A Writerly Pilot Light

photo by ul_Marga

I don’t know why it always surprises me. I’ve been here before. And I was warned before my first time. Those ahead of me on their writerly journeys said it again and again: “The waiting is hell.” And yet I find I have to relearn it. Every time.

Waiting.

Hell.

As fiction writers, at some point we all go through it. And in some way, shape, or form, the fate of our work hangs in the balance. Whether it’s being beta-read, edited, or submitted, having your manuscript out in the world is like placing a little piece of your soul in the hands of others. Oh, I know I’m not supposed to care, that I should divorce myself from concern over subjective opinions. I know I should let go of the outcome and move on. Maybe it’s easier for you. Maybe you can hit send and shrug it off and forget about it.

I tell myself I can. And some days it helps… a little. Other days I realize I’m just kidding myself.

And what do we do when the wait is over? For me, each time it’s been the same. I absorb the feedback, trying to focus on the good news but totally internalizing the bad. I celebrate and/or wallow. Then I dive back in, feverishly revising the work based upon what I’ve learned. Only to start the process all over, sending it out again. And to end up waiting. Again.

A Literary Uni-tasker

The sage advice I often hear regarding waiting is: move on. Start another project. Begin writing the next one.

I think it’s brilliant… if you can manage it. I’ve tried but, unfortunately, I’ve found I can’t. When I am in a story, I find I must totally submerge myself. It’s never easy in the beginning, but once I’m immersed, I’m good—life is good. My writerly flame burns bright. (Submerged and burning, you ask? Sorry for the mixed metaphor, but I need fire to harden my point).

I’ve long had an idea for a novel which would be a total departure for me. I’ve even jotted quite a few notes. I’m excited about it. So for my most recent waiting period, I thought I’d attempt to outline the new story. Not only could I not submerge, I’d hardly gotten my feet wet before my thoughts strayed back to the story I had sent out into the world.

To Avoid Counting Flowers on the Walls of Hell

So what’s a uni-tasking writer to do? Just wait? Play solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one? Take up smoking cigarettes and watching reruns of Captain Kangaroo? With apologies to the Statler Brothers, I found that surrendering to the wait just wouldn’t work.

Left to its own devices, with too much time on hand, my brain will stray to the dark side. Doubts loom large. My literary dreams become a joke to my dark-side brain. My writerly flame becomes a guttering candle.

Burning Low But Constant

I figured out that I needed a literary pilot light—a constantly-fueled small flame, ready to fire my literary burners at a moment’s notice. To sort out the various sources I’ve found to fuel my pilot light, I started compiling this list. Hopefully, some of them will help you.

  • Read—I try to make it a routine, segmenting a part of my day, sitting upright, with a pen and notebook ready. Particularly books on craft. And I find that those with exercises help keep me sharp when I’m not writing. I also like to read books in my own genre, or reread old favorites, noting the things I think the author has done well, as well as examining the things I think could’ve been done better and why.
  • Write—I know I just said I can’t work on a new project while I wait, but that doesn’t mean I stop writing. I try to write something every day—work on a blog post (like this), a book review, rewrite a scene or a chapter (even for the book out in the world), compose an elaborate Facebook status.
  • Revisit—One of the ways I’ve found to overcome self-doubt is to reread older work. Sometimes I go to a favorite scene or a blog post that resonated with others. If you keep a file with letters and notes of praise you’ve received, like I do, now’s the time to open it. Other times I take a risk, opening one of my manuscript docs and spin randomly down to a scene to evaluate its effectiveness as a standalone. It helps to remind myself that I occasionally get words down in the right order.
  • Share—A beta-swap while your work is out on submission? Why not? It may not seem like a good time for this, but I’ve found it helps. If you’re waiting for evaluation from one source, why not add more? And reading someone else’s work, putting yourself out there to help a fellow writer, can help keep your mind off your wait as well as fuel your pilot light.
  • Reach out—There’s nothing quite like good old community contact. Go to your writing community forums (obviously the WU page first and foremost, but there are others), and contribute to the conversations. Particularly on threads where your fellows are seeking advice or support. Read your tribe-mates’ blog posts and comment and share their links. Send a letter to a favorite author, telling her how much you love her work and why. Nothing beats the waiting-blues like helping others. Do it for the sake of doing it, and expect nothing in return. I promise, this one will become your most consistent fuel source for your writerly pilot light.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go check my email. Again.

