by Dame Devon
Sunday, I hit a case of deadline dontwannas that threatened to throw me completely off track.
To get a feel for my mental state, let me sum up. In the last three months I have:
• Revised book 5 (editorial revisions)
• Finished copy edits on book 5
• Gathered info/researched cover ideas for book 5
• Re-outline book 6 due to revisions on book 5
• Written book 6
• Polished first draft of book 6
• Had book 4 released in bookstores
• Attended RT Booklover’s Convention
• Given interviews, giveaways, excerpts on blogs and done a signing
• Written intros and put together table of contents for short story collection
• Consulted on cover art for short story collection
Looking back on it, it doesn’t seem like too much to shove into three months for a full time writer. But as you can imagine, each of those things came with a fairly tight deadline. Days off have been scarce around these parts, especially when the rest of my time has gone into several family/real life deadlines.
When my editor asked me if I could, by Monday, gather information for the new series I have coming out, I thought it over and decided, yes, I could. A half hour after finishing polishing, printing and delivering book 6 to my first readers, I started gathering information for the new series. What did my editor need?
Since this series is a new genre for me (American steampunk) more information was better than less.
I needed to write: short cover-copy description of the book (for marketing/sales) character descriptions, clothing, weapons, accouterments, setting backgrounds, world details, list of title ideas, first three chapters, and attach photos of things (setting, accouterments) that might give a feel for my book, along with other book covers I like.
Good news? The first three chapters were already written. Bad news? I needed to do everything else in two days. I did okay the first half day (Saturday evening) but on day two I woke up and thought, I dontwanna. I dontwanna get up and work all day. I dontwannt write today. I really, really, needed a day off.
I knew I had to do it–but every time I sat at my desk, the dontwannas grabbed hold. Reading on the computer screen was almost painful. Soon I couldn’t make much sense of things I had written. I felt pretty overwhelmed. Can you say burnout? Big time.
But that deadline was creeping closer and closer. I could not fail it, myself, or my editor. So what did I do? I resorted to trickery.
• The computer screen hurt? I printed stuff out. I dug out some nice highlighters (I don’t play with highlighters nearly enough) and used them all over my printouts. It might still be work, but it was pretty work.
• I wrote a list of what I needed to do and kept it as short as possible.
• I downloaded new music that reminded me of my series and played it full blast.
• I went outside for a half hour and cut branches, pulled blackberry runners taller than me, and yanked ivy out by the roots, all good things to clear my head and deal with frustration.
• I went to a movie (I don’t actually recommend this trick, but it was Father’s Day and this real life thing was also a priority. However, the movie sort of reset my brain and was a great story that boosted my spirits. So maybe something about the change of place, and emotional scrub-out of immersing in someone else’s storytelling was actually valuable there.)
In short, I did everything different than how I usually do it.
And it worked. I was able to pull it all together and got it all off to the editor on time.
It made me think about how we Dames talk about stubbornness getting us through the tough spots. I completely agree. And sometimes changing things up–even resorting to trickery–is another tool a stubborn soul can use against the beasts of doubt, or even the creeping deadline dontwannas.
How about you? When you can’t steal a whole day off, do you find switching things up helps you to keep moving forward? Do you have one sure-fire way to keep yourself safe from the dreaded dontwannas?