You finished, you edited, you polished, you submitted your first manuscript. Now all your eggs are in a big basket while you wait weeks or months to hear from an agent. You refresh your email every minute for a few weeks before you start to get discouraged.
Maybe some requests for partials come in. Maybe some kindly worded rejections with suggestions for improvement. More often form rejections or nothing at all.
Most published writers will tell you that as much as they loved and believed in their first novels, in retrospect, they were not publishable. Well doesn’t that just blow? How many novels did they have to write? Four to six until they had something good.
Instead of getting discouraged, consider how much you want to be a published writer. Enough to put in the work? Enough to consider the above process a necessary learning period? Self imposed schooling for novelists?
If the answer is yes, than here is the most important, best piece of advice I can give anyone.
Don’t put all your eggs in one slush pile basket. As soon as you click send on that first query, start writing your next novel. Instead of focusing all your energy, hopes and fears on whatever you sent out into the world, focus it on something new. That first manuscript will either come back to you with achievements or it will come back to you needing more work, but if you have something else in the works, you are not only continuing to improve your craft, you are also building up your inventory.
No one, in any profession is at their best when they first start their job. Every project is an opportunity for growth, so keep taking on projects. Set challenges for yourself. Read! You will find with each novel that you are more aware of your writing, that it comes easier for you to finish the first draft, that you are becoming an expert.
Don’t waste your time waiting or worrying. Keep writing. Always.