I’m on a few deadlines. In addition to editing work, the first book in my series will release this September 1st, and the second book is due this summer as well. I’ve had to prioritize and strictly enforce my schedule lately and I’ve spent hours and hours at my computer, writing and rewriting for my summer deadline. I have other projects in the works, so the sooner I hand this project off, the sooner I can work on the others that have been on the back burner.
So, how do I decide what to set aside during crunch seasons? How do you decide? For me, I set aside social media, even marketing, until I can focus on it. I ask myself: what’s due soonest? Timing helps me in many ways—it both motivates and dictates my schedule. I set aside reflexively checking my e-mail, and I close all unnecessary tabs and apps/programs on my computer in order to stay focused on the necessary ones. My family needs my attention, so they are a priority. Sometimes you have to say no to extra tasks. That’s a hard one for some of us. I sometimes struggle with that. Even when I say no, I sometimes feel guilty later, which doesn’t help me focus on work. But our jobs as writers is important. If we honor our writing time, others will begin to respect it too.
Permission to Take a Break
Summertime is an especially challenging time to have to work 8-12 hours a day, so I do take breaks, which are so necessary. I recommend finding a peaceful setting to decompress. When the sun moves around the house to my flower garden, I love to go out and tend my plants. (Here’s a photo from one of my hanging baskets on a rainy day last spring.) The warm sun, so different from my cool home office in the basement corner, feels good. And tending my flowers makes me happy. I catch myself walking around, smiling from the joy of a simple hobby. Breaks are also helpful for working out plot points and overcoming writer’s block. And they’re probably good for our health. We must take care of ourselves, even on deadline.
Back to Work
The thing about breaks is, you have to set a time limit and discipline yourself to get back to work. Your book won’t write itself. So, I’ll take time away for family get-togethers, and meals, and even a trip to the pool so my youngest gets a chance to swim, but then it’s back to work.
Best Advice for Deadline Crunch Time
My writing sessions involve a lot of prayer. Prayers for grace, help, words, wisdom, insights, for the story to come together, for my readers, and for God’s glory and message to come through. He honors our prayers as we write for Him. Sometimes when I know I only have, say, a half hour left before I’ll be away from my computer for a while, panic will set in, thinking about all I have to do. Then I ask the Lord to help, and He does. Pretty soon, my fingers are flying over the keyboard and enjoying the thrill of a scene coming together in a profound way with word counts piling up.
How about you? What are your tricks for meeting deadlines and surviving the deadline crunch? I’d love to hear.
Write on, friends!
Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years. She has several books and short stories published. She has served as an acquisitions editor, and she currently works as a freelance editor. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. Her family lives in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at www.AnnetteIrby.com
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