By Teresa Tysinger
I would argue that all authors are familiar with waiting. With no regard to genre, experience, position in life, or level of discipline, every author waits. We wait on inspiration to strike, for more time at the keyboard, or for an interested editor’s response. We wait on edits, reviews, sales reports, and website analytics.
No matter the reason for waiting, it’s what we do while we wait that matters most. And, maybe surprising to some, the best answer is not always “write more.”
I am a not-yet-published author and a self-proclaimed pantster who gets easily distracted. Necessity has taught me that one cannot simply idle while waiting. Idling wastes precious fuel that could be better used moving forward. Though we may only circle the block while we wait, there are things to be seen in the neighborhood, people to meet on the path.
Here are five activities to keep you moving forward as an author in waiting.
It never fails. When I read, I keep my mind lubricated with the creativity of others. I prefer to read within my genre, but don’t set limitations. I once read a suspense novel that taught me a great deal about using subtlety as a tool to build tension. A writer who doesn’t read in her spare time is like a doctor who doesn’t practice healthy living.
My favorite thing to do while waiting on inspiration to strike is to critique other’s writing. Have you ever heard the phrase “you learn most by teaching”? Offering suggestions for improvement–and explaining my reasons for those suggestions — sharpens my awareness of how and when my own writing can improve. In seasons when you have little to submit to your partners, give back and focus on their works-in-progress. Everyone wins.
I subscribe to countless blogs that offer wisdom on writing craft, platform building, industry news, and more. I’d say three quarters of those emails end up in a “To Be Read” folder. If you’re in a period of waiting, pull out your TBR file and learn something. Thumb to that chapter marked by an old receipt in your copy of [insert title of your favorite writing craft book] and study.
4. Hunt and Gather.
Ideas come from everywhere. An overheard conversation in the coffee shop, a clever billboard on the side of the highway, a wildly frightening dream, or the painful emotion witnessed on a stranger’s face. Often when we’re waiting, our focus is placed inward on the thing/person/answer for which we wait. Be open to ideas at all times. Be the hunter ready to act with fierce energy on what may be the only opportunity of the day for sustenance. Don’t miss the chance to feed the creative beast and, when able, gather and stockpile for the cold winters of writer’s block.
A few weeks ago, Natalie Monk wrote a post on here about overcoming writer’s guilt. I love her tip to relax. Waiting often brings along its sidekick Worry. While waiting on inspiration, we worry none will come. While waiting on an editor’s response, we worry the answer is “no.” When sales reports loom, we worry the numbers will miss goals. Playing revokes Worry’s invitation to the party and replaces it with fun-loving, mellow Relaxation. Take a long walk in the park, go to lunch with a friend, or literally play–a game, a song, etc.
Be encouraged, friends. If you’re an author in waiting, you are in good company. Let’s keep moving forward!
What are some other ways you keep moving forward during a season of waiting?
Teresa Tysinger writes charming southern romance inspired by grace. When not writing, she works as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church. She loves connecting with readers and authors, coffee, and stories with happy endings. Teresa blogs about writing and faith at her website: http://teresatysinger.com.