What to Do While Waiting

Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers truly had it right. The waiting really is the hardest part. Whether you're waiting to hear about a contest or submission or waiting to find out whether a new release is going to sink or swim, what I call Author Purgatory can be excruciating.

Since I'm in that particular spot at the moment, I thought I'd start a list of positive actions to keep from angsting yourself (and your poor, long-suffering family, friends, and/or agent) crazy. After all, if you've chose this career path, you're going to find yourself in limbo often. You might as well learn to handle it in the healthiest way possible.

While waiting you can...

1. Work on an exciting new and different writing project. Whether it's something you eventually hope to sell or what I call a "play project" in another form/genre, a shiny new toy offers an outstanding distraction.

2. Find a different modality to vent your creativity. Garden, draw, sculpt, decorate, play an instrument--most creative types have other talents. I find sketching relaxing. I'm decent at it, but not so good that I have any expectations attached.

3. Move your body. Go for a walk, take up swimming, play a rousing game of fetch with your pooch. Get out into the world and away from your office. It's as important to your mind as it is your body.

4. Fill the well. Experience beauty, whether it's in the form of a beach, ballet, museum, or a cross-country drive, replenish your brain's supply of fresh imagery. It'll do your writing, your body, and your soul a world of good.

5. Help somebody else. Volunteer to judge a contest. Review a fledgling author's book. (She'll fondly remember you forever.) Go to another author's signing. Teach someone something, and you put positive energy into the world.

Do you have any great anti-angsting tips to share? If so, I'd love to hear from you.

This just in! For even more tips, please check out my (rather tongue-in-cheek) follow-up, What NOT to to Do While Waiting.


Kathy Bacus said…
The remedy I find that best keeps me from overdosing on angst is your basic home improvement project--something that provides instant and recognizable results. Whether it be indoors or outdoors, ambitious or modest, the immediate sense of accomplishment, as well as the physical labor required, both tend to get me through the waiting game.

Plus, I get to enjoy the fruits of my labors!
Suzan Harden said…
My secondary creative outlet is cooking, especially trying/creating new recipes.
Great outlets for both of you. I'm not as much on the home improvement, but I also love cooking, Suzan. And eating. :)
Lark Howard said…
I do nothing domestic whatsoever and my "garden" is a bare dirt wasteland, so my distractions are rarely very productive unless I'm writing on a new project.

Usually I catch up on movies and DVDs. Sometimes in this horrible heat, I go to a multiplex and spend most of the day only leaving for lunch and dinner. Or we get a bunch of DVDs--popular, obscure and in between. Since we don't have TV, we even rent full seasons of popular shows and watch them back to back. Hey, when it's summer in Houston, a run in the park is agony not recreation!

I totally get the angst of waiting. I'm in that mode now with the likelihood of months before anything happens. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you to get some great news soon!
I go on baking binges--and freeze the resultant cookies, scones, bread, or whatever. Then, when I'm back into rewrites or whatever and hardly take the time to eat, I have good stuff to grab.
Great idea, Angelica, except for the part where I eat my own baking and gain a ridiculous amount of weight. Could always send it to my son in college. :)
Oh thank God for this post--I am NOT there at the moment (in the opposite mode, actually), but I soon will be. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE Lark's response. "I do nothing domestic whatsoever and my 'garden' is a bare dirt wasteland.'" I'm with you--although my garden is more of a jungle.

I've not often been at the waiting place, because when I wrote short fiction there was always something to move on to, but I was in limbo while waiting for feedback on my dissertation draft. When I turned in the novel to prepare for my defense, I had a few weeks where I literally could not work on it, because it made no sense to do anything else until I heard back from my advisors. I also happened to have a light teaching load that semester, and for ONE WHOLE WEEKEND had no papers to grade and no immediate writing project. I went to the movies. It was strange.
Oh, and the day after my defense, I was so disoriented (that whole time in my life is a story in and of itself) that I found myself auditioning for a part in the Vagina Monologues. I had a blast, stayed and listened to all the other auditions, and walked out thinking I'd been "filled" by another art form, but never expecting I would actually get the part! THAT was interesting!
Jeanna Thornton said…
Great list of remedies, Colleen. What about those of us that are in angst, waiting on ourselves to get it right?

That's me!!! I enjoyed the post!
"What about those of us who are in angst, waiting on ourselves to get it right?"

That's such a profound and important question, Jeanna, and I'm not really sure of the answer, because in many ways, I'm right there with you. But one thing I would say is that there really is no "right" in writing. There's what connects with an audience, and there's what "works," and there's what some people will consider "art." But because writing is such a subjective business, there's always going to be another creative choice you can make.

Hang in there.

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