How do you handle waiting? What keeps your writerly fire burning? Are there fuel sources you can add to my list? If so, please share.

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About Vaughn Roycroft

In the sixth grade, Vaughn’s teacher gave him a copy of The Hobbit, sparking a lifelong passion for reading and history. After college, life intervened, and Vaughn spent twenty years building a successful business. During those years, he and his wife built a getaway cottage near their favorite shoreline, in a fashion that would make the elves of Rivendell proud. After many milestone achievements, and with the mantra ‘life’s too short,’ they left their hectic lives in the business world, moved to their little cottage, and Vaughn finally returned to writing. Now he spends his days polishing his epic fantasy trilogy.

Comments

  1. says

    Vaughn, I love this list. I am the worst at waiting, it goes against every bit of my control freak nature. If I could insert myself into the mind of the reader and tell them what scenes to like, what words they should savor, what character to delight in, I would in a heartbeat. Sadly such a mental insurrection of another person’s conscious self isn’t possible or legal…yet!

    I love the idea of having a list of things to keep the paranoid mind active and distracted.

    Thanks!

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    • says

      Mental insurrection made me laugh. I’ve found that distraction and self-delusion are very handy tools for living the writing life.

      Thanks for the laughs, Karyne. I’m glad you found the tips helpful.

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    • says

      Ah, the “reminder” factor! Such an important addition, Barbara. I am reading a series right now, and was so moved last night by a surprise reunion of two of my favorite characters. Filled my heart right up. That’s exactly what the moment did–reminded me why I want to share my work. If there’s even the slightest chance I can move someone like that, it’ll all have been so worth it.

      Thanks for the great addition, Barbara!

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  2. says

    Positive. Upbeat. Generous (particularly the ‘Share’ and ‘Reach out’ items). Whether you get a Nobel in Literature or not, you’re sure to get Honorable Mention for Warm and Friendly Human Touch in the Humanities. In the morass of fretting over the me-ness of how do I get recognized, how do I get published, how do I get mine, you remind us of other, higher rewards of sharing and support of others. You ‘de man!

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    • says

      Shucks, Alex, you’re making me blush. I’ve said it before, but if I’m ‘da man, you’re ‘da pillar of ‘da WU community! That last one really does keep the flame burning steadily, doesn’t it? (I know that you know it.) Thanks for being such a warm presence here, and for your support. Much appreciated.

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  3. says

    Good list, Vaughn. I have cubbyholes in my brain, which reduces the fallout from one cubbyhole from entering the other. I became aware of this as a young child, and found it to be a useful trait. Of course, it’s impossible to keep things neatly compartmentalized all the time … this is partly why I stopped querying this year. The rejections got on my nerves (and the good ones hurt) and it was derailing my writing … Of course, I will need to get back to queryland again, but it won’t be until next year. But taking that break allowed me to finish a grueling revision.

    And honestly, multi-tasking is a myth. It’s just that our attention shifts from one task to another, but at any given moment you can only be engaged in one thing.

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    • says

      “Multi-tasking is a myth.” Brilliant, Vijaya! I want to print tee-shirts. I’m glad you set it aside for better focus. Good choice. And best of luck to you moving forward!

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  4. says

    Vaughn-

    Keep busy while you’re waiting? Good idea. I was glad not to see Solitaire and computer Scrabble on your list. Your ways of filling the time are great because they keep you connected.

    (OMG, is your novel out on submission??)

    The “hell” of waiting is human and understandable, I think. We do write to be read. Even if folks don’t like our work, they’ve at least read it. Or to put it differently, we have connected.

    And there you have it. Writing and waiting actually are the same. We’re reaching out a hand in the darkness, aching to feel the warmth of another hand grasping ours. We want to know we’re not alone.

    And you’re not alone. If you ever doubt it, come here. You’re in exactly the right place, Vaughn. Thanks for sharing. I don’t feel alone either.

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    • says

      How do you do it, Don? You always find the perfect angle to explore, to broaden the scope of almost every writerly conversation. Equating writing and waiting? I always call you WU’s craft guru, but this is so Zen-like. Deftly done!

      (To answer your question, not quite yet out on submission. I wrote this a short time back, while waiting for a few beta-readers. Very soon again, though, so a good time to review my own advice.)

