If you took a poll and asked writers what is the hardest part of writing, I would bet that waiting for a response would be pretty high on the list.
Waiting isn’t easy at any time and waiting to see if someone you have never met will like your work is torture. Submitting is like buying a lottery ticket without even knowing the odds. You pick your numbers and then wait to see if you get lucky.
I know there are times that the paint on my refresh button gets pretty worn. The F5 is still there, but it seems more translucent all the time.
But there are several things every writer can do to make this wait easier.
First of all, read a few issues of the magazine before you submit. This will help you decide if your submission will even have a chance at publication. If a magazine tends to publish dark fantasy and your story is a lighthearted fantasy, you are probably wasting your time submitting. If you can see your story alongside the others, then give it a shot.
Second, don’t worry about it. Most magazines and publishers have a pretty deep slush pile. They are not going to get to your story in an hour or even the next day. Slush reading is a voluntary position and most of these readers do have a real life. They work in reading time around their own lives. Your story WILL get read. It just might not get read today, tomorrow or even next week.
Find a distraction. If you find yourself staring at your inbox, then you might just need a distraction. Pick up a book, read some more short stories, or go play a game for a while. Give yourself some time to relax. Hitting the refresh key isn’t going to get that response back any sooner. But being distracted might make some room for different ideas to start circling in your head.
Write something else. If you are like me, you have a pile of stories in several stages of completion. Grab one of them or start a new story. Write a better one than what you just sent off.
Whatever you do, keep in mind that a rejection is not personal. Just because your submission isn’t accepted doesn’t mean that it will not fit somewhere else. If you do get a rejection. Check your markets and send it back out.
Good luck, and keep writing.