I turned a book in on June 1st and I’ve been in “deadline detox” mode ever since.
True confession: I love my job, but I’m not a fan of deadlines.
Nonetheless, deadlines are a fact of life for the traditionally published author. The contracts we’re fortunate to be offered often span 3+ books and our upcoming deadlines are written into those contracts. So it’s not unusual for us to commit to write novels years before those novels are actually due. Then it’s up to us to transfer our nebulous story ideas from our imaginations onto the page.
Have you seen this cartoon depiction of an author’s timeline?
It’s definitely not in my nature to procrastinate all the work “while crying” to the weeks leading up to a deadline. So I work on my rough draft steadily for months. Once I finish the rough draft, I give myself two full months to rewrite my manuscript before my deadline.
Even so, this past April and May were challenging for me for a few reasons.
#1: Pressure. Readers, do you remember what homework felt like? Can you recall the last time you had a huge report or term paper hanging over your head? A deadline imposes a silent but heavy pressure. No matter what I was doing in April and May — making dinner, driving car pool, attending elementary school Field Day — the work I needed to do on my manuscript was weighing on me. The thought, I should be writing, was always at the back of my mind. Deadlines = stress and stress isn’t a creative muse’s best friend.
#2: Book Release Activity. True to You released May 2nd and I sincerely wanted to support it as much as I could. Thus, I was grappling with a long To Do list concerning True to You right when the deadline pressure for my new manuscript was most intense.
Here’s a glance back at my month of May…
You’d think that a writer would be able to bounce back immediately after surviving a deadline, right? All that euphoria! So energizing! And I do experience a rush of euphoria after hitting “send” on a manuscript. However, right after that, I mostly feel drained.
For me, the deadline detox process takes about a week. During that time I’m sloughing off all the busy-ness and tension and remembering how to slow down and take deep breaths and rest. I’m also catching up on all the stuff I put off — like hair cuts, groceries, returning library books, and a trip to the post office.
I’m just now feeling like myself again. And right on time. It’s summer! Every year, I schedule an entire month off of writing during the summer so that I can vacation with my family while my creative well fills back up drop by drop.
Through the Lord’s provision, and only through His provision, I’ve survived another deadline. Whew. Amen! Yikes. That was hard. I now have ten not-crazy months to look forward to before the very-crazy months of April and May return.
Have you accomplished a big project of some kind lately? Did it take you awhile to “detox” afterward? What are your best get-your-groove-back tips?