I'm in a precarious spot with my writing life right now. I am currently on my first round of submissions to editors, I'm anticipating the possibility of edits, and all the while, I’m trying to write my new work-in-process.
It's exciting and nerve-racking, alternating between the two each nanosecond.
This isn’t much different than when you're querying agents, deciding whether you should keep chipping away at the book you're seeking representation for, or start a new book as you wait. You pace, debate, decide, change your mind...and change it again.
Where is the balance? How do you function with so many things happening at the same time?
Never fear, my advice is here! (Just remember I'm still learning, too.)
No matter what you're doing, your nerves won't help you. Sit down and organize what you have happening so that you can see it on paper. And I do mean paper. WRITE IT OUT. There is something about actually forming the words yourself, not just typing them, that helps clear your mind and settle the nerves. Once you have everything on paper, it’ll help you prioritize what you should attack first and breathe while doing it.
GO IN ORDER
Edit BEFORE you query. Not during or after. BEFORE.
While you're querying, have a new project to work on. Even if it's not a new book—have something to keep you from going back and second-guessing the book you've released into the wild.
Hardest. Thing. Ever.
I say this half-heartedly because I'm awful at following it myself. If you're querying agents, be patient and know you’ll hear back, and eventually you might stop jumping when your email goes off. Same thing applies if you're on submission with publishers.
But let's be real, those heart palpitations when you see an email from an/your agent will probably never go away. I know mine haven't. But having a new project to work on while this is happening will keep you focused as a writer and invested in something new.
DON’T STOP WRITING
Much like anything else with writing, it’s good to have something to distract you: a new project, a craft, an event—anything to keep your mind off your email and your submitted book.
But don't let querying or being on submission be an excuse to stop writing. A writer has to write, and if you stop just because your nerves are racing, you’re going to lose some of your momentum, and you could be withholding potential for your next great idea.
A break is needed from time to time, but don't let yourself get out of the habit of writing. Ever.
Once you hit submit, have the confidence that your words speak for themselves.
And then get back to writing some more.