Friday, January 17, 2014

Writer's 12-step Program to Surviving the Wait

According to a recent article in the LA Times, we spend an average of five years of our lives waiting for something to happen. So, you’d think I could play it cool while I waited the six to eight weeks for a response on my new endeavor--my young adult manuscript that was requested by an agent at a conference.

Yeah, right.

I'm like a junkie without an addiction. My YA manuscript--the one I've been laboring on for eons, the one that'll transition me from paranormal romance only to the exciting world of Young Adult--has been gussied up and shipped into the cold, cruel world of possible rejection. And I miss her!

I'm left wringing my keyboard-weary hands, fretting over what the agent will think. Did my three months of polishing it up waste my window of opportunity with the agent? At the conference, the agent warned me that a Young Adult Paranormal Romance was a saturated market and for her to sign me, she'd have to see something amazing. Did I send something that would rock her world...or make her yawn?

The stress is getting to me, so I decided I needed a coping strategy: a 12-step program to alleviate my compulsive need to check the agent’s blog, or count calendar days ase I await her response.

Here's my Writer’s 12-step Program to Surviving the wait:

Step 1: Admit we are powerless over the wait—that our lives must continue. As with the original 12-step program, it’s the first step that’s the hardest.

Step 2: Believe in the power of the pen to restore us to sanity. In other words, keep calm and write on. Nothing makes the waiting faster—and more productive—than working on your next novel. Treasure this forced creativity, because if your manuscript is accepted, you’ll be spending much of your future in edits, galleys and the never-ending marketing of your book.

Step 3: Love on your loved ones. If you’re anything like I am, the closer I am to deadline, the crankier I become. After I’ve sent the manuscript off, I glutted myself on family outings, and home-cooked meals.

Step 4:  Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of your writing business. I took a close look at my social media and the promotion side of my business and I can see there's work to be done. If you don’t have a website, now’s the time to create one. If you do, now’s the time to update it. Do you have an author Facebook page/Twitter page/Goodreads account/Pinterest site? Create or update them; you’ll be thankful later that you did!

Step 5: Admit to other writers how you’re feeling. Email or call another writing friend who’s in the same boat. Kibitz about your worries; tell her what step you’re on in the 12-step process.

I'm the one in the black gloves
looking fierce! ;)
Step 6: Eliminate the defects of character you’ve acquired while deep in the throes of manuscript-readiness. Exercise to remove those extra inches of flab, and make an appointment to deal with the shaggy-hippie look you’re sporting from neglecting yourself in favor of your book.

Step 7: After achieving your goal, it’s natural to feel let down now that it’s over. So, grab your calendar, and plan out the baby steps you’ll take to write your next novel.

Step 8: Make a list of the people you’ve ignored while you’ve been holed up in your writing space, and make amends to them all.

Step 9: Feed your muse. Spend time pursuing the other passions you neglected as you readied your manuscript for the gimlet eye of judgment. Whether it’s gardening, scrapbooking or catching up on all those episodes of “Glee” you missed, feed your muse something other than words for a while.

Step 10: Get going…on the marketing! While your book is fresh in your mind, use this waiting time to build your marketing machine:  do your back cover blurb, create a book trailer, and pull out teaser quotes you can post to Facebook/Twitter once it's accepted.

Step 11: Pay it Forward. Nothing makes the waiting less painful than taking this mini-break to help another writer with her project. Offer to critique, beta read, whatever your expertise is—now is the time to help while you have the time!

Step 12: Know this—you can survive the wait. You will hear about your book. And, regardless of the submission’s result, you will persevere and grow stronger from the experience.

Stay strong, my writing friends. 

I will triumph over the wait. One day at a time.

Happily My Ever After,

P.S. Want help with your query letter so you can join me in the 'waiting mode'? Click here for the basics on Anatomy of a Query Letter, and here to see the Top 10 Do's and Don'ts for your Query Letter!

P.P.S. Curious to see what happens to my YA submission? Subscribe to my blog at the right so you don't miss a thing!


  1. Great advice, Dylan! The waiting can be brutal, but you've given us some steps to also make it fruitful.