      Thanks for finding the angles, Don, and for helping to make this the perfect place to be.

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  5. says

    As Tom Petty sang, the waiting is the hardest part. Your list is right on target, Vaughn. I like to work on a fresh, new project while I am waiting and I always have a good book I’m reading. Thanks, Vaughn, for all you do for WU.

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    • says

      Oh great, another earworm. Thanks a lot, Chris. ;-) It’s not a bad one, though. At least I love TP. I’m glad you are able to start fresh during your waiting periods. And back at you, thanks for being such a steady and supportive voice here at WU!

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  6. says

    Vaughn, it’s so exciting that you are at a place of waiting again! It means you’ve done a lot of hard work. I wish you the best with it.

    I love your list. When I’ve finished a project, I tend to read a lot of fiction –when I’m writing I skew toward nonfiction to give my brain a break.

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    • says

      It is exciting, isn’t it? Waiting is exciting? Sounds weird, but it’s true. Nonfiction is a great idea, Liz. Thanks for the suggestion, and for your support and well-wishes, my friend!

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  7. says

    Waiting does not bother me. Heck, I purposely take breaks while writing fiction to wait for the story to become more clear. During my waits, I write poetry, work on my blog, read, and continue to share an promote my work. Now I’m self published so I control most of the process other than editing, but I’m not sure I’d fret if I were waiting on a publisher either.

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    • says

      My hat is off to you, Dan. Sounds like you handle waiting better than most, particularly me. Poetry is a good idea. Of course I’d have to hide mine–or maybe burn it (I’m no poet). Thanks for weighing in!

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  8. says

    I am jittery and chaotic and impatient and doubtful and worryful and filled with just a teaspoon of self-loathing – you know, regular stuff most writers deal with *laugh* – The mistake I often see with “waiting” is we jump on something too quickly and make a mistake we may later regret, so finding ways to deal with the waiting until we find the right fit is important and necessary.

    So how do I, did I, deal with waiting? – vodka. lots and lots of vodka. Just kidding, though there were days, oh yes, there were days. I dealt with it by writing something else (though funny, now I find it hard to do that when I’m waiting for a new book to come out, I find it difficult to near impossible to start something else until the new book is out!), and I read, and I hike and run and do things out in nature a lot more than I even do when not waiting, and I pant and emote and discombobulate.

    There’s just no perfect thing to say. It sucks. Just what it is: suckity suckland of suckitude.

    But I’ll offer you a hug and kiss on the cheek if it’ll make you feel a little better :D

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    • says

      Lawd, Kat! You never fail to make me laugh. I nearly spit coffee on my computer when I got to the vodka. The nature hikes are a solid addition to the list. I know you’ve got a great environment for that, too (as do I). Wouldn’t it be fun if we could trade hiking zones every so often?

      Thanks for the laughs and the great additions (hiking and vodka)! And for the hug and kiss. Yes, it does help.

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  9. says

    My favorite is the sharing suggestion–because staying connected to other writers means we aren’t left to our own devices on the “dark side” for too long. Those connections will happily interrupt the bleaker moments and prod us into the light.

    The time spent reading/supporting other’s work not only fills the waiting hours, but also helps us grow. In helping others, I often see things I need to learn, the same things I could not see in my own work. Somehow once I’m brave enough to identify room for growth in writing that’s not mine, I’m able to pull the log out of my own eye. It’s part of the magic of giving back.

    Wishing you blessings on the your new revisions. I loved the previous tale, and I’m excited to find out what’s new. Who doesn’t love a little bit more of something that was awesome to begin with?

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    • says

      You’re so right, D–that the reading and sharing and critiquing of each other helps us grow while we wait. I think Guru Don (above) once said it here on WU–that reading and critiquing each other is the most important thing we can do as writers. And it’s great to be surrounded by friends who understand what we’re going through, who support and encourage us.

      Thanks so much for your ongoing support and for your kind praise, my friend. Fingers crossed, for both of us!

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  10. says

    I’m one of those people who can work on more than one project at a time, though one project is always the primary. Even so, your superb list is excellent advice for connecting with the larger writing world. Writing may be a mountain to climb, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep climbing the same mountain. Variety and diversity keep us fresh.

