Today I’m thrilled to have the delightful and talented picture book author and poet, Diana Murray, as my guest. Diana and I have been critique buddies for some time, but only recently did I discover we both struggle with the same writing ailment – waiteritis! Take it away, Diana!
Writers are perpetual waiters. We wait for feedback from critique partners. We wait for agents to reply to our queries. We wait for editors to reply to our agents! And even after we get an offer, there’s still plenty of waiting ahead. There’s the wait for the contract, the PM announcement, the news of an illustrator, revision notes, reviews, and more. Waiting, it seems, is part of our job. But it wasn’t until I became a writer that I realized how painful waiting could be. I wish patience came in a bottle. Wouldn’t that be great? I would take a swig of it each morning, and voila! I could calmly go about my day without that bothersome pins-and-needles feeling.
But since such a thing doesn’t exist (and let’s face it, it would probably have nasty side effects), I’ve decided to come up with some more natural remedies. Here are some writerly things you can do right now to help with a case of waiteritis:
1. Start a New Project
Waiting on a current sub? Ironically, one of the best cures for waiteritis is more writing! You can brainstorm new ideas or continue with another work-in-progress. One methodical way to brainstorm is to make a list of the kinds of stories you already have. This can help you see what’s missing from your repertoire, and thereby jostle some new ideas. You can also rummage through your old files to see if anything re-sparks your interest.
2. Try Something Different
Usually write in prose? Try rhyme. Usually write picture books? Try a chapter book, novelty book, or MG novel. Usually write for older kids? Try a poem/story targeted at babies. Go ahead and push yourself out of your comfort zone. The extra effort it takes will help keep your mind off things, in addition to stretching your skills.
3. Enter a Writing Contest
Yes, it will give you something else to wait on, but that will help weaken the grip of the first thing you were waiting on. Check the rules for the following contests and grants:
Children’s Writer Writing Contests
Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children’s Writing
There is also a list of writing and illustrating contests on the SCBWI discussion board and pitch contests (like #PitchWars) often pop up on Twitter.
4. Participate in an Online Writing Challenge
There are loads of great writing events to choose from. They’ll keep you so busy, you won’t have time for waiteritis! Here are a few: “Picture Book Idea Month” (PiBoIdMo) , “Chapter Book Challenge” (ChaBooCha), “12 Picture Books in 12 Months” (12×12), March Madness Poetry Tournament (#MMPoetry), Susanna’s Short and Sweets.
Even if the event isn’t currently ongoing, you can still review the posts for inspiration.
5. Submit to a Magazine
While waiting on a book submission, you can sub fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a rebus, a finger rhyme, or a craft to a children’s magazine. You can also write an article (or poem) for a publication like the SCBWI Bulletin.
6. Freshen Up
Freshen your web presence by updating your bio and links, reevaluating your navigation, and changing your photo, etc. My own site could definitely use an overhaul.
If you can, get yourself to the library or bookstore. Make a list of your favorite first lines (OK, you got me. I really like lists. In fact, here’s another.) What do they have in common? You can also type out your favorite books and/or make notes about their structure, page by page, or chapter by chapter for longer works. Maybe you’ll even forget to obsessively check your email on your phone (probably not).
9. Write a Blog Post, Of Course!
It’s nice to take a moment to contemplate the craft and it keeps you busy to boot. Thank you, Laura, for giving me this opportunity to keep my waiteritis at bay.
Sorry! I really wanted to round it out at ten. Whoever heard of a “Top Nine” list? But I just couldn’t think of a tenth cure. What do you do to ease the pain of waiting?
Diana Murray is a children’s poet and picture book author. Her books include NED THE KNITTING PIRATE: A SALTY YARN (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan, Winter 2016) and GRIMELDA, THE VERY MESSY WITCH (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, Summer 2016). She is (not very) patiently awaiting the announcement of her latest book deal, along with assorted other things. Visit her at her website or on Twitter.
