Done, Done, Done For!

Cat 243 Dover by Mary Jo

Two weeks ago, I finished The Book That Would Not End, aka Nowhere Near Respectable, aka Lost Lords 3 (scheduled for May 2011 and featuring Mackenzie, if you were wondering.)

We’ve all experienced huge, life consuming projects, from studying for final exams to writing a PhD dissertation to getting the house perfect for the first visit of the new in-laws.  Finishing a book has its own particular crazies, so I thought I’d list some of them. A few of these may be peculiar to me, others include many, perhaps even most, other writers:

Process, Part 1:

Quill and ink     **There are some writers who work consistently through a book, finishing long enough before deadline to let it sit and mulch a bit before final read through and submission.  We don’t talk about creatures like them. <g>

**Many, perhaps most, writers perform best when deadlines are lethally close.  I think this kicks the mental editor to the curb and allows us to finish a book running on sheer screaming adrenaline.  Unfortunately, it seems that the longer one writes, the closer one has to get to the deadline in order to panic the muse into real productivity. 

The Muse and other madness:

220px-Muse_reading_Louvre_CA2220 **In my experience, most writers are hardwired for their creative process. We may be able to do minor modifications, but we are largely stuck with the one we’re born with, whether it’s slow and meticulous or ricocheting rewrites.  (I knew one writer of Loveswepts who had a great and exciting day job, but once or twice a year, she'd barricade herself in her house and write like a madwoman for two or three weeks, living off of pizza deliveries and letting her hygiene slip.  Wrote great books, too.) 

**Corollary: whatever creative process you’re born with, you will be convinced that everyone you know has a better, less painful process.

**The first part of a book generally goes more slowly because there are so many decisions to be made about the setting and the characters.  What year are you? Where is the story set?  If you’re in London, where is the house located?  What season of the year is it, and how does that affect the story?  Are there servants, and if so, are they invisible wallpaper, or do they have distinct personalities and stories of their own?  (Like Wharf, Adam’s valet in 400px-Brooks%27s Loving a Lost Lord. He was not planned.  But it was nice when he showed up.) 

**Whose story is this?  Which of the protagonists changes more and needs to have a larger share of the POV?  It isn’t always the person you think it will be.  Though the book I just completed was inspired by the roguish charm of the hero, I ended up spending more time in the pov of the energetic, confident young heroine who found herself discovering unexpected new worlds. 

**For me, there are long spells of time when the story just sort of lies there like a wet rag.  I look at it, it looks at me.  We limp along.  1000 words a day is a very good day, seldom achieved. 

B-BookStackCoffee Then deadline panic sets in somewhere around the middle of the book.  A lot of the story decisions have been made, the approximate path to the end is visible, and I HAVE TO GET THIS FREAKING BOOK DONE BEFORE MY EDITOR BLOCKS MY E-MAIL AND MY CAREER IS OVER!!!!!!!!  The last day of NNR, I wrote over 4000 words.  Would that I could do that all the time! 

Editors:

**That said, I’ve had a lot of terrific editors in my career, and most of them understand how to work with the volatile and often neurotic beasts known as authors.  As my first editor, Hilary Ross, once told me, she could insist on the exact deadline and probably get a book that was okay. Or, if the author needed a little more time, give the author the extra time and get a better book.  (Hilary is the editor who said with rapier accuracy that I “always delivered in a timely fashion, in a latish sort of way.” <g>  Still true!)

The Overfilled Brain:

Cat--fluffy 339 Dober **During the early part of a book, when there’s not much creative flow, it’s easy to catch up on other things that need doing.  Get new glasses, visit the dentist, go away for the weekend.  Then the terror switch flips and everything except The Book is jettisoned. 

Cat head-on 324 Dover **You want to sleep a little late in the morning because a cat has come and curled up beside you, purring?  No can do, The Book is waiting.

**You want to get a good night’s sleep so you can work better the next day, but you can’t because The !#$%&* Book has taken over your mind and is filling your thoughts and dreams ALL THE TIME. 

**You want to try an interesting new recipe that a friend sent you?  File it until after The Book is done.

Vegetable beef barley soup **Want to have lunch? Forget it unless your friend is willing to come to your house and have soup, then be thrown out as soon as the coffee is finished.

**Speaking of the soup, during the final crash of The Book, I live out of myr freezer.  An appliance that is usually packed gradually develops echoing caverns of emptiness.  I like making huge quantities of soup and freezing in quart (three servings) containers. 

When finishing The Book, I pull them out for lunch and sometimes dinner.  The major thought involved is remembering to thaw different varieties, so Portuguese potato kale is followed by cockaleekie is followed by lentil tomato, etc.  There is also the prepared food section of my local grocery story.

**When I ride in my car, I no longer listen to NPR because there is no room in my head for other people's words.  Music is good, though.  As long as it doesn't have words.  <G>

Process, Part 2:

Bath Royal Crescent **At least once toward the end of every book, I sit down with a yellow lined tablet (letter size) and a blue Flair pen. (Ritual is very important in these matters.)  Then I list the events that have to happen before the end of the book, and I work out what sequence  they’ll have to follow.  This is the essence of plotting: hunting through all the squishy, amorphous possibilities, then hammering them into a sturdy structure.

**Plotting was my problem with NNR.  No problem with the characters—they were vivid and well-defined from the beginning.  The early events in the book were also clear and dramatic. 

Plotting: aka Falling Off The Cliff:

800px-Ireland_cliffs_of_moher2 Then the story careened over a cliff.  My synopsis had been pretty much a matter of “And then they go to Bath and Stuff Happens.”  Except that when I hit that point, I realized that Bath was boring and the story as currently structured didn’t have the hero and heroine together enough.  I.e, it wasn’t going to work. I was doomed!!!

