Friday, 16 August 2013


It's official - I have submissianxiety. The symptoms are there for all to see: inability to settle to a task, compulsive checking of email, nervous fiddling with the synopsis, unrealistic expectation of publishing response times and frenzied sequel planning. I may have missed the condition off my list of common writing disorders, but that doesn't make it any more manageable.

I wanted to write a blog about something else today, anything really - the price of stamps, shark dentistry or even Martian cheese farms. But my submissianxiety wouldn't let me do that. It's all because I got so excited about finishing the manuscript and sending it off to people, and now I have all this extra adrenaline running around my system with nowhere to go. Of course, I tell myself, I'm being ridiculous - good things take time, and I should be patient and wait for everyone to get back to me. But somehow that reassurance isn't doing the trick!

OK, time for some deep breaths. Clearly, my submissianxiety needs some careful management, lest I go raving mad. Here are some things I might be able to do about it:
  • Stop checking my email so often. This is an easy one. I don't need to look at my personal email more than two or three times a day, so I should keep to a schedule - maybe at the start of the day, after lunch and 5 or 6 in the evening.
  • Leave the book alone. The couple of people who've fed back on the novel so far both made the same suggestion of how it might be improved. However, that would be a lot of work, and would also move the book away from my original conception of how I wanted it to be. Anything that would make the book better is worth strong consideration, but I feel I need to stop tinkering and wait for a wider spread of opinion before doing anything rash. It is hard, though, to resist the idea of constantly revising the book until someone likes it. This was the thing I liked best about having an agent, because there was usually only one person telling you what to change.
  • Tell myself that no-one is ever going to want this book, so there's no point getting my hopes up. This is the pessimist's approach to the problem. I've often seen this mentioned by authors, but always in the context of: "I sent the book off not expecting anything to happen and two weeks later I had a squillion dollar deal." I've yet to see the more truthful version: "I sent the book off expecting everyone to hate it and nine months later it was pretty clear they all did."
  • Get immersed in something else. This one's easy to suggest, but harder to achieve. Part of the nature of submissianxiety is that it hovers behind one shoulder, constantly reminding me not to get too involved with a new project, lest someone suddenly require me to completely rewrite the novel I have on submission and churn out a couple of sequels by Wednesday week. It's fair to say that this has never happened to me yet, however! I do like the thinking that I've seen writers use elsewhere, the idea that they will just devote two or three weeks to a speculative project and see what happens. Maybe it's time for me to look at writing a 7-9 book?
So, there are just a few ideas for the suitable treatment of submissianxiety. If you have any tricks of your own, do let me know in the comments. I feel calmer already!



  1. I usually keep my mobile on silent. It may have been a mistake to turn the sound back on - now it pings at me every time an e-mail comes in...

    Good luck with you submissianxiety! I think it was quite an oversight to leave off your list of writing disorders. :)

    1. I've already turned off the automatic push of emails to my mobile, so I have to open the email app to see if there are any new ones. Now I just have to discipline myself not to keep looking at the app!

  2. I've set Facebook notifications so that they go to a folder and appear as read. So I only check them when I remember. Unfortunately I remember all the time. The best cure for submissionanxiety of course is to simply write another book.

  3. Anything that means you physically can't access your keyboard/keypad is good e.g. pottery or breadmaking or Jackson Pollock style handprinted mega paintings.

  4. I am about to enter into this condition myself, sending stuff out tomorrow. So while I still have a shred of sanity, I will share this idea, which you can then bounce back at me when I start wailing and biting my nails down to the shoulder joint:
    Start something else. Start something small, such as a Kindle single, short story, book trailer... something that you can give away to publicise the main project,
    or write a blog post ... oops you already did, but fire this one back at me