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:
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.