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  11. says

    I feel like much of the last two years of my life has been waiting! Beta-readers, agents, more readers, more agents…heights of hope and depths of despair. I’ve been waiting on this project to bear fruit for so long I’m totally OVER it. I’ve started a new project, though I’ve been struggling to find just the right form. I’m ready to live in the new world I’m creating with characters I really like and a story I feel will be fantastic if I can pull it off. Maybe it’s when you finally can put the old in the past, forget about it in a sense (though of course that’s really impossible) that it will finally strike the right chord and move forward to the next step in the great publishing machine. I’ve got a call scheduled for Friday with my almost-maybe-might-possibly-be-my-agent about that old project. Fingers crossed!

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    • says

      Erin- First, congrats on your call on Friday! Fingers crossed for you and Project #1. That’s exciting and encouraging stuff, so thanks for sharing it.

      I haven’t been there yet, able to be OVER a project and to truly move on. My gut tells me that you’re right, that doing so launches us forward, enabling us to find a fresh outlook on the process. Thanks for sharing your take on waiting and moving on, as well.

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  12. says

    I really do admire those who can handle writerly multi-tasking, Christina. And you’re so write about variety keeping us fresh. Thanks for offering a helping hand as I climb.

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  13. says

    While I waited, I wrote and I read, both in my genre and craft books from the best. I took classes and attended conferences. Mine was a long wait, punctuated by manuscripts going to committee and even pub board and more waiting.

    I can honestly say, having just signed this past week my first contract, it was worth the wait. Every minute of the 11 years it took. I’ve learned and honed and am proud of my debut novel.

    If we give up, we’ll never make it. So I tell everyone to keep on keeping on. Write, send it out and start on the next one. :)

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  14. says

    I do not do well with the “waiting” part of writing and sending out query letters. I try to fool myself into thinking one of the e-mails marked “query” is going to contain a sentence that does NOT say “Unfortunately”. But, alas, that’s all I’m getting these days and it’s hard to keep my chin up, so to speak. But I know all of you reading WU posts have gone through this same process and that WANA, right?

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    • says

      Thanks for sharing, Patricia. I find commiseration with my writing tribe really helps. I would offer a simple “keep your chin up,” but fortunately we have a few inspiring commenters I can point to above (Ane and Erin). As Ane says, keep on keepin’ on!

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  15. Denise Willson says

    Chocolate is the answer to every dilemma, Vaughn, including the wait. Willy Wonka, my man, get yourself some Wonka. :)

    Denise Willson
    Author of A Keeper’s Truth

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    • says

      Sage advice, Denise. As far as Wonka goes, when it comes to waiting, I wish I had Charlie’s faith and patience, but I’d probably make a better Veruca (without the millions, sadly). But, yes, while waiting it can’t be all bad to indulge your inner Augustus. Thank you!

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  16. says

    “Submerged and burning … I need fire to harden my point.” This line got to me, Vaughn. Loved it! When I’m playing the waiting game, I jump on one of my other novels in progress, even though it always feels like the rebound guy I’m with because the one I really want left. What pours out on the page is likely to be dark and tearful and thick with self-pity and whorish longings. But I know that eventually, Rebound will be Loverman and another not-quite-right-yet novel will take the Rebound spot. So it’s all good.

    Sophia Ryan
    –She Likes It Irish

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    • says

      “Rebound guy.” Love that. As far as my switching to a rebound novel, I’d drive her crazy, always thinking about, talking about, writing notes to, my ex. for me it’s better to hunker down in singles-ville during the wait. Thanks for the clever take, Sophia!

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  17. says

    Vaughn, you’re not the only one who has trouble moving on to a new project until the first is ‘finished’. My creative mind has to be ready to start something new, I can’t force it. The pantster in me finds it hard to hold two stories in my head at the same time. All my energy need to focus on getting to know one story at a time or else I feel like I’m cheating, like I’m not giving my full attention to either of them and they both suffer somehow. I’m learning this is my process, and that’s ok. I love your list of how to cope in the meantime. Sharing, reading, writing, all great ways to stay connected in between. I wish I could tell you that the waiting ends, but even after you’ve signed that contract there’s more waiting. Waiting for edits to come back, for cover reveals, for publication dates, for reviews, sales numbers, royalty checks. I wonder if anyone ever gets used to it. Sometimes it’s tough to keep the flame burning in between books. Here’s to keeping your pilot light lit, and thank you for sharing your light with all of us.

