Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
John Lennon's song, Beautiful Boy, contains lyrics that say, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
I dig this. I think he actually stole the quote from writer Allen Saunders, which is interesting because I can't read this quote without thinking about the writing life. It's not just the busyness of making other plans that can pull your attention away from life, and for a writer, I think this statement is equally true.
I've done my bit to this manuscript. I've written and edited and accepted feedback and made changes and I've read the thing no less than a zillion times.
And then I sent it off.
And now I wait.
One of the best pieces of advice I've picked up along the way is to settle in for the long haul. Cause that's what writing is. It's one heck of a haul. The writing itself can take forever, of course, but if you think you're slow, wait till you see the snail pace of the industry.
When you consider that the books publishers are acquiring RIGHT NOW won't actually be published for a year or, more-likely, eighteen months, you begin to understand just how cog-like this machine is. And writers, well, we're only one cog.
Another piece of advice I've picked up (and clung to, really) is that as writers, we should do at least one thing a day that makes us FEEL like writers. I've warned you all about my memory and I cannot for the life of me remember where I picked this tidbit up, but it is crazy helpful while you're twiddling your thumbs and waiting on another person.
Because it's very easy to let the wait GET YOU. What does that look like exactly? When the wait gets you? A little like this:
You send your manuscript off (to an agent, or editor, or crit partner, whatever) and then what do you do? You cozy up in front of your computer (or iPhone or tablet, whatever), you open your email and you . . . hit the refresh button. And once more. And then maybe you check your FB or your Instagram and then you tab over to your email and you hit refresh again. Because it's entirely possible that your notifications aren't working.And then maybe you have to pee, so you hop up and do that. You're being very mature about this waiting thing, so you leave your electronic device of choice on the arm of the couch while you take care of business, but when you're all washed up, you realize it's been like four whole minutes so you speed walk down the hall (because mama yells when you run in the house) and you . . . wait for it . . . you hit refresh again.Lo and behold you have an email! You know who it's from? Joe's Crab Shack. Free appetizers with your next purchase! Woohoo! You deflate a bit as you drop to the couch and though crab legs start to sound yummy, you tug the blanket over your knees, settle back and . . . you hit refresh again.
This is just one of the ways waiting can get you of course. Some of us get sick to our tummies or crawl into bed for days or binge-watch Sherlock (not entirely a bad thing), but I'm thinking you'll know when the wait has taken on a life of its own.
My advice is to steal my stolen advice up there, shake off the blanket, and DO SOMETHING that makes you feel like a writer. For example, you could:
write a blog post
offer to critique a pal's work
read a book on the craft of writing
read a novel (this is research, writers!)
attend an author's book signing
research writing groups in your area
do some writing practice
brainstorm a new story
start writing that new story
take a writing class (they offer them online as well)
meet up with a writer pal and talk books and the journey and dreams and SHERLOCK
There are oodles of things you can do, but whatever you choose, don't fall into the whole sit-refresh-repeat cycle that can actually devour your gut. Trust me. You'll be much happier if you remember that life happens while you wait. Let the wait remind you that you've accomplished an amazing feat. You've earned the right to give someone else a shot at your work. Don't allow the refresh button to define those days or weeks or months.
Live. Do stuff.
Give yourself something new to write about.
Tell me, what do you do while you wait?