Yesterday, I mailed a submission of my latest completed book to Tor, one of the biggest science fiction and fantasy publishers who has produced many books and showcased many authors that I have loved over the years. My fingers are crossed for a favorable response, but it’s a tough business. Plus, according to their website, it may not be until October before I hear from them. That’s a long time to wait and fret.
So what is a writer to do with herself while trying not to let the anxiety nip away at her sanity? Better yet, what should she do to decrease the anxiety? Here are some of the best techniques I’ve found:
1. FORGET ABOUT THE SUBMISSION: Yes, you read that right. As much as possible, shove it out of your mind. Certainly write down when you sent the submission or query off and when you should supposed to receive a response, but otherwise, don’t expend neurons on it. It’s a waste of energy and will only heighten stress.
2. START YOUR NEXT PROJECT: Or, perhaps, a small series of projects. Not only is this wise as a writer, but it helps keep the stress of waiting at bay by offering distraction. What if your first project is rejected? Unfortunately in this business, that’s much more likely than receiving a request for the full book or a contract offer. You need something to send off next. You need to improve your writing skill through practice. You need to keep up the habit of writing. Jumping straight into a new project helps with every single one of those.
3. FRET IN COMMUNITY: Get some writing friends to cheer you up, sympathize, and cheer you on. Writers are familiar with rejection and waiting. Commiserating soothes the worst of it. It’s easier to withstand the anxiety and emotional blows as a group.
4. READ: Fill your mind and heart with stories. Reading is essential training for writing, so don’t look at it as avoiding working on your craft. Unless, of course, that is in fact what you’re using it for. Reading will draw your attention away from the emotional knots caused by waiting and worrying.
5. PLAN AHEAD: Have a list of places to send your manuscript to in the event you receive a rejection. If you don’t need them in the end, great. However, if you do get that rejection, your prospects look far less bleak with a game plan already in place for the next round of submissions. Know where you’re going next so you don’t get bogged down in emotional turmoil.