The one thing you need most as a writer is patience. Yes, you need to be patient with a story—you can’t force it. I suppose you can, but then you need to be ready to delete a lot. And you need not to rush to finish. What seems done to you at one point, may seem horribly unfinished a month later. But there’s another kind of patience that writers need. In between patience.
“In between patience” is when you’re waiting to hear from a beta reader/agent/editor. It’s when you’ve send out your novel to someone for some kind of judgment or decision. And it takes sooo long. And nervous energy that builds makes the wait interminable.
Normally, beta readers don’t take too long. Most will read and respond to your book within a month. If they aren’t backed up, maybe a week or two. But agents. That’s another story. I recently heard from an agent who had my novel for nine months. Nine months is a long time, especially since a query can sit around for six months before the agent requests a full. (Of course, some genres are faster. Young adult, new adult and middle grade fiction tend to be faster because they’re hot genres.)
So what do you do to make the time pass, aside from hitting refresh on your email hundred times a day? What you don’t do is wait one month and then nudge the agent to “make a decision already.” It just makes you seem needy, and the truth is they have real clients who earn them money—those people are their first priority, which is what you’d want if you were their client. Instead, remember what it is you do. You’re a writer, so you write.
While you’re waiting to hear back from your beta readers, write a short story or make notes for a new novel. When you’re sending out queries or submissions, begin writing that new novel. Besides keeping you busy, the new book will keep the rejections from hurting quite so much because you won’t have all your eggs in one basket. And if after all your work and waiting, your book doesn’t find a home, you’ll be that much closer to pitching a new book. A better book. And then, you can start the process over again. I know, it seems impossible. But, you can do this. You’re a writer.