Writing may be the business of words, but it is also the business of waiting. Whether you are crafting your first manuscript or polishing your third best-seller, there’s some purgatory involved. You wait for your beta readers to get back to you. You wait for an agent to discover your manuscript. You wait for blurbs from other writers. You wait for an editor to decide whether to publish you. You wait to see what changes will be required. You wait, you wait, and then you wait some more.
If you are like me, all this waiting creates some serious anxiety. It’s tempting to moan to my husband, kids, and friends, and I definitely do that at times. It’s also tempting to hang out on the couch, watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, binging on chocolate and popcorn and spiraling into a ‘they love it!/they hate it!’ cycle. But the waiting stage can go on for weeks or months, and that’s an awful lot of moaning and popcorn. Here are a few more productive ways I’ve found to spend the time.
Take a break. I’ve written about this before. My writing mind needs a chance to rest and recover, a chance to hum quietly in the background, making connections and discovering new material and ideas without being forced to commit them to paper. That way, when I do return to writing, I have a fresh well from which to draw.
FYI: By taking a break I don’t just mean avoid starting new work. Don’t mess with your current manuscript either. Opening the file, reading a few lines, closing it in elation or horror — “It’s so good! I’m so glad I sent it!” “It’s awful! What was I thinking?” — that way lies madness. You’ve either made it as good as it can be before other eyes see it, or you haven’t. Either way, leave it alone for now. [Read more…]