If you're querying now, or have in the past, how do you develop patience to wait for responses?
To me, this question is ALL about coping. I remember querying, and man, was it a roller coaster. At times I was elated, at other times, crushed, and at most times, just trying to deal with silence and waiting. Querying can be stressful.
Coping is defined as specific efforts we take to master, tolerate, or reduce the impact of stressful events.
Two broad types of adaptive strategies have been identified:
- Problem-solving: efforts to do something active to deal with the stressful circumstances
- Emotion-focused: efforts to regulate the emotional consequences of the stressful circumstances
Except for avoidant coping, in which a person engages in behaviors or mental states that keep him/her from dealing directly with the stressful stuff (alcohol and drug abuse often falls into this category). Research shows that avoidant copers report more depressive symptoms than do approach/active copers. There's also a host of non-productive strategies, including obsessively worrying or ruminating over the stressful circumstances. These are generally not the best strategies if you want to feel better in the long term.
Now, waiting for a response from somebody is a pretty helpless place to be sometimes. Querying is NOT the only time I've experienced this in my life, and I suspect many of you are the same. I waited to hear from colleges. Grad schools. Internships. Post-docs. Jobs I'd applied to. And that's just professionally speaking. Sometimes I got good news, sometimes I didn't. Same thing with querying, of course (and submission is very similar).
How I cope:
My chief strategy for this type of waiting is cognitive. Put simply, I think about the worst thing that could happen: a rejection. And I imagine how I will cope with that, how I will go on living my life, how I will move on and survive emotionally even though this thing I want means a lot to me. I experience those feelings in a sort of simulation, walking myself through what it's going to be like, anticipating the emotions I'll have, thinking about how exactly I'm going to deal.
Please note: this is not the same as worrying or rumination, both of which just lead to uncontrolled bad feelings and a focus on how terrible things are. No, this is a kind of active, controlled, emotionally-oriented coping strategy with a focus on the fact that yes, it could be bad, but regardless, I'LL BE OK. This strategy got me through the entire querying process without shedding a tear (in fact, I didn't weep until the week I had to juggle five agent offers--THAT sent me right over the edge, I tell you).
Once I've gone through my little cognitive process, I move on to more behavioral strategies, most notably writing something new, beta-reading, blogging, and engaging with writing friends who are experiencing similar things. I turn to them for support on a regular basis, and WOW, have they ever been there for me (by the way, thank you to Justine, Stina, Brigid, Jaime L, Jennifer W, Dawn, Matt, and also to many of you with whom I've had more fleeting--so far--yet incredibly positive, interactions). The support available in the blogging/Twitter community is truly incredible.
That's how I do it. Now, your turn. Tell me how you cope with waiting for a response, whether it's querying, submission, contests, jobs and other professional endeavors, interpersonal relationship stuff, whatever it is. Are you an active coper, or more avoidant? Are your strategies more oriented toward problem-solving, or are they more emotion-focused?