Sunday, September 07, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - All Work And No Play Makes Sue Ann Cranky

As I write this post I'm down to 29 days before my deadline on JUNK IN THE TRUNK, the 10th Odelia Grey novel.

It's been a great weekend, even if Friday ended with me losing a crown and getting hardly any writing done (not because of the crown, but because of other stuff that cropped up). As I said in my last post, shit happens and you'd better be prepared. I have a dental appointment on Monday and in the meantime I'm trying to make up lost time on the manuscript.

Tip of the Day:
Even on deadline, make time for some fun.
It will help your writing. Trust me.

Even on a crushing deadline I make sure I schedule in fun time (aside from exercise which I don't consider fun). On deadline it's difficult to be spontaneous, but I make sure I get out with friends at least once every other weekend.  In September I have something fun going on every single weekend in spite of being on deadline, but I usually only schedule one day for the fun and usually not all of that day.

Saturday I had planned on meeting my friends Heide and Mark for brunch at the Spitfire Grill in Santa Monica, a favorite place. After brunch Heide and I were heading to an art show at the Brentwood Art Center, then on to do some needed shopping. I had planned on being home in the late afternoon to get back to my writing, but, as I've said before, shit happens. This time it was good shit.

Do you know how much time one can spend in Bed, Bath and Beyond? And buy so little? I came home with a couple of cartons of Keurig coffee pods and Heide bought a new fan. Really. That's it.

By the time we'd finished up everything it was almost dinner time so we stopped off at Billingsley's, another favorite place which was close by, for a bite to eat. BTW, it was one of the few meals at which I exercised my right to be a Half-Assed Vegan and I ordered prime rib.

I didn't make it home until 8:30 and I was tired, so I read a bit and went to bed. So much for getting in several hours of writing.

As Scarlett O'Hara said: After all... tomorrow is another day. Just don't quote that to yourself too often.

Several years ago I worked relentlessly on my books in every waking moment not taken up by my day job. The result was horrible depression, a feeling of having lost control of my life, anger and even a growing dislike for writing in general.  I hardly ever left my apartment and blew off invitations from friends regularly.

I wrote ALL THE TIME. Period.

After taking a good look at my crumbling psyche, I decided to stop beating myself up and take back my personal life. In spite of still being under contract to write 2 novels a year and working a day job, I started making time to go to plays and concerts. I met friends and went to parties and took short trips. I stopped and smelled the proverbial roses. And do you know what happened? I still made my deadlines. There were some much needed extensions here and there, but I hit them and my work did not suffer. In fact, I think the books written after I unchained myself from self-imposed slavery were better paced and needed a lot less editing.

Believe it or not, taking a day out to relax and enjoy yourself like this can, like exercise, clear the writing cobwebs and loosen up the words you're trying to get on the page. It's like pouring a bottle of Drano into your brain.
As I promised myself, I spent most of today writing. I didn't get as much done as I had hoped, but made some good solid progress that will need little editing. I also made myself a nice dinner and watched some TV and took time to sit on the patio and finish up a book I was reading. As soon as I post this blog, I'm planning on getting in another 45 minutes of writing.

If you're banging your head against a wall day
after day, all you're going to get is a headache, and you can't write with a massive headache. 
Step away from the wall and take a deep breath.


Mark Baker said...

I find this true with work/hobbies, too. If I go straight from work and spend all the rest of the day on my reviewing hobby, it starts to feel like work. You need that time off to enjoy others and just relax.

Saturday was fun! You might have gotten home earlier if we hadn't talked so long at the restaurant, but I wouldn't have wanted to leave any earlier.

Diane Vallere said...

Another very true and spot on post! Valuable advice for writers not on deadline, too. I've learned to take weekends (mostly) off from writing. I participate more in real life, and my brain gets that metaphoric Drano. And I honestly look forward to waking up on Monday and getting back to the WIP!

Sally Carpenter said...

Good observations, Sue Ann, and how true. Workaholics may crank out a bunch of words but how many of them are golden? Recently I've had to tell not to spend every spare minute writing. You're right, it makes for a cranky writer. And I often get good ideas when I'm not at a computer but doing other stuff. The brain's a well that needs replenishing.

Cindy Sample said...

Perfect timing for your post, Sue. Between marketing on-line and in person, plus working on edits for my latest WIP, I've been feeling like I've been living my protagonist's life instead of my own. And that's not a healthy or happy way to live. We all need well-deserved breaks. Thanks for the nice nudge.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks for the comments,