25 thoughts on “GUEST POST: Ten Cures for Writer’s Waiteritis by Diana Murray”
Terrific post, Diana! I am also afflicted with an extreme case of impatient waiteritis. It definitely helps to work on other projects during the painful wait periods. Am also a huge fan of contests. Congratulations and much success on your upcoming books.
Thanks, Robin! I hope your wait is a short one!
You too, Diana! 🙂
This is a great post! (And so is the other one, which I followed the link back on :)) I especially like the advice to look at the stories you already have and try something else – why haven’t I thought of that? 🙂 And the advice about submitting to magazines… I always say I’m going to do that, but I never follow through! Thanks for making the waiting game a little easier 🙂 (Oh, and I’m so glad you enjoy Short & Sweets! I guess I should do a new one since it’s been awhile :))
Thanks for reading and for going back to my oldie. Funny enough, I first did a list of existing projects while sitting around in a doctor’s waiting room! I didn’t have enough time to write something new, but I just had to do SOMETHING. I hope you do another Short & Sweet soon! Those are so fun and inspiring! 🙂
Oooh! And I just saw the fun fractured fairy tale contest you have up today, so let me post the link to that here: http://goo.gl/wN3biM
Great post, Diana! It is a long waiting game for writers, and even longer for picture book writers. I’ve been spending my own waiting time writing out marketing plans for books and preparing teacher’s resource guides. Building relationships with other writers and with your audience through schools and library visits also helps. I started conducting writing workshops at local schools long before selling a book.
I so look forward to reading all of your books! In the meantime, I’ll try to wait patiently until they come out. 🙂
Thanks, Rebecca! Those sound like wonderful, productive activities. Why didn’t I think of that?? Perhaps because my book releases still seem so far away. But you must be ready to burst with your launch right around the corner. I can’t wait to read THERE WAS A WEE LASSIE…! Luckily, I don’t have to wait too long. 🙂
Great advice for all of us waiteritis sufferers! Now I know the proper name for this condition 🙂
Thanks, Iza! Yes, it’s important to be scientific. 🙂
Nice post–this business of writing requires great patience. 🙂
Thanks, Marcia. Indeed it does. Sometimes I wish I had more of that particular virtue. 🙂
If I’m ever bored, I’ll come back to your lists! Great stuff to occupy our waiting!
Thanks for stopping by, Tina!
Just chiming in here, to thank Diana for sharing these inspiring remedies! I didn’t realize how epidemic waiteritis had become! I couldn’t wait to post Diana’s advice, because, like many writers, I’m perpetually having to wait for something. Happy writing (while we wait) all!
Thanks again, Laura, for the fun (and productive) distraction! It’s nice to have someone to wait with.
I’ve been eating chocolate to deal with the waiting, but it’s not a long term solution. I think I’ve gained two pounds this week:). Thanks for the lower fat options!
Chocolate’s a good cure for a lot of things. =)
Ha ha! Yes, and it’s great for celebrating the good news at the end, too!
Waiteritis! Great word and great advice for battling the symptoms and effects of this condition! Thanks for the list. I have been reading about marketing and, of course, I read, read, read and write, write, write. But there are things on your list that I’m going to add to my list of things to do while I wait. Thanks for a wonderful post!
Thanks so much, Penny! And I will add marketing research to my list. Good one.
I love the Top Nine! #10. Play with your dog while you’re waiting. That’s what Mom does. Sometimes we go to the park or take a ride in the car. I get fun and fresh air and treats and Mom gets fun and fresh air and new ideas!!
Love and licks,
Thank you, Genevieve! And thank you, Cupcake. We might be getting a dog soon so I’ll have to test that out. My kids have already been stocking up on dog treats!
Great list, Diana! I love the idea of going to the library and just looking at first lines.
Sometimes I think a good thing to do to ease the pain of waiting is something completely different – like take a day trip to someplace you’ve never been before.
Thanks, Carrie! You’re right. Sometimes NOT writing is the best answer! Also, I think it was Laura who gave me the idea of comparing lots of first lines.