Motivating myself while waiting to hear...

A couple of months ago, I sent a submission to a publisher who had been recommended by an agent (not my agent, but it seemed a good and appropriate lead). I’ve checked with the publisher a couple of times, and apparently the submission is making its way through various departments and meetings.

What I find is that while I am waiting, I just cannot galvanise myself to continue - and there’s plenty to continue with. I’m worried that (a) they’ll reject it completely and then it’s a waste of time, or (b) they’ll ask for big changes so anything I do now is a waste of time.

I know the sensible thing is to carry on as though nothing is happening, and deal with their response when it arrives. But what can I tell myself to get myself into gear - saying that it’s “sensible” just isn’t working (and nor am I).

Live with it. This comes with the profession. Take it as part of it all.
That’s what I tell myself. I am waiting too.
I watched a movie in the middle of the day just to kill time until the phone rings.


If vic-k were here he would advocate taking up a “new to you” bad habit. Have you tried excessive drinking? That is his favorite.

Writers write.

Start your next project.

Keep writing.

Saying… but I am an ARTISTE and am totally enraptured of this project and must see it through FIRST… makes you an ARTISTE not a writer.

Take a break… watch a movie… plant a garden… when you get bored… start your next project.

This is how it is going to be FOREVER… cue spooky music… if you are going to be a writer.

Writing itself is the only thing that cures the “waiting-by-the-phone syndrome”. (This also works for dating by the way!!)


An author friend of mine (not to drop names, but Mort Castle is not a “big” enough name to sound like I’m schmoozing) tells his students that at that point in their process, the magic number is 11.

That is, have 11 submissions out of various sorts (novels, non-fiction, short stories, articles) out at any given time and you won’t be sitting around doing nothing but chewing on recycled thoughts and waiting.

The unspoken trick to this is, of course, having 11 things to be able to submit at any given time.

I myself have sent out novel chapters to a few publishers and agents (have a couple of responses), and while waiting, I’m back to keeping up my short story submissions (one appearing in a magazine in June, two slated to hear back on by the end of May, deadline for another June 15, two rejections last week).

The most I’ve had out at once is 9. Not quite the magic number, but heck, that’s an arbitrary thing used to set some sort of perspective.

It’s maddening, but when I get frustrated at something like that, I either go back and read personal rejections (especially one that is particularly venomous and angry at the story I submitted—gives me delightfully sick pleasure to know I offended an editor with my tale), or back off from writing entirely for a few days. This latter is much more difficult to do, since I end up writing something on any given day. But I keep my distance from certain stories…

In your position, a distraction seems like it would most definitely help.

It’s unlikely I’ve ever, at one time, had eleven pieces on hand, all of which deserved to be out looking for a home. (I count a multiple submission as a single item.) Perhaps if I didn’t treat a rejection as proof that the story (or whatever) needed to be re-thought and re-written…

In general, I just keep on writing. I used to keep a bulletin board over the desk, with cards tracking every submission. That only seemed to raise the frustration level.

When things get really bad – as inevitably they do – I leave the desk, leave the office, leave the house, even leave town, go as far as necessary to disconnect physically from the problem. Generally, a walk around the block gets enough oxygen into the brain to fuel another attempt.

Last resort: write a letter to the editor of one of the local papers. They’re generally happy to print anything which is grammatically sound and has a clear point of view.


Looks like I can never use that technique.

In my experience, most rejections are due to editor’s preferences, mood at time of reading, type of story it is, or just how it fits with the market you’ve submitted to.

If a story is rejected six or seven times in a row, then maybe consider re-writing it.

Revising it after each rejection is likely to destroy the story.

One tale of mine had a form rejection upon first submission. Sent out again the same day I had a lengthy personal rejection citing a number of unusual qualities the piece had, but it strayed from the genre handled by that magazine. Third submission without altering it at all resulted in a paid acceptance. That editor requested three minor changes (she didn’t like one description, and the last line didn’t strike her as powerful as it could be); I made a fourth that I spotted in the gallery stage of things.

If I’d re-written it from the first rejection, I might have eliminated the beauty that was there, and never had the story published.

To keep writing is good. If looking at the tracked submissions is frustrating, try tracking them on Duotrope or a similar site. Or file away the index cards so they aren’t staring at you. Or keep a note of a good personal rejection.

Or a particularly bad one serves as inspiration for me: “The dialect you’ve chosen to write this in is so thick, that it is unreadable. You seem to understand and enjoy that it’s an impediment to your prospective readers. Best of luck placing this elsewhere. A story like this probably shouldn’t get published…” This came from an editor who hated my story so much he took the time to write such a response. Another editor called it “one of the most daring and sick tales I’ve read in fifteen years. I wish it fit my magazine.” And went on to suggest another publisher to send it to.

My two cents is: don’t rewrite after a rejection. Rewrite after a few rejections OR if an editor is offering payment for a story on condition of re-write. Then you have to decide if the requested rewrites are something you can live with. After all, it’s your name on the story byline.

Hope that didn’t sound too much like a soap box rant. Just something I feel strongly about. :slight_smile: