"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Don't Hate the Wait! 6 Timely Tips for Today's Writer


“Your call is very important to us. Please continue to hold. The next representative will be with you shortly.”
“Your call is very important to us. Please continue to hold. The next representative will be with you shortly.”
“Your call is very important to us. Please continue to hold. The next representative will be with you shortly.”

I listened to this repeated message for over an hour the other day, as I waited to be connected with a “live” person regarding my account. I didn’t dare dash to the washroom or go to the kitchen to retrieve a glass of water, for fear that if I made the wrong move, I would be disconnected and have to start the whole grueling process all over again.

Instead, I found myself being held “captive” for more than 3600 seconds. Time I could never recover; which really grinded on my nerves.
If I had a dollar for every hour I have waited to be helped, heard, responded to, or updated, I’d be rich as dark chocolate.

Waiting can be so frustrating. It takes time away from our productivity, makes us anxious, and keeps us in a “pending stage” where we can’t move forward or make important decisions for day-to-day tasks.

A similar situation exists in writing and the creative process. You know the script.
You meticulously craft a query letter. You send it off to an editor. You wait for her to get back to you. You wait for the green light to submit your completed piece. Then you wait for an acceptance. Then you wait to be published. Then you wait to be paid.

Though I love the creative life, I hate the wait! Always have.
In fact, at the time of this writing, I have nearly a dozen pitches, guest post requests, and completed articles I am waiting to hear something, anything on.

Don’t get me wrong: I have worked with some really cool editors that in the past have been very responsive and “rendered a verdict” in a few days. But they seem to be more the exception than the rule.
I must admit, as I continue to embark upon this journey though, I have gotten a bit better. And you can too.

Here are some practices and principles to consider as you play the “Waiting Game” as a freelancer:

1. Step away from the computer!

That’s right. Instead of checking your emails frantically, fix your mind on something else. Exercise. Garden. Take a bubble bath. Sew. As for me? I relax through baking and cooking. And the positive thing here, is that it often “feeds” my mind with other creative ideas and potential projects. Remember, “A watched pot never boils.”

2. Decorate your work space.

Creativity can manifest itself in different forms. Decorating is one of them. Why not spice up your space with some bright, new wall art? Or improve the aesthetics and air quality through potted plants? Or perhaps update your look with some attractive toss pillows? The possibilities are endless. Here’s a great book that I found helpful:

3. Blog hop!

Visit other popular blogs to find out what’s going on…with your friends, with your competition, with blogs in your hometown area. The more you know, the more you’ll grow.

4. Follow-up.

Sometimes we have to be pro-active here. Meaning, that if a “reasonable” amount of time has transpired without hearing anything on the status of a submission, we can lessen our pain by simply writing to the editor of the targeted publication to ensure they’ve received the work. Strange stuff can sometimes happen, folks. Emails get lost or embedded in “spam folders” that never get opened. Files get accidentally erased. And well… shift happens!
For example, I sent something out to an editor who had not replied to my submission in five months, after accepting my original query. The problem? She never received the final version I submitted. So I had to resend it. It’s important to remember that in following up, one needs to be respectful and professional in the approach. Never stalk.

5. Consider that “Patience is a virtue.”
Waiting can help develop us in many ways. It can help us to appreciate delayed gratification. It can help us to tap into prayer and meditation. It can help us to learn to shift gears and redirect our priorities, as needed.

6. Get more bang for your buck by sending out simultaneous submissions.

This increases your odds of acceptance and can decrease the time it takes for a piece to ultimately be published. Unless a market specifically forbids it, it is totally ethical. Just make sure to keep publications posted if the piece is purchased, so that it can be removed from their submissions files.
In the meantime and in between time, you never need to wait to be awesome!
"Carpe diem!"
Your turn.
Agree or disagree?
How about you? How do you deal with the "wait" of freelancing?


  1. "Do something while you wait," is a favorite theme of mine. Your points are all excellent and I think you know I'm often in the kitchen while I'm waiting. Or writing an essay - my favorite kind of writing. It's so true shift happens (LOL) but we don't have to let it muck up our shoes -er - writing. Great post, Jen.

  2. Thanks so much, Sue. The kitchen can indeed provide comfort. :-) Did you ever try that Pineapple Salsa recipe?

  3. It's good to know we can still be productive during the waiting process, even if it is simply taking a break to rest and recharge. All the little pieces add up to the big picture, don't they? Thanks for the great tips and advice!

    1. Appreciate the feedback, Karen. Wishing you a wonderful and "productive" September. :-)