Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Congrats on submitting your manuscript! But the euphoria of finally sending your work to an agent or editor is quickly replaced by the anxiety over its fate. You poured a lot of hours and skipped a lot of TV to finish it, and some faraway gatekeeper could render that effort moot with a single email—or they could accept it and provide you with the validation and recognition you surely deserve. You thought writing was tough? Now you get to live with the agony of ambiguity one second at a time for the next 120 days or so.
You don’t have to live like this. A watched pot never boils, and a fixated-upon manuscript submission never gets a response. I came up with that ultra-catchy saying while waiting to hear back from an editor about a story. I felt so good about putting my nervous energy to good use that it barely stung when the editor sent me a form rejection letter. You too can experience this edifying feeling by employing these handy suggestions on how to spend your time when waiting for a publication decision.
- Take a break. Give yourself permission to do nothing for a while. Relax, you’ve earned it!
- Take a shower. I’m not naming names, but some of you were playing fast and loose with personal hygiene while you finished that book.
- Have a panic attack.
- Cherish your newfound freedom. For a few sweet weeks, you’re rid of the book or story that has been causing you so much heartache. And if it gets accepted, you’ll never have to work on that story again! Except for the edits your editor sends you. Have fun!
- Remind yourself of your victories. Think of the other things you’ve gotten published before. If this is your first work you’ve submitted or you haven’t sipped the sweet nectar of an acceptance letter, focus on the fact that just finishing your work and getting it out there is a small victory. I know that feels like I’m setting a low bar, but…uh…I don’t know a tactful way to finish that sentence.
- Reread your manuscript. The easiest way to spot errors in your work is read it immediately after hitting “send.” Typos, mixed metaphors, inexplicably changed character names; you’ll find all of these mistakes and more at the very moment it’s too late to fix them. You’ll want to kill yourself and have them bury you in one of your story’s huge plot holes, but don’t despair. Wait for your rejection, make the necessary fixes, then send it to another market. Such a catastrophe couldn’t happen more than once, right? Right?
- Have a panic attack.
- Speak the rites. This is a great time to enact the arcane ritual passed down through your family for generations. It’s natural to feel a little jittery the first time, just power through it. Hey, do you want to get punished or don’t you?
- Build your brand . Work on your website. Start a newsletter. Improve your social media presence . Try blogging again. The great thing about writing is that, in addition to the writing itself, there are always a million little jobs that need doing, again and again, until you die.
Develop a new hobby. It’s not healthy to spend all your time on your writing career. Stimulate your brain with new, enriching activities. Exercise. Take a pottery class. Develop a drinking problem. Catalog all the slights and insults others have thrown your way. Nurse some grudges. You won’t believe how recharged your mind will feel if you fill it with spite.
- Start on that next project. You know the one—the exciting mystery romance that you couldn’t stop thinking about when you were slogging to the finish line of your last book. Now that you’re free to work on it, though, it seems like work, doesn’t it? This cycle of having your fantasies shrivel up under the harsh sunlight of reality will repeat itself again and again until you die.
- Network. Having your head down in your manuscript is great for meeting deadlines, but may cause you to neglect your human relationships. Meet up with your friends and fellow writers for dinner and drinks. Catch up on your petty social media squabbles. If you’re feeling frisky, cultivate a nemesis and start a literary feud .
- Get your hopes up. Give yourself an advance on your advance and splurge a little. You can pay yourself back when the checks start rolling in. Start planning your “I sold my book!” party. Send out invitations and everything. You’re not being irresponsible, you’re betting on yourself, so don’t worry that the venue’s security deposit is nonrefundable.
- Have a panic attack.
How do you like to spend your time when you’re waiting to hear about a submission? Share your ideas in the comments!
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