny new idea that makes you so excited you can’t think of anything else.
  2. Replenish your creative energy:
    1. Read. If you’re anything like me—or any other writer I know—you’re always behind on your tbr-pile. Take some time to catch up. Read as much as you can and revel in the words.
    2. Go see a movie, or a theater show, or a sports match. If you have the chance, take the night off and go do something completely different for a change. I love the excitement and creativity. I love the passion of sports games. Find something that works for you and treat yourself to a night out.
  3. Connect with other writers. Whether that means your CPs or new friends, find someone who knows the woes of waiting, so to speak ;) Find a private place to rant if you can’t stand it any longer. Just make sure you never, ever do it in public.
  4. Having said that, don’t wait for infinity either. Be sensible about your career. If you’re waiting on that full for longer than six months or that partial for longer than three, nudge. If you don’t hear back from your reader after a reasonable time, do check in. When you hire a freelance editor, do discuss a schedule too. But after that? Always go back to that next story and keep writing forward.

What are your best strategies for playing the waiting game?


Genetta said...

Excellent suggestions, Marieke! I would add that encouraging others in their writing process is extremely helpful for me and takes my mind off my own wait. And I have a feeling it might be for you, too. You've been an amazing encourager to me in #PitchWars!

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