Writing When You're Waiting

How to Keep Busy and Keep Writing in the Pipeline

Hello, writers. Are you waiting for good news? Waiting to see your relatives again? Waiting for warm weather? Waiting for that acceptance, that rejection, from a literary magazine, an agent, editor?

The writing life involves a great deal of waiting. It seems like I’m always in a state of limbo, with writing projects I care about sitting on the desks of people I respect and admire, waiting to hear what they think of my work. The only remedy I’ve found for such states of waiting is to keep living and keep writing. We need to have new projects and new ideas to feel excited about, so that by the time that story, that novel, that application reaches its end, you won’t even mind all that much if the answer is a no; you’ll already be on to something new.

On the Writerly Bites Podcast, I’ve been talking with some great writers to get their tips, including the songwriter Iva, with more interviews coming soon. I’ve talked about aspects of craft, such as sketching your lean layer and the importance of not punching down. And I’ve talked about creativity and productivity, in my episode about how self-doubt doesn't create anything.

It was my mother, a writer herself, who told me to always, always have something in the pipeline. Story and novel acceptances take a long time, so why not be ready for your next success, and insulated against your next failure? Consider submitting work as part of your job as a writer. Use one day a month to research literary magazines, polish up and send out stories, or research and apply for grants and fellowships.

There’s a saying in writing that you’re only as good as the last thing you’ve written. So write something new, using all your tools and powers, all the tips you’ve picked up along the way. Write in a way that thrills and frightens you.

What I’m Reading

Still working on The Tale of Genji, which I’m slowly working through and commenting on at #yearofgenji on Twitter and Instagram.

Writing News

I have new short stories forthcoming in a few literary magazines that I’m very excited about. Stay tuned!

Your Bonus Writing Tip

Allow an element of randomness to get you writing this week. Pull three words at random out of the dictionary; these three words will govern the theme or focus or imagery of the next scene in your story or novel.