The best part of being a writer, is writing. The hardest part, for me at least, is waiting. Waiting for the next idea to form, waiting for agents to get back to you, waiting for edits, hopefully at some point waiting for publishers, and then for the wildly successful reviews to come flooding in.
Maybe I’ve been in therapy too long, but I have come to term the following helpful hints ‘coping devices’. These were hugely necessary for me each time I sent to Agent A, and especially when I was waiting after the second draft, but it’s good to have some throughout the writing process.
1) The first, and most important one if you’re waiting after finishing a book, is start your next project. I’m assuming you’re hoping this ms is the first of many, and certainly agents are far more likely to take you on if you see writing as a career, not as ending with single publication. So you can never really start the next story soon enough. Unless you are burnt out, in which case skip to tip two. Just after sending out The Cartographer’s Daughter I wrote the first chapter of my next project, but wasn’t really feeling it. So I went back to reading, and writing poetry.
2) R&R. This means different things to different people. It could be a long bath/bed time half hour early/a book instead of TV (or vice versa). For my dad and other people with instincts for self-preservation, it’s going for a long run. For me, it’s spending the day in bed watching Gray’s Anatomy, with a cat curled up next to my feet. No judgements here (except maybe from the cat).
3) Talk to your friends. Drink/dance with your friends. Watch Twin Peaks/Girls/Game of Thrones marathons with your friends. Sarvat, Tom and Daisy (hereafter STD mwahaha) live with me and so get the brunt of my incessant ‘what if’ scenarios, and I’m lucky because they are going through the same sort of thing. It’s also good to stop talking about it sometimes and, oh I don’t know, maybe go drinking at three in the afternoon (you may have gathered I’m still a student).
4) Get out of the house. Also known as getting out of your head. Go for a walk, work in a cafe for a bit, go buy yourself a book (I give you permission).
5) I struggle with anxiety, and often introducing a bit of humour into the situation helps. This is where Tom, boyfriend and live-in comic relief, comes in. Just after I sent my second round of submissions (full story here), I was stressing out A LOT. I couldn’t sleep, it was all I could think about. I made a table with all the agents I had sent the manuscript to, with columns ready for ‘responses’ and ‘results’. It looked a little like this:
Agency / Agent Submitted Date of response Outcome
T saw it and decided that a scary table was the last thing I need to be looking at. So he made some edits, and this is what we ended up with:
Gatekeepers Soul delivered Date of destiny Poop or not poop?
It’s easy to take yourself too seriously. Don’t.
6) Finally – and this is something I still need to work on – get some perspective. Realise that writing this story is your choice (or maybe it chose you, lottery finger style), and as such you have control over it. What’s more, it’s fun. Not easy, and it’s important to know when to write through the blocks, and when to turn to duvet and drink. But when it’s working, writing feels vital, invigorating and fun. Enjoy your good writing days, because unfortunately/thankfully, the rest is out of your control.