Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shireen Jeejeebhoy – How to Meet Deadlines and Stay Sane


How to Meet Deadlines and Stay Sane

by Shireen Jeejeebhoy

To be honest, I don’t stay sane. I drive myself until the deadline is met, then I reach for a big bite of chocolate and some serious TV time to recover. Then I promise myself that next time I will schedule better.

Promises, promises.

I do schedule my writing by joining National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). That frenzy to write 50,000 words in thirty days may not seem rational, yet being forced to write every day, a chapter a day, and knowing months ahead of time that I will be doing that, allows me to get the job done and to remain sane. It’s the ability to plan ahead, as much as possible, that’s the key. Other keys: knowing thousands and thousands of people around the planet are in it with you too, and when the folks running NaNoWriMo send you an email that seems to read your mind. Their email gives you that boost or comforting blanket to hold onto to keep you writing, to stay sane, and to meet that November 30th deadline.

Updating your word count publicly is an important part of NaNoWriMo. It can be like a leering giant daring you to write 1,667 words daily and mocking you with its unchanging figures on the days you fail to write one word. Yet I find it more of a reward. Typing in a higher figure is like the crowd cheering from close and far, high-fiving your achievement, boosting your mood.

The guaranteed way not to remain sane is when others are in control and affect your deadline. You may want to finish that book by a certain date, but if you are relying on someone to edit pages or give you feedback on a chapter that your book hinges on and they don’t come through by the day you need them to, your deadline turns from the push you need to complete a project to a terrifying taskmaster. I’m not sure what the solution to that is. It may help to create a Plan B beforehand. Whether someone volunteers to give you feedback or you pick an editor or publisher who promises to meet a deadline, consider what you would do if they don’t. Could you continue on with other aspects of your novel? Could you begin writing another book? You will need to become tough with them to cough up the promised feedback or edits, but in a cordial, polite way. The last thing you want to do is to shame them or make them feel guilty. Then they’ll drag their feet even more.

It’s hard, but planning on the possibility of that happening and taking the time to think about what to say, how to say it, and when to say it (and even how frequently) will allow you to write the nagging reminder when you’re not stressed, frustrated, or angry. In that way, your words are more likely to persuade someone to hop to it and thus calm you down.

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Genre – Christian Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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