The art of waiting while staying sane

Right now, I’m in the midst of waiting. I’m waiting to hear back from literary agents, waiting to understand why I’m stuck in the middle of editing my current writing project, waiting for responses to resumes I’ve sent out. As an impatient person who has yet to learn the art of waiting while staying sane, I have these thoughts to offer.

We all have wait for something. And while pondering the outcomes and their many consequences, the seconds begin to feel like hours. But, in those hours, there’s time to do other things besides obsess.

Here are suggestions for how to wait and reclaim your sanity:

Make plans. Your brain is a glorious organ. Not only is it capable of remembering that you’re waiting for that very thing you want most, but more importantly, it’s capable of great distraction. So, do yourself a solid and distract yourself by making plans. Depending on how long you might have to wait—a day, weeks, or months—your plans may be small or large. See people you haven’t seen, write letters to friends (actual handwritten letters), shop for stationery to write your letters on, redecorate your bedroom. Whatever you choose, stick to it. Create a routine, make a list of all the things you want to do and stick to it.

Learn something new. Nothing cures waiting like not knowing what the hell you’re doing. Learn something hard, like French, or something easy, like how to make brownies. Or get to that thing you’ve been avoiding, like organizing your music library, or taking a painting class, or joining a club at school. After that, see #1.

Donate your time. There are plenty of good causes that can use your (wo)man power. Food banks, libraries, town clean-up committees, and community gardens all need people with time, and you are someone who has some of that to burn. Make use of it for a good cause.

Read, read, read. Fiction, nonfiction, magazines, picture books, paranormal romance—whatever makes you happy and keeps your mind filled. Reading is more than food for your soul, it also can inspire your next work, next blog post, or next conversation.

Go wild. Going wild means breaking free of the idea that you can’t do anything while you wait. If you’re a romance novelist, start a sci-fi story. If you paint, use charcoal. If you cook, try baking. If you’re always on edge, try meditation. Similar routines can lead us into a rut, but if you deviate from the path a little, you might find something new you never knew you liked.

If you have to wait for something, and we all do at one point or another, make your time count instead of watching the seconds tick away. I promise you, your brain will thank you for the distraction.