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    • says

      Another relationship metaphor, and also spot-on. Yes, Heather, it does feel like cheating. And I agree, in my case both would suffer. Aw heck, you mean the waiting never ends? I’m going to pretend I never heard that. I prefer my cozy dream-world, where all my problems come to an end with that contract. ;-) Seriously, thanks for the reminder. Good thing we’re getting the practice, eh? Thanks for sharing your experience, my friend!

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  18. says

    Oh Vaughn, I hate waiting even to hear about my small magazine submissions, I can’t imagine the big wait for a book– your baby! This indeed must be the tough part for any writer. You offer great suggestions. I hope you do take this time to refuel your creative tank– reading, lots of walks in nature (and with the dog!), pursuing musical interests– whatever feeds your heart and soul.

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    • says

      My writing partner (my black lab, Belle) never fails to cheer me up. She can tell when I need a nature hike even better than I can. And music always helps, too. You’re so right, Julie–these are great sources for refueling! Thanks for enhancing the conversation!

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  19. Bernadette Phipps-Lincke says

    Waiting is hell. Tom Petty even devoted a song to waiting. Because, the waiting is the hardest part.

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  20. says

    I like the reading and revisiting ideas. Just recently I printed copies of my published works so I can have them in one place and use them as inspiration. It’s important to do that too, because if a writer has a story in an online only magazine, there’s that chance the story could disappear if the magazine folds.

    I’m anxious because my first novel is in the hands of an editor now, and the wait IS so hard! But it’s a good problem to have :) I’m like you, I just can’t work on that next book yet–I need closure! Haha. In the meantime, there are always blog posts and short stories to write.

    I hope your wait isn’t so bad. I agree with the above comment that suggested chocolate.

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  21. says

    Good advice, Elizabeth, on keeping hard copies of online only pubbed pieces. I hope others see and heed it. Congrats on getting your first novel to your editor! You’re right, that is a *good* problem. Wishing swift closure and chocolate to you, my fellow uni-tasker!

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  22. Lisa Threadgill says

    Love the list. I do plenty of reading while I’m waiting. The other things…not so much. Perhaps I should try them. My mind runs around and around like a hamster on a wheel when I’m waiting, and as active as my mind is on its endless and useless loop, everything else is as paralized as if I’ve been struck with a curare-tipped dart by some kind of literary assassin. I hate it, and yet I’ve not found a way to make it stop. I’ve heard all the advice, too, and yet my psyche screams “You CAN’T!!! If you let go of this wheel you’ll spin out into space and break into a million pieces of writing suckism.” Arrgh.

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    • says

      I already knew it about you, but you’re clearly a writer who CAN! Wonderful imagery here, what with the spinning brain and the poisoned dart lethargy and the literary assassin. I’m so looking forward to reading you, so, sorry, you’ll have to stay on the wheel until your work is out in the world.

      Hope some of my suggestions offer a bit of a curare antidote. (Btw, I know you practice the last one–reaching out. You are a vital part of our tribe’s support system, Lisa!) Thanks for a very entertaining comment, my friend!

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    • says

      Thanks, Kerry Ann! They say “patience is a virtue,” but I rarely feel virtuous while I’m waiting. I have noticed that most things worth achieving take time, so I suppose I can only continue to strive for patience. Good luck to you, as well.

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  23. says

    I never realized how impatient I was until I became a writer. It has truly been a steep learning curve to learn to let go of things I have no control over, including the time spent waiting for one thing or another. I especially liked your suggestion to do nice things for others, for no other reason than to be nice – expecting no return. Very Vaugn-ish and very wise. Wait, wisdom is Vaughn-ish, too!

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    • says

      Aw shucks, Lara, you’re making me blush. Isn’t this gig an ongoing lesson in patience and releasing the outcome? I know doing nice things without expectations is a specialty of yours. You’ve been doing nice things for a long time now. I really do appreciate it, my friend!

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  24. says

    Oh my god. You’re me. YOU’RE ME.

    I do exactly what you do to combat submission anxiety, and I feel exactly like you do about starting the next project like you’re “supposed to.” I write every single day, but usually it’s not fiction. Usually it’s communication, essays, rants, rambles, or blog posts. And when I’m writing fiction, I’m still writing communication, essays, rants, rambles, or blog posts about writing fiction. :D

    And yes, reading helps.

