Friday, May 1, 2009

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Tom Petty was right. Waiting is the hardest part. No, Tom Petty wasn't singing about the waiting that writers endure every day. His song was about a woman (although, I'll admit, they lyrics don't altogether make sense to me). But I'm here to tell you, writers win the waiting game, hands down.

Face it: Writers have it rough.

I can't think of any other profession that requires hours and hours AND HOURS of work with NO GUARANTEE of getting paid for it. (OK, except maybe parenting)

We pour our hearts and souls into our manuscript. We sacrifice sleep (for those middle-of-the-night brainstorms), clean clothes (because the laundry just doesn't always get done), and our family's health (fast food to the rescue through power writing surges).

And for what? The POSSIBILITY that we'll get a paycheck. Someday.

I hereby declare that writers are at the very bottom of the payment bucket. As in, scrape-the-bottom, bottom. I'm thinking that when all is said and done, $1 per hour is stretching it.

Even magazine articles are written on spec. You write the article first. You send it to the publisher. THEN they decide if they like it enough to pay you for it.

But, alas, writers don't write for the money. We write because we have to. If we don't, we might just explode into a blob of a bazillion jumbled words. And on a personal note, it would not make my clean-freak husband very happy to have to clean up that mess.

So, to keep my husband happy and my carpet blob-free, I write.

And I wait. And wait. And keep on waiting for that paycheck to roll in.

So what can we do to make the waiting a little less painful? Here are a few tips:
  • Remind yourself why you write. If it's for the money, then yes, you'll get easily frustrated. But if it's because you love it, or because you want to glorify God with your talents (which we should all want, by the way), or because it's just plain fun, the wait won't seem that bad.
  • Refocus. You've written a manuscript or an article and you've sent it off to the publisher. Now turn your attention to something else. Keep writing! By focusing on other work, you won't have time to think about how long it's taking to hear back from the editor of that one, particular publication. When you finally do get an email or a letter in the mail, you'll say, "Wow! That was fast!"
  • Take a break. If you find yourself feeling like your work is constantly in vain, maybe it's time to rest your brain. Take a vacation, work on something completely unrelated to writing - catch up on that scrapbook, spend time with your family, or take up knitting. Something to take your mind off of the waiting and keep yourself from rocking in the corner.
  • Express Yourself. Feed your need to write in a different way. Forget about work and get to know yourself a little better. Step away from the stimulation of the computer and take your thoughts, emotions, and frustrations to a journal - yes, that means you'll have to write by hand (gasp!). You'll be amazed at how much more settled you'll feel after expressing yourself, even when nobody except you will ever read it.
  • Take it to God. Tell God your frustrations - He can take it. Pray for more patience as you wait for your work to be published or to hear back from an editor you've been waiting on for months. A couple of things happen when we pray: 1. God answers us. From the moment you pray, God gets to work. The answer may not always be what we want to hear, but it will always be the right answer for us. 2, Our hearts are changed. Maybe you've put off praying for patience because you KNOW God will put a million things in your life to "test" you in this area. But even if this does happen, they won't feel as frustrating because your PATIENCE will be increased! PRAY! It really does work!

So who's waiting with me? Waiting for their novel to be accepted. Waiting for an article to be published. Waiting for time to actually spend writing. Waiting to hear back from an editor.

Just remember, writers may make the least amount of money per hour but seeing our work in print and knowing our words have touched someone and have glorified God, is priceless.

And well worth the wait!


Joanne Sher said...

ALL I gotta say, dear Lynda, is AMEN!! Soo much waiting - but SO worth the wait!

Dara said...

Thanks for such an wonderful post!

sarah said...

I needed to read this. thank you. Sarah

Suzanne said...

I am waiting too and it's definately harder than writing. I submitted my full manuscript to a small publisher 5 weeks ago and I can hardly stand the wait. Even waiting to hear back about my entry in the Genesis contest is hard. (sigh)

Thanks for this article. It's good to hear someone else express the same feelings I've been having and remind me of how to deal with the waiting.

Marc said...

I hear you, Lynda. I've got a novel doing the rounds with the agents and I've just finished another manuscript, and the waiting is excrutiating. I feel like it's never going to happen (most of the time - sometimes I have flashes of optimism).

It's not just the waiting for agent responses, it's the period between 1st draft and 2nd draft that kills me too. I have started a blog which aleviates the tedium somewhat.

Glad I'm not the only one feeling like this though!