The Waiting is the Hardest Part

You write a piece. After pouring hours of work into drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading a story or article, you’re ready to submit. You research publications to submit to and draft a cover letter, query letter, or pitch. You take the time to follow their specific submission guidelines, and format your manuscript to that publication’s specifications. Finally, after weeks, or maybe months of work, you click submit, hoping your baby has finally found a home.

And then. You wait.

For a long time. Like, REALLY LONG.

Weeks. Months. I’ve even waited over a year for a response from one publication. I wish I was kidding.

It is so hard! In fact, I’m convinced it might just be the hardest part of working as a writer. There’s a lot of waiting around. I try to have many irons in the fire, and to be continually submitting, so that I don’t dwell on one story that I’ve submitted to one magazine, but it still can get frustrating.

Case in point: I have about a dozen active submissions at the moment, and half of them are on Submittable. What’s fun about Submittable, is you can see when the submission is “In Progress”– meaning the document has been opened, read, and is now being considered.

However, it can sit like that for months. I have pieces that have been “in progress” since late March, and it makes me want to bang my head against the keyboard.

But this is part of the territory! Writers write, and–quite frankly–they wait. A lot. Publication is not a quick process and the more I learn about it, the more patience I need to learn.

But let me offer a piece of friendly advice:

Use this time to work.

A watched Submittable page never boils, so I need to tear my eyes away from the flashing blue buttons, and focus on work. I can’t make editors form decisions any faster, but I can starting writing something new while I wait.

The longer it takes for a response, the better your chance.

At least this is what I tell myself. An immediate rejection means I didn’t even make it past the first readers, which believe me, has happened more than once. (I once received a rejection within about four days. That felt good.) If it’s been a couple of months, there’s a good chance you made it past the primary gatekeepers and are under some serious consideration. (Or it means they haven’t looked at the slush pile in six months, but I refuse to think of it like that.)

If, like me, you find yourself waiting and obsessively refreshing your email, take heart! Eventually you will get a response. In the meantime, start brainstorming about your next project and get some work done.

Update: The day I drafted this, I received an acceptance letter from one of the publications I was waiting for. See! It does pay off!


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