The Waiting Game

Is there anything more onerous to a writer than the waiting game? Most people tackle a project and then, well, they’re done. Not fiction writers, oh no. They “finish” their work (which could take months, a year, or even years) and send it away, only to have the really time consuming part of the job start: the waiting.

Lurking dangers surround all that waiting. Self-doubt has lots of time to imagine unkind things being said to your story’s face (and to do its own unkind muttering in your head). The desire for regular coffee money might trick you into some cave of a job where you’re paid by the hour. Writer’s block (if you subscribe to that kind of notion) is more prone to leap upon you and starting chewing on your throat—especially if what you want to write next might depend (foolishly!) on whether the circulating work sells (my advice: write like it sells, or don’t and start something entirely new—just write!).

It’s not all bad though. If you let it, waiting to hear back can be kind of like counting down to a vacation. Each passing day is one closer to at least some sort of a response, the wait gets sweeter, the anticipation builds. I’ve learned to use the hope that just won’t die (I’m bandaging my throat here as you read!) as motivation to write the next thing. While your words sit on someone’s desk, there is the endless opportunity that said words might find a home—someone might like that story, poem, article, or what-have-you. Nothing is more inspiring than the idea that someone might relate to your offerings and even (gleep!) want more of them. Exciting stuff.

I try to take full advantage of this wait/hope phenomenon by keeping 6 – 8 things “out there” all the time. That way, rejection doesn’t hurt as much (hope sprints over to another project to rest on) and my inner-creep can’t do as much of a job on my self-esteem.

Hmmmm . . . Is there a point to this post? Yes (lectures self), get your stuff out there and keep it out there until it finds a home. And in the meantime, the waiting time, get busy on the next idea.

Happy writing,
☺ Ev

Write here. Write now.

I meet and work with a lot of aspiring writers, and I have heard every imaginable excuse as to why they want to write, but can’t—everything from where they live (like only people in London, New York, or Istanbul can pick up a pen or sit down at a computer?), to having too many demands at home or at work, to not having enough other things to do to “feed” their muse. Sometimes I find myself making up reasons for why I couldn’t, why I didn’t, why I shouldn’t write today….

I have also met countless writers who achieve mind-boggling word counts in spite of brutal schedules and complex life situations. I aspire to be like them (in terms of output, not suffering!). I want to write 30+ novels. I want to craft essays, articles, and short stories too numerous to mention…. I want to reach out into the void with my words and have even just one person respond with, that’s how I feel.

I love Barbara Kingsolver’s line, “There is no perfect time to write…. There is only now.” The three forces—writers’ excuses, writers’ examples, and BK’s wisdom—forge my own writing motto: Write here. Write now.

May this blog be an encouragement and a motivation to those of us who write, not soon, not later, not when we’re moved to, not when it’s easier to do so, but now.