Stop Agonizing Over Your Recent Submission

Instead, move on with four writing ideas for inspiration

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

After submitting a short story, I tell myself to move on. Go on, get moving and start working on a new writing project. To find new inspiration and get my mind off analyzing the piece I submitted, agonizing over the outcome — accepted or rejected for publication.

Okay, so I still stalk my email for an acceptance or rejection letter. But, I do attempt to move on to writing something new. However, the problem becomes what’s next. After pouring out the words: editing, re-reading, revising, and re-working my last writing piece, I feel empty. Like I need to re-charge to find my creativity and start over again.

I have a few ideas that have helped me become inspired and dull the anticipation and the anxiety of waitingAnd stay inventive, connected, and push forward to a new body of work.

Take a writing class

I like to take writing classes. Typically at my library. It’s free, and I’ve developed relationships with a few other writers that attend. Writing classes help create new work and ideas through the class’s subject matter or writing prompt. The beauty of class deadlines propels us towards small steps and significant results, pushing us to sit down and write! A new focus, a new piece, will flow from your brain to your fingertips. And you’ll have something new to submit. More stories, more submissions, more chances for acceptance!

Writing prompts

Writing prompts are how I develop most of my short story ideas. Maybe it’s cheating, but it’s worked for me so far. I usually need to connect with the prompt in some way. It helps if it’s associated with a deadline for a contest, writing class, or submission timeline. With these constraints, I have a far better time building what you might call a story.

Check out Google or these sites for writing prompts. You could also develop or copy your writing prompt from a headline you see in the news, magazine, Facebook post, or eavesdropping on conversations (which is a guilty pleasure of mine), and take something from it, spinning and twisting it around in your mind and stories will flow.

Critique someone’s work

Critiquing someone else’s work helps to see where you can strengthen your writing and how to critique your work. Right now, I’m enrolled in a writing class at my local library all about the critique, which is run by author Catherine Jordan. She’s been showing us if we can pick out issues with character motivation, conflict, plot issues, contrite dialogue, voice, and much more, we will set ourselves up for major improvements in our writing.

You’ve likely developed a few friendships if you’re already involved in the writing community through classes, live or online — what a great opportunity to swap work and get feedback and take your mind off your submission.

Question & answer

Question yourself, your story, or your characters. What do you want to write about next? Great question! Answer it and then ask a follow-up question: why, what will happen, or how will this affect the character/story idea. I learned this technique by reading, Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card.¹ In Chapter two of his book, he points to this exercise as a great brainstorming exercise, he uses to find out more about characters or story ideas.

If I’m struggling to find inspiration, I use his formula.

For example.

Do you want to write about a woman or a man? A woman

Now ask a why or a how question.

How old? 30–40

Ask why again.

Why? Because I want to write about a woman who has children

Keep going.

Why? I want to write about a spin on a woman with children.

Ask what.

What kind of spin? Superhero spin

I decided on a new story idea from this exercise: to write about a kickass woman who has children with a superhero spin. The above activity was short, but it can be as long as you need, and sometimes there are multiple answers you can choose. A bit like those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a kid. Your responses will lead you to different paths and different plots.

Waiting for submissions stinks.

Do your best not to stalk your email, although I won’t judge you if you do. You don’t need to agonize, worry, bite your nails, stalk the floors, or eat brownie sundaes every night until you hear something regarding your submission. Wouldn’t it be great to have a newly created writing piece in hand instead of hoping and counting on your prior work?

Good luck, and keep writing!

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