I found myself in the ER of my local hospital early last week. It ended up that all the really scary possibilities hovering over me while I waited to see the doctors didn’t happen (and my lord, ERs in the middle of a pandemic are scary places!!).
What did happen was that I learned…I suspect (and a whole battery of tests ahead of me will possibly confirm) that the trip to the ER was a result of being inactive and overweight. The new workout regime possibly nudged the underlying condition that sent me to the ER into activity.
I won’t bore you with personal details beyond that, except to say I’m recovering, researching, and visiting a lot of doctors and laboratories.
What I do want to talk about today is how I plan to get my writing into recovery mode, just as I am doing for my health.
I am, as a result of the ER visit and the fallout last week, far behind in my schedule. I was already behind in a chronic way, but working on getting ahead. Now I’m so ridiculously behind, I have to do some serious remedial work;
- Revisit my publishing schedule. See if there is a way to still meet the deadlines.
Unfortunately, one of the series I’m writing (under a pen name) is entirely pre-published and on pre-order, with release dates running monthly until September. I can’t miss deadlines on that one. But everything else is negotiable.
Secondary writing (the really fun stuff I do with no expectations and no rules) will have to be put aside for some time.
Some of the primary stories I’d planned to release in between the series that is already out on pre-order might have to be dumped. We’ll see.
- Examine my current commitments outside writing
Is there anything I can off-load? Exercise/movement and activities like gardening and house cleaning (which all spike the heart rate) must stay.
But, everything else is negotiable. Especially TV watching (which has crept upwards).
- Build a temporary daily & weekly schedule that will let me catch up.
“Temporary” could well be weeks or months, but I really need to get ahead of the writing schedule and build up my post-production period (the time from writing “the end” on the draft to release date) to 26 weeks, in order to take advantage of promotions on the retail booksites…and take pressure off me.
- Commit to the austerity and hard work needed to catch up.
This is the critical step. The others all mix up together. For example: Revising my publishing schedule might not be needed, but I won’t know until I build a temporary catch-up writing schedule. The catch-up writing schedule might not be needed if I can rebuild the publishing schedule. And both of them depend upon if I can free up extra time.
But once I’ve figured that out, I need to commit to doing it.
Committing will be easier to do if I have an idea of how long I have to double down and sprint. So part of what I’ll be doing while figuring this all out, is to cut back the severity of the effort required as quickly as possible. That will happen in stages, I think. But I can’t white-knuckle my way through marathon sprints for more that a few weeks without burning myself out.
Perhaps I’ll have to do it HIIT style (High Intensity Interval Training)–a week or two of massive effort, then back to a normal schedule, or lesser effort for a few weeks, while I recover my breath, and cycle through those phases.
This re-setting of schedules and catching up mode is something we all face from time to time. If you can re-set quickly enough, the catch-up shouldn’t be too severe. But sometimes it might be.
It is important to not feel guilty about not hitting every single one of your writing goals, or not writing exactly when your schedule said you would (that’s a perfectionist’s trap).
And don’t resent having to re-set and catch up, either.
Instead, accept the hard work ahead of you, and recommit to your (new) goals.
I find myself resetting and recovering more frequently than I’d like because I’m really bad at resisting Resistance. I get distracted all the time. That’s partly why I write this blog–public accountability is a fantastic motivator. I started off this year wanting to learn how to be more consistent in my efforts. Consistency is a key to high levels of productivity.
That means rebuilding my defenses against Resistance and re-learning how to Just Start, because in the last few weeks, thanks to life rolls and massive changes in my personal life, I’ve let Resistance win too often, which has built up the habit of not-writing.
But first, I have to re-set.