I might, possibly, be one of the most impatient people in the world. I admit it. So, it's obviously completely ironic that I've chosen to be a writer and enter the world of publishing, which far surpasses the world of "Hurry up and wait" that the film industry is. But I survived that, and I'll survive this too, because there are many lessons to learn from the tortoise rather than the hare.
First and foremost, when things are moving at the speed of molasses, it offers a great opportunity to work on your craft, and it might give you the spark that you've been looking for. Here are some great things you can do while waiting:
READ EVERYTHING YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON IN YOUR GENRE
When I'm not writing (or packing lunches, shuttling kids, squeezing in time for a shower or doing laundry), I try and read everything I can in my genre. It's great to know what is selling and why. Further, it allows you the opportunity to learn from published writers that write in a style similar to your own. When I read, I will often sit with a notebook and pen and write down key phrases or lines of dialogue or things that caught my eye as well written. I may have written, or will write, similar things, but I study the eloquence with how they crafted those sentences and break them down to see why they worked so well. It's like a free master class. Further, as I query agents, I can use an example of an author they may know (or represent) to give them a sense of what to expect from my writing. Authors will often thank their agents in the acknowledgements, and it becomes a perfect way to target someone who might be an appropriate fit for your work.
USE WRITING PROMPTS
Many authors (like Laurie Halse Anderson, who does this often on her blog) will offer up writing prompts to help inspire you to write. If you have a day where you are simply looking at the blinking cursor on the page, this is a great way to get inspired. Who knows what it can bring forth story-wise? At the minimum, it means you are writing, and whether or not you trash every word or write something amazing, the key is to aim to get words on a page daily, to make it a habit like brushing your teeth or drinking your coffee.
READ WRITING BLOGS
There is such a wealth of free, insanely good writing advice out there on numerous blogs, many from agents and writers themselves. These tips can help you ask yourself the right questions when revising, hear their personal experiences to help you know you're not alone, etc. Often, agents will even put up stats like where they are in their query letters or slush pile, which can help you calm down and refrain from biting your fingernails to nubs, wondering why you haven't heard anything.
SUBSCRIBE TO PUBLISHERS MARKETPLACE
For just $20 a month, you can get a daily email elivered to your inbox that tells you what is selling, in what genre, who is representing it and what publisher bought it. This may also help you hone your focus and know if the work you are trying to get out there is something that certain agents/houses might be interested in. You can also track Agent Deals and find out what agents represent what authors.
ATTEND WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES
Workshops and conferences are excellent networking oppportunities - you never know who you will meet! Often, they have manuscript critiques available for that critical first ten pages, and it can be extremely helpful to get that insight from a variety of industry professionals, even if you've had it done previously. I have yet to go to a conference or workshop where I didn't leave with some new nugget that I carry forth and incorporate, and I can't find enough words to describe, at the minimum, how inspiring it feels to be in the company of fellow writers. You can't help but leave this environment and not want to go home and get busy. It doesn't matter if it's an SCBWI event, or something at your local community college. Get yourself out there and get involved. It will help keep up your momentum.
If you don't have one, start one. You're helping establish your presence in the marketplace, getting your name out there, and offering yourself another outlet to write. See? I'm procrastinating today's writing by writing this blog right now!! Just kidding. (sorta)
And above all, keep on keepin' on. Don't give up!!