A Writer’s Life: Waiting

No one likes to wait. Whether we’re in the movie theater, in line at the bank, or refreshing your email browser, no one enjoys that feeling. Some of us ease the wait by playing on our phones, bringing a book along, or daydreaming, but the result is the same.

Time wasted.

Stuck in a place we’d rather be, sometimes waiting for something we’d rather not do. It’s frustrating, it’s a bit of a pain, and as adults, writers, and creatives, it’s something we all have to put up with and learn to deal with in a healthy way. After all, publishing a book is alllllll about the waiting. Agents have hundreds of submissions to sift through. Publishers have queues of books to release before yours will be ready. Everything about this process is slow.

And slow is hard if your mindset is wrong.

Waiting

As frustrating and unproductive as waiting feels, it can be turned into valuable—even vital—time for a writer. Depending, of course, on our mindset while we wait.

Waiting can strengthen you as a writer—or it can undermine you.

Waiting—especially waiting for responses on queries, submissions, or feedback—can seriously undermine a writer’s confidence in themselves or their work. Questions crop up in the silence that we’d rather not face. Questions like, have I just made a complete fool of myself? Or, are they taking so long to reply because they totally hate it?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the waiting is where I get the most insecure about what I’ve sent in. If I let myself, I can get into the worst, most damaging funks while I wait, and I can forget about getting any writing done in the meantime.

How To Make It Happen

And yet, I still have to write. I still have to continue on. The world doesn’t stop because I’m waiting for someone to respond to an email or an agent to finish reading my query and respond.

If the writing stops while I wait, I’ve both wasted endless amounts of time and trained my mind to stop producing under stress.

Neither of those are good things.

So, I’ve learned to keep going. I do it with two truths, three tricks, and a moment of stillness.

Truth #1

Waiting isn’t empty time. It might feel like empty time, it might feel like an ‘in-between’, but it isn’t. How you choose to fill your ‘in-between’ moments will ultimately determine what kind of writer you are and how well you produce under pressure.

It isn’t empty time. It’s extra time. Valuable time. Time to write, time to learn, time to develop your skills.

Truth #2

Your attitude is everything. Your work will suffer or thrive depending on how you view the waiting—and if you’re stressed out, convinced that your work isn’t being valued, or spending the time complaining, you aren’t taking advantage of the precious time you have ahead of you.

Three Tricks

  1. Don’t waste the time. As a writer who is pressed for time—all the time—I do my best to keep from wasting all my time on stress. Especially when I’m waiting for a reply. (Which, incidentally, I am doing this week.) Instead of focusing on the waiting, I get things done. If I don’t have the creativity for stories, I write tweets, blog posts, do some graphic design. Anything to check tasks off my to-do list and use the time I have wisely.
  2. Don’t check obsessively. I am the absolute worst about this one. Email, Facebook, Twitter. When I’m waiting for something, I check and recheck and double-check just to be sure. And it has never once has made any difference in how quickly my replies come through. Sometimes it really is better to shelve your phone for a while and move on to something else.
  3. Enjoy right now instead of focusing on someday. Someday will come, and when it comes it will have its own set of frustrations, fears, and headaches. Deal with them when they come, not now. Right now, enjoy the fact that you have time to write, that you have a project to work on, and that—even in this world of nine-to-fives—you get to be creative. That’s a gift.

A Moment Of Stillness

Take a moment. Be still. Close your eyes, and ground yourself. Take joy in where you are, in this stage of your journey, in the moment.

There is no hurry.

No rush.

No overwhelming need to race through your journey.

It may be tomorrow. It may be in six months. Whatever the time frame, you are still on the way, and you are still far ahead of those people who have given up, or never had the courage to try.

So pause. Take a deep breath. Have a moment of stillness and continue on.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

What are you waiting for today? How are you using the in-between time to further yourself and your journey? Tell me about it in the comments, and stay tuned for next week, when we will be talking about faithfulness and the necessity of it in a writer’s journey.

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