Pitch Wars Advice Blog Hop
So you applied to PitchWars. Congratulations! If you're reading this, you are probably glued to your computer these days, am I right?
If you're anything like me the year I submitted to PitchWars, you might be busy stalking the #PitchWars feed, keeping an eye on mentor tweets, and trying to glean even the smallest clue about whether or not you are being considered. And hey, this is an advice blog post, not a "what I did" blog post, so I'm going to give you my best advice right now.
I get it, it's really easy to obsess in this business. But it is also so, so hard on your mental health and heart. At this point in the process, you've done everything in your power to prepare the best submission you can. Now it is 100% out of your hands. SO LET IT GO. Figure out some healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the wait, and you will be set for a career full of highs, lows, and long, long, looooooooooooong periods of uncertainty. (YAY PUBLISHING).
So what does healthy coping look like? Sure, sometimes it is a bag of Ruffles dipped in ranch dressing and a bottle of wine (don't you dare judge me).
But since doing this every day and evening for the rest of your life could lead to serious health issues, here are a few other ideas to keep you occupied yet moving forward in your writing journey.
Craft Resources Are Your Friend.
Whether you are selected to participate in PitchWars or not, you have writing and revision in your future. So instead of wasting time wondering if a tweet from a mentor that says "I love the ocean" means that mentor LOVES THE OCEAN IN YOUR PITCH, spend time exploring books, blogs, videos, and podcasts that discuss the craft of writing and revision, or even just the industry overall. The more you know, the better you will be. And you can ALWAYS learn more and get better.
A few of my favorites include (books) Wired for Story, On Writing, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, (blogs) K.M. Weiland's Helping Writers Become Authors site, Susan Dennard's Writing Tips, (podcasts) 88 Cups of Tea, The Creative Penn, Literaticast. And those are just a tiny glimpse into all the content you can consume while you wait for the mentee announcement.
Cheat on Your Current WIP
When I'm struggling to finish writing or revising a WIP, new shiny ideas tend to pop up and tap dance for my attention. It's my brain's way of avoiding the hard work. That's also how someone ends up with four or five half-baked ideas and no finished manuscripts. So I usually advise writing that idea down and then gently telling it to go away. Not, like, forever. Just until you can finish whatever project you are committed to at the moment.
However, now is the PERFECT time for a little side action. Your current WIP is in a holding pattern. Yes, you'll eventually be returning to it for revision or querying, but right now is the time to start thinking about what's next for you. It's time to:
If you don't have a list of concepts you want to start developing, get creative. Google "weird America" or "little known facts" or "women in history." Read the news. Follow small town police blotters. Create a new character, write out their bio. Think of normal scenarios and ask yourself "what if?" to turn the situation on its head. Read in your genre. Come up with a few concepts and tinker. If you're a plotter, see if you can get something outlined. Pantser? Write a first chapter. See if you connect with the characters. The first idea won't always be the next big one, so keep at it until you are inspired. Just imagine having your next project in the pipeline when announcements are made. Whatever happens, you've got things to do. And that feels great.
Be a Good CP
You have some free time on your hands. GREAT! This is your chance to return the favor to anyone who has read or critiqued your work. Whether or not you get into PitchWars, building a strong CP network will be invaluable to your writing career. Take advantage of times when your workload is light to reach out to people you've traded with in the past and let them know you have time to read. It's a perfect time to further develop those relationships.
And if you don't have CPs, now is a great time to find them. Twitter, Facebook groups, or organizations like SCBWI or RWA are there to connect you with other writers in your genre. Get started now so you have people to turn to when you need feedback or support.
Gird Your Loins
This is the tough love section. You may not get into PitchWars. You may not get an agent even if you do. You may continue to beat your head against the wall figuratively (and okay, sometimes literally) for the next few months or even years (says a still querying writer, hi, hello, high-five, sob).
If you love writing, if you have a passion for story telling, you are going to have to learn to deal with disappointment. Not a single writer I know can say they've only gotten "YES" and good news in their careers. So now is a good time to figure out how you are going to handle a "NO." (And no, begging doesn't work)
Disappointing news? Fair enough. Wallow. Pity party it up. Dig into those Ruffles and ranch (this sounds like a band name and I'm here for it). But you need to consider how to move on and move forward. I used to let a NO crush my creativity and send me into a funk that could derail me for entire months at a time. And nobody with a goal has months to wallow and whine. Set limits. Give yourself grace to feel the disappointment and then force yourself forward. Maybe it is a revision outline. Maybe it's reading your WIP with fresh eyes. Maybe it's focusing on that shiny new idea you came up with because something new is exciting and right now you need something that makes your heart race again. Whatever it is, keep writing. I believe in you. The writing community believes in you.