POINT OF VIEW: Learning to Wait

I’m not a good waiter.

Two weeks ago, I submitted my latest novel, “Dropnauts,” to an online contest called Pitch Wars. Pitch Wars is a chance to snag a mentor with publishing experience, who will spend the next three months with you reworking your novel, and in the end, it will be posted to the Pitch Wars site for agents to look at and consider.

Pitch Wars has 102 mentors this year, and 3,500 novels submitted.

I am waiting to see if one of the four mentors I submitted the story to decides they want to see more, and the wait is just about killing me.

Writing is waiting.

Waiting for inspiration. Waiting for story issues to resolve themselves in your subconscious. Waiting for beta readers and editors to get the book back to you.

But the worst of all of these is the wait after submission, waiting to see if what you wrote was good enough to make the cut.

So what’s a writer to do? I have some ideas, drawn from my five years as a professional in this craft:

  1. Work on another project: Dive into something new. Your writer brain is full of ideas – why not indulge one of them? Write another novel. Craft a short story for an anthology or magazine you want to get in. Or pull out an old project and dust it off. Every moment you spend working on something new is a moment when you’re not worrying about your submission.
  2. Think about your next move: What happens if your story is ultimately rejected? Do you want to self publish it? Send it off somewhere else? What is your ultimate goal for this work? Creating a plan can make you feel better during the wait, and if your story does end up coming back to you.
  3. Research, research, research: Now that you know what you want to do with your story on the chance that you get rejected, channel that into action. Want to send it to another publisher? Research – who else takes this kind of work? Who else is accepting new authors? Want to snag an agent? Research – who are the good ones, and what’s the best way to approach them? Want to self publish? Research – do you know how? If so, are there steps you can take to prepare, or to learn how to do it better?
  4. Clean up the to-do list: What writing-related things have you been putting off while working on your opus? Work on your website. Do some backlist promotion. Make some new networking contacts. Plot out your next novel. Take a few courses to improve your writing skills and polish your style. Make waiting work for you.
  5. Find some support: Last but not least – we writers are human. We can only put off worrying about what someone else thinks of our baby for so long. Find a few folks whom you can talk to privately – folks who will let you cry on their shoulders until your book is either accepted or rejected.

What am I doing while I wait? At the moment, I am making plans for the next step with my book, and doing research to figure out where to go on the day my manuscript comes back.

And if it’s accepted? There will be dancing in the Coatsworth-Guzman household.

But until then, I will keep my worried little writer brain busy.

To my writer friends – how do you handle the wait after submission? Any tips?

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