Writing, submitting, waiting

Never pray for patience: God will answer. For writers,there’s a better way to cope.

Writing is not a field for the hurried. The novel you’re writing now, assuming everything goes as smoothly as possible, won’t see the shelves for two to three years. Short stories wait for months. Only news articles move quickly. This is understood.

Every editor and agent has more submissions than open slots and more tasks than time. Again, this is understood. It creates a lag between submission and response. Most writers find waiting difficult, so how do you deal with the tension?

Here’s my reply: if your manuscript is sitting with an editor, and you want to bother the editor with an email, go ahead and bother an editor.

Just make sure you bother a different editor.

Let’s say you’ve submitted a short story to That Awesome Magazine. You get fidgety and start feeling the temptation to follow up. You can either sit on your hands, or else you can look at markets until you discover Terrific Magazine. You then write a new story and submit it to that editor.

Now you get antsy again, so it’s time to bother another editor. Look at the guidelines of Even Better Than The Other Magazines, and submit there. Now you’re “bothering” three editors.

The beauty of this is you get to yield to every single urge to pester those with your submission in their hands, but they will never know it. The more anxious you feel while waiting, the more pieces you’ll kick out into the great beyond.

As a side effect, the more writing you’ve sent out, the less anxiety you’ll feel. The less sad you’ll feel with any rejections. And finally, you’ll have more acceptances than if you focused on worrying rather than writing.

This works in other areas of life, too. If you’re job-hunting, rather than calling back to nudge for a decision, turn that energy toward applying for more jobs.

Therefore: pester editors. Pester them once, and then go pester another.