I’ve written about waiting before but I feel like talking about it again today. Maybe it’s because I’m waiting on things… I don’t know. I guess I can’t really say that’s the reason because honestly, as writers and illustrators working toward publication aren’t we always waiting on something? Waiting for the perfect ending for our story to come to us… waiting to hear back from critique partners… waiting to hear back on queries. Waiting, waiting, waiting! Just because you have an agent or get a book published that doesn’t mean the waiting stops either. You’re still waiting for all of the same old things you used to wait for in one form or another.

I know how it feels when you send out a submission. There are possibilities that someone could like what you have sent. They might even LOVE it. You want to know what they think. You want to hear back right now! Wouldn’t that be great? Sure, but it’s not too realistic. No, it’s not even realistic if you have a requested manuscript or a requested revision or even an agent. Reading takes time and thought and isn’t always first on the list of things to do.

Okay, let’s be honest. Some of us have been known to refresh our inboxes incessantly. Or jump every time we get an email notification. DO NOT DO THAT.

Becoming published can take a very, very, very long time. The time spent in the black hole of waiting horrendously outnumbers the small moments of great news. It’s logical when you think about it. Spending time actually waiting is not. How long have you been submitting your work? Now, do you want to spend the same amount of time waiting?  Yes, I know, technically you ARE waiting. But don’t let the waiting overtake you. Move on the best you can. Get to work on more submissions or another project. Here’s some things to do to help you wait if you need them. And it’s always good to get outside and do something. It’s a lot better for you! When good news comes you’ll find it. I know you’re still going to check your email every day. 😀

The sun’s actually shining outside my window. Looks like I’d better get outside!

20 thoughts on “Waiting…

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  1. I’m waiting…. Refreshing inbox stops today! Working on a new story in between life stuff. Love this, Heather.


  2. Thanks for this! Always need to remember that we are writers–we need to be writing, to keeo writing, and let that be the focus. The submissions should occupy a much smaller space in our brains. I wish I could always follow this advice! And wouldn’t it be nice if we all had an assistant who handled all of the business stuff–just took it over so we could write and not think too much about the selling and publishing. Until that happens (it never will), staying sane and mentally healthy means not obsessing over submissions. Instead, focus on getting better as an artist. Writing new things and better things. And reading work that inspires. Being happy with that. Being present. Content.


    1. Sounds like you’re talking about an agent. They do take care of a lot that stuff. Definitely leaves more time for writing! It can happen. Still gotta keep on writing and waiting though!


  3. Thanks! I learn a little more patience each time I submit. My remedy? On the day I mail my submission, I mark the day I should get a response in my planner. I make a note to email them the following week if I still haven’t heard. And I just started including the contact information of my 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) choice submission too. I found that I am more likely to sub instead of sulk within the first few days of receiving a rejection if I have already done the research for my next choice. And thanks again. It’s because of SubItClub that I finally sent my work out into the world.


    1. It’s good to have a plan, for sure. I tend to give a bit more leeway on my submissions though–and extra 6 weeks or so. I have learned to be extremely patient I guess. And yes, you just have to move on when you get a rejection. Glad to hear you’re getting your work out there!


  4. There’s no question for me that what mitigates waiting most effectively is working seriously on something – anything that matters to me! – else. And then also, the John Keats quote from a letter to his brother in which he ponders “Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason…”


    1. We definitely have to learn to live in uncertainty. If we can it makes the waiting part of our writing life so much easier.


  5. Great post, Heather. Getting stuck into another story or researching one or sending one out is what I do to stop checking those elusive emails! What I find most frustrating is if a publisher says they will get you a contract in January and then March rolls around, and still nothing…confusing that’s for sure. Also entering competitions is another great distraction and hope-giver. Happy writing!


    1. Well yeah, that is a little different I think Kaye. Once you get to the contract stage you would hope there would be a bit more communication! At least there are lots of competitions for distraction I guess. 😉


  6. Thanks for the post! Lately I’ve been feeling like my submissions have all disappeared into a giant black hole. Great reminder to stop fretting about them and keep on trying.


    1. It can definitely feel that way. You just have to trust that your submissions are waiting in line and will be read when it’s their turn. To keep moving forward with submissions and writing definitely makes the waiting easier. Worrying over submission doesn’t do anything good for us. 🙂


  7. Yes, the best way to make waiting easier is to move on to writing the next thing. Get more out there. Here’s a question though: when is it time to stop waiting? If the wait time is listed as 4-6 months, do you pull your piece right at 6 months? Do you then send a follow up letter? What if you receive no response to that? How long is too long to wait?


    1. I would never pull a piece just because I hadn’t heard back on a submission. To me that would be counter productive. What if the place you’ve sent it to is seriously considering the manuscript? There are so many reasons that it can take longer than the stated response time to hear back on a submission. It happens. My personal policy is to always add 6-8 weeks to any stated response time before doing anything. I almost always hear back by then. if I don’t I check all available outlets (submission guidelines-policy could have changed, blogs, twitter, querytracker, etc.) where I might find response times or if the person I subbed to has gone to a conference or something like that and needs more time. Once I’ve done all that and still haven’t heard back I would send a short status query. You may or may not hear back on it. That’s just how it goes sometimes. Move on and get more submissions out there. I talked some more about that here: http://frolickingthroughcyberspace.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-hazards-of-being-professional-waiter.html


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