    You know what I did? When my novel went on submission to publishers, I combated the anxiety by working on my nonfiction book. I thought that would help. And then that got signed to another agent and went on submission too, which didn’t help with the anxiety. It’s not pretty over here at ALL.

    I think part of what’s helping me stay afloat is the support and communication of all the online authors I know, and I need all the help I can get. :/

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    • says

      Hey, glad to meet my long-lost “waiting” twin, Julie! Hey, maybe I should start a nonfiction project. That’s something I’ve never tried.

      Thanks for reaching out, helping me stay afloat. :-) Wishing you all the best with both of your projects!

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  25. says

    Great post, Vaughn! Waiting is difficult, and you sound healthy in your approach (and your evaluation of being a “uni-tasker.”) Sometimes I wonder if I was made a writer to learn the Zen of letting go of things that are out of my control and focusing on the things that are. Other times, I just eat cookies right out of the box. :) Your way is better.

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    • says

      I don’t know, Cathy. Cookies right out of the box are sounding pretty damn good right now. (That seriously cracked me up!) Thanks for the laugh and for everything you’ve done to get me to, and through, the waits, my mentor!

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  26. says

    Thank you for more sage advice.

    I did it all during my waiting period- I even tried so hard to work on a new story, but the mojo wasn’t there.

    Happily, I have wonderful friends and my online writerly stomping grounds for the support.

    I’ve also discovered the waiting may be a good time for a manicure. I’ve chewed my nails ragged.

    Wonderful blog post and more great suggestions. I admire how you put your humanity into everything you write and share. I don’t know about others, but it makes me a little less afraid of the dark side. I know it’s there, but I know I don’t have to submerge myself in the frothing waters. There’s something brilliant about not fearing the fear.

    My once suggestion: Add dance to the list. Take your beautiful wife out and dance out all those natty kinks. :)

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  27. says

    A lack of mojo–that’s the perfect description for it. Thank goodness we all have each other, right Tonia? I’m with you on the manicure. I hear they have nail salons for guys now, with big screen featuring sports.

    I love “Not fearing the fear,” and I’d be honored if I helped you in that regard. And dancing! Perfect addition to the list. Well done!

    Thanks for being part of my support network, my friend!

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  28. says

    Thank you for the earwig. I haven’t thought about that song for so long. Love it!
    Oh, yes, and waiting. Hmm, yeah. Not my favoutie activity but it’s necessary. I thankful that I am one of those authors who can work on other projects when I’m waiting. And I do many of the things you’ve listed.

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  29. says

    Vaughn, a “Writerly Pilot Light” is such a nice phrase, and an even better concept. My brain readily strays to the dark side (bad brain!) as well, and you present a kind of Zen-like appeal in your read/write/reach outs—they have an almost meditative quality. Perhaps you should offer classes in writerly grounding (there must be chanting, and if you have incense, make sure it’s of high quality).

    I’m waiting on answers to various queries myself, but I’ve just begun reading Stephen King’s On Writing, so I’m starting at your list with #1, and working down…

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    • says

      Good idea, Tom. I presume the chanting should be some sort of an outcome-releasing mantra, and the incense should be of the soothing, aroma-therapy type–perhaps with Eucalyptus. Anyone who checks their phone to find a response email would necessarily be immediately ousted.

      You certainly made a great choice in the first category. On Writing is a favorite of mine. Thanks for weighing in. Wishing you calm, patient waiting and the best of luck for the results of it.

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  30. says

    Roy,

    You’ve dipped us so sweetly into yet another vat of vulnerability.

    Looking more at waiting, it seems creativity is fused (infused) with waiting—waiting for the kernel of inspiration (the next WIP), waiting for the characters to “get dressed”, waiting for their challenge to unfold, waiting for solutions, waiting for words to come. You get the idea. I hope I’m not the only one who feels the space inside the power of creativity. It’s exciting, because it’s so tenuous, so improbable, like tight rope walking or maybe even skating on a lake without ice. No one else knows that we do it and we writers know/fear it defies reality. Exciting and painful, like falling in love.

