You know that amazing feeling when you write a terrific pitch to a potential editor or freelance writing client and then click send?
But then…you don’t get a response immediately.
One time, I actually said to myself, I sent them an email an hour ago, and they haven’t responded yet. Did they die? (They didn’t.)
The stress of waiting for a response can drive even the sanest freelance writer crazy.
But you don’t have to let it. Here are a few writer survival tips I use to stay sane while I’m waiting to hear back:
We tend to be our own harshest critics, but that’s not really useful.
Try using a nicer inner voice when you talk to yourself. Understand where you’ve come from, how far you’ve come, and where you’re going. Give yourself a chance.
And remember, you’re not a failure because someone didn’t answer your email.
Tip: Ask yourself: would you speak to a child with the same tone as your inner critic? I hope not. Nurture your growth the same you would any child’s.
Sometimes waiting is hard because you don’t have anything else to do. But you do have something to do. A writer who is not writing should be reading, marketing, dealing with life — anything other than watching your inbox.
Take your mind off that query-in-limbo by getting busy. Work on more queries or letters of introductions. Find more editors and clients to send pitches to.
Tip: Make a “to do” list. Even if that list says “make a list,” the need to fill the page will make you find things to do.
Have you set tangible goals? How much are you doing to work toward them? Did you send more emails today than yesterday? Did you finally get that snail mail to the post office? Yes? Good for you!
Your activity has just as much value as your clients getting back to you. Don’t pooh-pooh your grunt work.
Tip: Keep a journal. Record your highs, lows, and everything in between. That way you can look back at the actual record rather than relying on your memory to see how much you’re really doing.
Make a change
If after taking a measurement of your progress, you see that things aren’t moving along, then it is time to make a change.
Waiting is part of the job, but it’s not the entire job. Eventually, you should see results for your efforts. If one marketing tactic isn’t working, try another for a little while.
Tip: Writers don’t become awesome on their own. Have someone look over your emails, website, and marketing packages to make sure they’re the best they can be.
Freelance writing is not a microwave. You don’t put a single-serve query in the outbox and get a hot, delicious paycheck after four minutes. Like all good things, it takes time.
Goldie Ector is a Denver-based freelance writer and university financial aid counselor.