The Waiting Game

So…what exactly do you do as you’re standing on the precipice of seeing a dream fulfilled?

A little background: in exactly 14 days (…plus 8 hours and 40 minutes, but who’s counting?…) my lifelong goal of publishing a book will become a reality. (Well, there were a few months in the third grade when I wanted to be a fireman, but other than that the book thing has been pretty consistently on the radar.) After several years of developing and refining the content, then two years of intense writing and editing, it’s finally time to push the project out into the wild.

I can only imagine that this must be what it feels like to send your oldest child off to college; you can only hope that you’ve done enough to prepare them, but their fate is ultimately in their own hands. I hope my book studies well and doesn’t party too much.

Now there is the waiting. And the advice. “You should do XYZ, because that’s the most important thing” followed closely by “NO! You should do ABC because THAT’S the most important thing.” Who’s right? And the main role of a pending non-fiction author is – wait for it – to promote the book to anyone and everyone who will listen. My mandate these days is to reach out to clients, friends and anyone else who will listen to me talk about the book. (My 5:30am basketball group at the YMCA gets the pitch in between plays.)

So back to my original question: what do you do in the waiting phase? Here’s how I’ve answered it: keep working. I’m reminded of Steve Pressfield‘s anecdote in The War of Art about having completed his first major writing project. He rushed to his mentor’s home to share the news, and was greeted with, “That’s great, Steve! Start the next one tomorrow.” Artists make things. It’s what we do. That doesn’t mean that we don’t celebrate, or that we never take the time to appreciate our work. It simply means that to stay healthy and effective we must stay engaged in what we do, day after day. Activity yields inspiration, but waiting yields discontent.

If you’re just finishing up a big project or are in the “space between”, I’d encourage you to identify your next project now. That’s what I’m doing. Sure, I plan to celebrate plenty when the book launches, but I know that there are many more projects on the horizon and that this is just a step on the path. (A very cool one, but a step nonetheless.)

(Oh, and…will you please pre-order my book? 😉

Share your thoughts:

Please keep your comments civil and on topic.


  1. Michael Campbell

    Todd, congrats on achieving one of your life-long dreams. I’ve been a fan of your podcast for quite some time. You and your guests have given me the clarity I’ve needed to get through some tough times. I’m happy to say that I’ve received my copy of The Accidental Creative and I’m looking forward to reading it in my “space between”.

    • Todd Henry

      Thanks so much, Michael! I hope you enjoy the book.

  2. Alli Patterson

    Well, you asked about my thoughts on this so here is my observation of late: The energy I have to work on something or create something is not defined by the project itself.  When I come to the end of what I consider to be “a project” I may, and often do, still have the energy to continue.  Sometimes even more.  And that can feel frustrating to me because I typically define my projects pretty tightly.  So I’ve lately experienced frustration at the wondering-what-to-do-next part because I haven’t exhausted the energy.  I hadn’t thought about it yet in terms of “what should I do when that happens?”  I’d simply noticed this tension right around the time you posted this.  So I guess I’ll keep going with something new until the energy ends!

    • Todd Henry

      Alli, thanks – great thoughts!


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I'm Todd Henry.

I'm Todd Henry.

I write books, speak internationally on productivity, creativity, leadership, and passion for work, and help people and teams generate brilliant ideas. More

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I write books, speak internationally on productivity, creativity, leadership, and passion for work, and help people and teams generate brilliant ideas.

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