“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” — Carl Sagan
If only there was an app to expedite the process.
During one of my first writers’ conferences, a featured speaker said it took him ten years of writing daily to complete his first novel. Some days he sat for hours, only to produce a single sentence. Another author shared that after each agent query she sent, she’d awaited a response before submitting to another.
AGH!!!!!! Just hearing the scenarios was enough to make me want to pull my hair out or run sprints. I wasn’t yet done with my first novel, and it took strength not to contact every agent in the Writer’s Market—twice. (Emails get missed, you know.) Of the virtues I was born with patience, isn’t one of them.
All creative artists face the waiting game. We hear good news, then wait until it comes into fruition, hoping it won’t dissipate in the meantime. We submit for great opportunities, then wait to learn if we’ve landed them. It can take days, weeks or months for responses from agents, publishers and reviewers. And sometimes we can’t share awesome news bubbling up inside us until negotiations have been signed and sealed. Not easy! But that doesn’t mean we have to suffer.
5 Ways to Make the Meantime Meaningful:
1. Create. Nothing makes time fly, or have more value, than submerging ourselves in creative work we enjoy. By the time the goofy old watch-pot boils, we can have other works on-deck. If you don’t have another project at the ready, come up with something new.
2. Distract. Poor Richard (aka Benjamin Franklin) knew that pots of water boil, whether one watches the brew or not. His point was simply that time seems longer when we sit around, observing time passage. Watching too long may prompt us to pass out or give up from sheer boredom, making ‘never’ inevitable. So do something else. Switching gears to focus on other tasks can be the best patience-inducing medicine.
3. Act as though ____ has already happened. Before I moved from Miami to Los Angeles, I acted as though I already lived here, submitting for auditions and networking via the web. Those behaviors, though I was really just impatient and obsessed, helped get the ball rolling immediately once I arrived. If you’re waiting for good news from a publisher, act as though you’re a published author. Network. Produce even better work for your readers. Organize your professional life.
4. Celebrate. Good news and results typically evolve from hard work. You’ve finished your novel, screenplay or portfolio. If you’re a performer with a call-back, you had a great first audition. So, celebrate! The “prize” you’re awaiting isn’t the biggest accomplishment; the work you did to get there is, in my view.
5. Rest. If there’s one thing we creatives tend to lack, it’s rest. If you can, fill some of the meantime with a pedicure, a movie or venture off on a mini road trip. Rest enhances our creativity, productivity and work quality more than most of us realize.
While we can’t make time move faster or force desired outcomes, we can make the meantime a lot nicer. From my experience, it’s well worth the effort.
Are you patient? How do you deal with the meantime? What’s the toughest wait-time you’ve had to endure?