This is a guest blog post by Darlene P. Campos
She is the author of young adult novels – Behind Mount Rushmore, Heaven Isn’t Me and Summer Camp is Canceled. Check out her website and blogs at http://www.darlenepcampos.com
Querying is a long, strenuous journey along the publishing road. Rejections, full requests that turn into rejections, and reading each agent’s submission guidelines can certainly feel overwhelming. Sometimes, after several rejections, giving up might seem like an option. The good news is there are ways to remain calm while trekking on the querying mountain. Here are a few helpful practices I used that worked for me and can also work for you:
- Go for a walk or complete another physical activity
I love to walk. Ever since COVID lockdowns started, my gym closed temporarily and then sadly permanently closed, so every day, except when it rains, I walk 4-5 miles after work to de-stress myself. But when I was querying, I would go to the gym and go for a long swim, take a Zumba class, run on a treadmill, or do some DDP Yoga. When your mind is focused on a physical activity, you can forget about the querying process, even if it’s just for a half an hour.
- Pursue a favorite hobby
Writing, in my opinion, can be a hobby, but it’s also work, and work can burn anyone out. Drafting, revising, line-editing, and of course, sending out query emails are part of the publishing process, but eventually, you will need a break. Spending your leisure time with a fun hobby also helps to distract your mind. I’ve heard of writers who make quilts when they’re not writing, so if you can make a quilt, why not? Whether it’s quilting, cooking, home renovations, or learning another language, go for it!
Reading is part of the writing process as well. When we read books, especially books in the genre or age group we’re writing in, we can get ideas on how to strengthen our own manuscripts. For example, when I was querying, I had an agent tell me that I needed to cut down on some dialogue in the opening pages. I did, and I additionally read the opening pages of several books within my genre. I noticed that dialogue didn’t really show up until page 3 or 4, so it made me rethink my opening pages and in turn, my draft became stronger. Reading is so much fun already and the fact that it can help improve your writing is a big bonus.
- Talk to people you trust
Life can be stressful indeed and sooner or later, all of us need to vent about what’s going on. Querying definitely adds to the stress. You’re thinking “Wow! A full request? What if the agent doesn’t like the rest of my book?” or “Why am I not getting any full requests?” These internal questions plus the long wait times can become overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to talk to a trusted person about the process. The trusted person can be anyone from a best friend or spouse to a professional counselor. The #WritingCommunity on Twitter is a great place to network with other writers who understand how frustrating querying can be. Remember that accomplishments don’t necessarily need to be done 100% on your own. Having a support system makes a huge difference. If you watch any award show, the winner will make a speech about the people who supported them, such as their spouse, children, parents, etc. Think about your trusted community and talk to them about your querying process — I promise that they’re rooting for you!
- Find Time to Relax
This one sounds easier said than done. When life is ultra busy, can anyone really find time to relax? Maybe you can’t relax every day, but try to take five minutes about twice a week to sit back in a comfortable chair and just breathe deeply, in and out. There are YouTube videos available called 5 minute meditation or 10 minute meditation if you’ve got a little extra time. Put on some earbuds and listen to one of these videos or listen to a favorite song or two. When you’re relaxed, you can focus on tasks much better than when you’re extra stressed.
These tips worked wonders for me, and I hope they are helpful for you. Feel free to try these out or modify them into something that works for you. Querying is tough, but think about it this way: if getting an agent was truly impossible, there would not be any books, not even one, being published in our current times. Finding an agent for your manuscript is difficult, but it’s not impossible. Keep going!
Great advice Darlene, and thanks for this helpful information. David