Life as an Author with Deadlines
Despite my best intentions, I’ve been oversleeping a lot lately. My weariness is caused, no doubt, by the encroaching heat of summer combined with the extra physical exertion of vending at the Snohomish Farmers Market and the Northern Lights Rosewood XIII medieval festival, plus emotional exhaustion from delivering hospice care to a second dying cat.
In the mornings I struggle to wake, feeling like Dorothy in the poppy field, fighting the urge to sleep. Sometimes sheer willpower pulls me out of bed, but then my eyes start drooping partway through the day, and there’s nothing for it but to catch a nap.
I’ve been getting a surprising amount done, all things considered. That’s because I regulate my life with schedules. A menu hangs on the side of the refrigerator, telling me what to prepare not only for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but also in-between snacks. I have set morning, afternoon, and evening routines. I blog according to a plan, and my manuscript production schedule keeps my writing projects on track. As a literary judge and book reviewer, I even read to a schedule, although I’ve been backing that one down in order to read at a more leisurely pace.
Is such a regimented life tough to live? It can be, especially when I oversleep and have to catch up to myself. The key to benefiting from routines and schedules is not to become inflexible in them. That sounds paradoxical, I know, but really it isn’t. Here’s my secret to getting more done: I treat routines and schedules as guidelines and make completing mine into a game I play each day. Sometimes the game goes well; other times, not so well. It’s all good, because tomorrow will come, God willing.
By now you will have guessed that I’m achievement-oriented but easy-going. That’s a wierd combination, but…guilty.
Enter deadlines to throw everything off. When that happens, my time is not my own. It doesn’t matter that a holiday is approaching, I have the flu, or that vacation nears. I must deliver within the time frame I am given. This usually throws me into crisis mode. I have been known to sit for endless hours at my computer, prising my fingers from the keyboard only to sleep for a few, scant hours. At those times, when my focus is intruded upon, I can become testy . Most writers respond in this way to being interrupted, but I try not to allow myself the excuse.
I’ll confess to secretly envying indie authors the freedom to set their own deadlines and manage their own time. This is one of the reasons I’m embarking on a hybrid career (part traditionally-published and part self-published). I’ve noticed something, though.
Work expands to fill the time allotted for it.
It’s all too easy to put off until tomorrow what you intended to do today. Without a deadline, the tyranny of now can far too easily push aside my goals.
The logical solution is to set my own more-reasonable deadlines, where possible, and make meeting them into a game I play each day.
Even when I oversleep.
©2014 by Janalyn Voigt