Former Emu Peter Salomon is in a similar situation with his second book, GHOSTLY. (You can read the announcement here.) Peter and I have struck up a daily accountability email to report our progress and cheer each other on. I’ll admit I’m a tad jealous, but I love hearing how Peter is making amazing progress and writing up a storm. (By the way, his book sounds seriously, creeptastically awesome, and I can’t wait to read it!)
Unfortunately, the harder I try to work and more I try to focus, the more it feels like I’m moving in slow motion, fighting a desperate (losing) battle against the quicksand that is pulling me down. Life has been unavoidably crazy-making busy lately. My family is being pulled in multiple different directions, while still trying to make time to come back together again whenever possible. I’m definitely not willing to give that up. My health has also been a bit of a challenge lately, which I can’t do anything about at the moment besides wait, hope, try to get enough sleep, and drink a LOT of coffee. And, I’m already thinking about the NEXT book and getting nervous about not having anything new to send out right now. (Note: This seems to be a common Emu affliction…
- Tara Lazar’s Confessions of a Next Book Addict,
- L. B. Schulman’s Gotta Do It Write Away,
- Melanie Crowder’s Fire Season,
- and there are probably countless others, since it has to be on the mind of every contracted–or published–author.)
So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to get this deadline beast under control. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
- Balance: When I found out about this deadline, I decided I didn’t have time to read until the draft is finished. But the longer I went without reading, the crankier I got, and the less able I was to write. Reading fuels me (duh, right?). So, I’m going back to giving myself time to read every day. I had also decided, at first, that I had to keep writing during lunch and to eat whatever was at hand. Seriously? I’ll be better off in the long run if I eat something healthy–and take time to enjoy it–preferably with a good book! On the other hand, those sudden urges to clean the refrigerator, wash the windows, or organize the garage? It’s probably best to ignore them for the next few months. Having a book contract is a fine excuse for having a messy (or in my case, disastrous) house, right? RIGHT?
- Small goals: I keep thinking about how much more research I need to do, how many more interviews I need to set up, and how many more chapters are left to write. It’s a bit daunting. Overwhelming, really. Okay, it’s completely freaking paralyzing at times. I really need to quit thinking about the whole book and only focus on the next small bite. Writing the next little piece sounds so much easier than writing the whole darn thing! Of course I can do that next teeny tiny part. Piece of cake! (Which brings me to…)
- Bursts/Rewards: I think often about Melanie’s post on the Run-Rest cycle, which really struck me. Rather than feeling like I should be writing all the time—and then not wanting to write at all (which is what was starting to happen, even though I LOVE this book!), I’m going to try to be more mindful of working times and resting times. After all, I can still be doing something “productive” when I’m resting (like reading emails, catching up on Twitter, or eating chocolate)… hey, look, rewards! Not that I’m easily motivated by cheesy rewards or anything. (Okay, I confess, I’m totally motivated by cheesy rewards.) And when I’m enjoying those rewards, I must remember to…
- Focus on the now: I’m going to practice mindfulness and make sure to fully enjoy my family, my health, my little successes, and my rewards as they come. I’m also going to try to stop worrying about what’s next. Those other manuscripts that I’ve been working on will still be there waiting for me when this one is finished. My agent will probably thank me if she doesn’t hear from me for a few months. And if I don’t have something new go out on submission for the next 4 months, it isn’t going to tank my whole career. So, one thing at a time (or at least, I can make working on those other manuscripts one of the rewards for a successful burst, or something to play with when I’m resting.)
That’s my plan so far, but what about you? What tips and tricks have you found for staying motivated and sticking to a deadline without letting it overwhelm you? Please share–I’m going to need all the help I can get!