    Like you, I’m waiting right now, too. It’s going to publishers and my days are tender, but it is the tender of creating; it’s a joy/sorrow feeling, this writing and this waiting. I have another in the works, but know full well, when the now-finished one gets sold, (power of suggestion) I’ll have to crack into it again for revisions. In the meantime, I love your advice to help others and will be happy to Beta-read a few completed works of WUers. Contact info is on my website.

    Keep the flame burning.

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  31. says

    Welcome to the vat, Tom. As you can see, the conditions are just fine in here. I love the excitement you describe. Very poetic description. Almost makes me welcome waiting in to my life. I am in awe of that tight rope walk. Your self-awareness tells me you are going to do very well in this business.

    And what a generous offer! I hope those who need it, see it, and reach out to you. I have met some of the most wonderful people I know right here, in this very comment thread.

    The little box I am typing in right now is really a powerful spot–a magic box, if you will. It’s changed my writing life immeasurably. I recommend those who doubt to keep using it and see.

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  32. says

    Vaughn,

    Good things come to those who wait. Yeah, I know we’re supposed to avoid clichés, but they become adages for a reason. They’ve “stood the test of time.” Dang. Can’t seem to get off them this morning.

    Thus far, I’ve only had to wait on competition entries—and only a few of them at that. They tend to have a decision date ahead of time, so I let them go and start getting ansy around that time, checking to see if it was selected. Then I usually realize, “Hey, it was a last-minute piece of crap anyway. I’ll take my time on the next one.” It calms me through that crisis.

    During the wait, I go about all the writerly stuff, as I see you doing, and pretty much do the same. And the household stuff. Life goes on.

    My life is very busy. I usually have to make others wait. So, keeping that in mind, I take the waiting torture in stride.

    Great post!

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    • says

      Mike – You missed “patience is a virtue,” but it’s early yet. ;-)

      You bring up a couple of solid points. First, no matter what the result of the wait, life *does* go on. We submit again, we write again. Either the same piece or another. Nothing is *finished* until it’s printed and on the shelf. And that’s just a milestone, nowhere near the end of the journey.

      Also, we are often the cause of someone else’s wait. I’ve kept people waiting for my beta-reading feedback. And I know they’re antsy. And I have no ill-intensions in making them wait. I’m just busy. I genuinely care about them and their work. I get to it as fast as I can. If you look at it from the flip side, it takes a lot of the angst out of it.

      Thanks for enhancing the conversation!

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      • says

        I knew antsy was misspelled…just couldn’t figure it out (I tried ancy), so thought maybe it was slang. And a dictionary? Ha! Who looks in those? Thanks for the gentle reminder.

        Yeah, my making others wait is never ill-intended. Too much on my plate at times.

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  33. says

    Vaughn,

    LOVE this post, especially the idea of a beta swap. What a great way for a writer to give back to the community and to give a little distance between himself or herself and the ever-pressing Wait.

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    • says

      I’ve done several beta-reads in the past few months, and I’m always amazed at how much light the process sheds on my own work. Often, as I write the critique, I cringe in the knowledge that the very issues I am addressing need attention in my own work. And fixing them is never easy. Such a tough, and yet rewarding gig we’ve chosen, isn’t it?

      You do so much giving back yourself, Christi. I’ll bet volunteering as you do, with the writing group at the senior center, would help a lot of WUers to relieve their waiting angst. Just saying.

      Thanks for your kind words, and for all you do, my friend!

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  34. says

    Jeesh, I’m late to seeing this, but looks like you had a big party anyway. :) So glad, V. You’re a natural at pulling together community, though I’ll note you also apply those natural abilities with great vigor.

    It’s been a while since I’ve waited for anything significant, and even then I knew it would be a matter of weeks. But I recall using cooking, walking, reading, and writing to fill the void. It had to be short-term writing, though. A poem, a blog post, some flash fiction. I imagine if I faced a wait of months, I’d have to begin something longer, regardless.

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    • says

      Thanks, Boss – here’s hoping my vigor and any ability I might have gained will actually serve my writing. Still waiting for that, too. ;-)

      Cooking is one of my go-to distractors, too. And I knew we shared a love of walking. Here’s hoping your all your waits will be angst-free.

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  35. Thea says

    I appreciate your love of music. So rock on, my brother, while you’re waiting. (And yes, Tom Petty is my go to)

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