Monday, November 8, 2010

The Waiting Room: A Writer's Abyss

I recently jumped into the pool of writers who are waiting. We're all waiting for something - contest results, word from an agent, that marvelous call from a publisher, our next contract - the list could go on for eternity.

It struck me that this wait is not much different from waiting in a doctor's office. Between two pregnancies and multiple surgeries, I've spent the last 3-1/2 years of my life in doctors' waiting rooms. So what did I do to pass the time? Many of the same things we can do while we wait in our writing careers.

1) I caught up on emails on my Blackberry. I sometimes took a few minutes to check my friends' Facebook status updates too. In the writing world, we need to stay in touch with friends who understand our crazy world. While our spouses and friends may understand to a certain extent, it's our writing friends who will uplift and encourage from their own waiting experiences.

2) I got some work done. During my pregnancy, I sometimes printed out a chapter that needed editing and took it to the doctor's office to mark up while I waited. The same is true while we wait for an elusive phone call. Why would we just sit there staring at the wall when we can get out our current manuscript and edit? (Unless, of course, those plain gray walls inspire you to open a blank Word document and write a new story.)

3) I read a book. I've found that big purses are great for bringing multiple reading options. We can learn from reading not just non-fiction books about writing, but other fiction books as well, both in our genre and outside our genre. It gives us a chance to not only learn, but to see what works from a reader's perspective and how we can apply it to our own writing.

4) I watched TV. There were days when my brain wouldn't allow me to do anything else but watch the mounted TV in the waiting room that was always tuned to HGTV (bless the person who made that decision). Sometimes while we wait in our writing careers, it's okay to take a break and "veg", to escape somewhere fun with our families, or to let our bodies refill their energy stores. And I've found that those breaks often refill my creativity stores too.

What are you waiting for in your writing career right now? How do you pass the time?

*Photo by Luigi Diamanti /


  1. Waiting for my agent to inform me of a request for my full manuscript. That would totally make my year! In the meantime, I'm working on another ms so I can prove myself as more than a one-trick-pony. Waiting is definitely the hardest part of this business! :-)

  2. LOVE your accompanying photo. . . :-)
    Waiting?? HEY -- once "you" reach a certain age, "you" quit waiting. . . there's too much going on in life besides "your" own little writing life. So when the contracts, speaking invites, sales, etc come, they're delightful surprises. My beloved Dad told me that decades ago. It was true in his life then, and now it's come true in mine. . . :-)

  3. Ah, yes, the waiting room! Right now I'm happy to say I'm waiting to get a copy of my first contract. That's a good kind of waiting, but I'm still not happy - as each day goes by I think, "It's lost in cyber space somewhere and I'll never get it." Or "They changed their mind. They just don't have time to tell me." And my best one yet - "Catherine who??" Yes, I dreamed it all.
    Reality is, the contract IS coming, I just have no patience. Thus, sadly, I have no advice for anyone in the waiting room. Except this. Don't. Ever. Give. Up.

  4. Lynda - Here's hoping for that request soon! :)

    Millie - I love your philosophy! It keeps life in the proper perspective.

    Catherine - Hooray for your first contract and a happy kind of waiting! :)

  5. I used to have a sign hanging in my kitchen that said, "Lord, grant me patience - but HURRY!" I often feel that way. We work hard and expect results to happen at the snap of someone's fingers (or like Samantha on the old television show, Bewitched, who wiggled her nose). But it doesn't work that way in most things in life, and especially in the publishing world. In my own life, this has been an unbelievable year in advancing my writing career...but it's been a long time coming. My first book releases in a few weeks, and the publisher has asked for the second book (it's a long series). So, I'm currently editing. But I'm always doing something connected to writing with those few precious "spare" minutes in my day. And I attended the Indy Christian Writers Conference last weekend and heard Jerry Jenkins speak, and had the opportunity to speak with Sandra Bishop and Steve Laube up-close-and-personal. It was fantastic! Hang in there, and your time of waiting will all come to fruition, my friend!