Waiting: One of the Hardest Parts of the Writing Process

Saturday, June 22, 2019
Is she waiting for a bus? Or a rejection letter?

Just as the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' song says, "The waiting is the hardest part..." waiting is one of the hardest parts of the writing process.

As I write this, I'm anticipating two different responses to the short stories I've submitted. One I expect to receive at the end of June and one I will hear about in mid-July. I never realized how incredibly difficult waiting could be and how it could impact other parts of the writing process.

Have you thought of that before? Your ability to wait as a writer can influence other aspects of your writing. It occurred to me the other day when I was thinking about a short story I've sent out. I realized that I was beginning to accept the rejection before I even received it. I was tempted to submit it elsewhere, figuring likely my short story won't place or be published. Sure, many writers simultaneously submit, which is fine, but to submit because I assume I will be rejected isn't quite the same thing.

Waiting assuming rejection can allow my inner critic to discourage me from writing at all. Here's how it can go:

Me to myself: Eh, I've likely not won that short story contest. Think about how many people probably submitted to it. I should just move on and-

Inner critic [interrupting me]: I mean, yeah, why bother even writing at all? Look at how much competition there is out there. You're not cut out for this.

Me to my inner critic: Well that's not really what I mean -

Inner critic [interrupting me]: But really that's the point you're admitting to yourself isn't it? You're not THAT good of a writer to be published so why bother?

Anyone else battling that type of discussion with their inner critic?

So, I've decided to wait with a new approach. I will not assume rejection before I've received it. Sure, rejection is part of the writing process but so is acceptance too. So today if you are waiting to hear if you've placed in a writing competition or waiting to hear from an agent or waiting to hear results of any kind, wait as positively as you can. Of course, false hope is bad, but don't wait assuming you will hear no. Wait hopefully. Wait realistically. Try not to wait negatively.

Why? Your outlook while you wait can turn into your outlook while you write. Your inner critic can turn around and use your negative waiting to influence your writing process in general. Then suddenly you aren't writing at all.

So today, I wait. I wait as emails trickle in that have nothing to do with those writing competitions. I wait as I nervously check Submittable thinking I missed something. I wait as I write the next short story. Yet, today I'm waiting knowing that I am as likely to be published as the next writer. And you are too.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--I think we all battle with that internal critic. Sometimes it helps to picture what that internal critic looks like. (Mine, for example, wears cat-eye glasses, a ratty robe, and smokes like a chimney.) Sometimes if you can picture what they look like, it helps a writer shake off the critic's garbage talk.

I'm keeping my fingers (and my eyes) crossed for you.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Fingers crossed that the news is good.

Pfft. When I'm in the mood, I don't need an inner critic. I'm full on "why do you even bother, you big faker?"

Yep. Me and evil me.

And then I eat something and I'm okay. So I guess it is really me and hangry me.


Nicole Pyles said...

Sioux - Ha, I like that! I'm imagining mine to be your stereotypical 90s valley girl (i.e. Cher from Clueless).

Sue - So true!! Self-doubt can be a terrible thing. Hangry or not :)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Nicole ~ I do the same thing! Think it's a rejection before I even hear anything. But I've also been on the other side of a contest and know how much deliberation and care goes into the decision-making process, and it's good that they're taking a long time to decide. At least you have a date when you know you'll hear from them, and the dates are coming up soon. I think it's even worse when you don't know when you're going to be put out of your misery, and are endlessly waiting and status checking.

I try to forget my piece once it's on submission, and I definitely never ever pull it up and re-read it, because I'm sure to find something I don't like. I also only do a status check every two weeks to see if anything's changed.

I've heard journaling or writing a letter to your inner critic works. Personally, I find that listening to author interviews on podcasts while taking a walk helps ease some of my writing anxiety. Hearing how writers have persisted despite all their rejections gets me pumped.

Like Sue, I also think my inner critic appears when I'm hangry.

I'm so glad you're submitting, and fingers crossed for both contests. :)

Nicole Pyles said...

Angela - Ah, that's so true, not knowing a date is worse!

OH and I never look at a story after submitting either, I think I'd make myself feel worse. After though, sure, but not yet lol. Oh and I love hearing about how authors and writers have risen above rejection and self-doubt, that helps so much!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Lol! I just saw your comment about the 90s Valley Girl. I think mine would be an 80s Valley Girl, like Omigod, gag me with a spoon, totally, as if. Yup. She's my worst nightmare, and I live in the Valley!

Nicole Pyles said...

Hahaha, I could see that! And both of our inner critic's would be chewing gum. MAJOR GUM. Hahaha

Renee Roberson said...

Oh, Nicole, I feel your pain. Got one rejection this week for an essay (although it was a nice one) and I had to go and check how many other submissions I'm waiting to hear from. One anthology (probably July?), and two short stories and an essay that I probably won't hear about until August-October. It's going to be a looong fall! I think it's great that you are aware of what that voice is and have the sense to argue with it! I am trying to picture what my inner critic looks like. I'm envisioning a pragmatic older woman like Harper Lee with a highball glass of whiskey beside her telling that inner voice to go take a hike.

Nicole Pyles said...

@Renee Ha, I love what your inner critic looks like haha. And yessss that wait will feel so long! I think as I get closer to when I know I will hear from them, it gets harder!

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