So I had to figure out something that would work, and it was a slow process.  Rather like carving granite with a butter knife.  There were long spells when I wasn’t sure how or even if I’d make it to the end.  When I finally stumbled over the finish line, I realized that, amazingly, The Book actually worked. 

**Conclusion: Even though your basic process may be hard wired in, each particular book offers a whole new way to make you nuts. 

**Conclusion 2: When a brain has been so thoroughly rode hard and put away wet, it does NOT want to immediately dive into another book with a killer deadline.  (Do not tell my YA editor how I know this…)

So how does your brain handle crazed deadlines?  What kind of projects have sent you careening in circles, fearing a crash and burn—and yet, miraculously, working out at the end? As the theater manager said in Shakespeare in Love when he talks about how a play comes together: “It’s a mystery.”

Labyrinth 3 Explain how you navigate the creative maze!

Mary Jo, adding that she knows this is actually a labyrinth, not a maze.

110 thoughts on “Done, Done, Done For!”

  1. As a teacher I’d have to say that the project that sends me into a tailspin is the dreaded report cards. Three times a year I think I have weeks and weeks and so I do nothing. That last week is a killer. My husband doesn’t eat, my house doesn’t get cleaned, and God help us all if the computers decide to become tempermental! For all the stress I usually manage to get the cards on the principal’s desk the day before the deadline, but it’s a struggle. The funny thing is that each time I vow that next term will be different and it never is. This year I’ll be better prepared. This year will be different. Where have I heard that before….?

    Reply
  2. As a teacher I’d have to say that the project that sends me into a tailspin is the dreaded report cards. Three times a year I think I have weeks and weeks and so I do nothing. That last week is a killer. My husband doesn’t eat, my house doesn’t get cleaned, and God help us all if the computers decide to become tempermental! For all the stress I usually manage to get the cards on the principal’s desk the day before the deadline, but it’s a struggle. The funny thing is that each time I vow that next term will be different and it never is. This year I’ll be better prepared. This year will be different. Where have I heard that before….?

    Reply
  3. As a teacher I’d have to say that the project that sends me into a tailspin is the dreaded report cards. Three times a year I think I have weeks and weeks and so I do nothing. That last week is a killer. My husband doesn’t eat, my house doesn’t get cleaned, and God help us all if the computers decide to become tempermental! For all the stress I usually manage to get the cards on the principal’s desk the day before the deadline, but it’s a struggle. The funny thing is that each time I vow that next term will be different and it never is. This year I’ll be better prepared. This year will be different. Where have I heard that before….?

    Reply
  4. As a teacher I’d have to say that the project that sends me into a tailspin is the dreaded report cards. Three times a year I think I have weeks and weeks and so I do nothing. That last week is a killer. My husband doesn’t eat, my house doesn’t get cleaned, and God help us all if the computers decide to become tempermental! For all the stress I usually manage to get the cards on the principal’s desk the day before the deadline, but it’s a struggle. The funny thing is that each time I vow that next term will be different and it never is. This year I’ll be better prepared. This year will be different. Where have I heard that before….?

    Reply
  5. As a teacher I’d have to say that the project that sends me into a tailspin is the dreaded report cards. Three times a year I think I have weeks and weeks and so I do nothing. That last week is a killer. My husband doesn’t eat, my house doesn’t get cleaned, and God help us all if the computers decide to become tempermental! For all the stress I usually manage to get the cards on the principal’s desk the day before the deadline, but it’s a struggle. The funny thing is that each time I vow that next term will be different and it never is. This year I’ll be better prepared. This year will be different. Where have I heard that before….?

    Reply
  6. From MJP:
    Jana, you had me laughing. The report card process sounds EXACTLY like the finishing-a-book-process–including the oaths that next time will be DIFFERENT!
    Gram–finishing a book is tortuous,but as Jana can attest, many things are. We writers are just particularly articulate at proclaiming the difficulties. *g*

    Reply
  7. From MJP:
    Jana, you had me laughing. The report card process sounds EXACTLY like the finishing-a-book-process–including the oaths that next time will be DIFFERENT!
    Gram–finishing a book is tortuous,but as Jana can attest, many things are. We writers are just particularly articulate at proclaiming the difficulties. *g*

    Reply
  8. From MJP:
    Jana, you had me laughing. The report card process sounds EXACTLY like the finishing-a-book-process–including the oaths that next time will be DIFFERENT!
    Gram–finishing a book is tortuous,but as Jana can attest, many things are. We writers are just particularly articulate at proclaiming the difficulties. *g*

    Reply
  9. From MJP:
    Jana, you had me laughing. The report card process sounds EXACTLY like the finishing-a-book-process–including the oaths that next time will be DIFFERENT!
    Gram–finishing a book is tortuous,but as Jana can attest, many things are. We writers are just particularly articulate at proclaiming the difficulties. *g*

    Reply
  10. From MJP:
    Jana, you had me laughing. The report card process sounds EXACTLY like the finishing-a-book-process–including the oaths that next time will be DIFFERENT!
    Gram–finishing a book is tortuous,but as Jana can attest, many things are. We writers are just particularly articulate at proclaiming the difficulties. *g*

    Reply
  11. There goes the fantasy that if one could just write enough wonderful, perfectly plotted books one would eventually get to a state where the process wouldn’t be such a struggle.
    But I really appreciate your honesty and the way you illuminate way the process works for you.

    Reply
  12. There goes the fantasy that if one could just write enough wonderful, perfectly plotted books one would eventually get to a state where the process wouldn’t be such a struggle.
    But I really appreciate your honesty and the way you illuminate way the process works for you.

    Reply
  13. There goes the fantasy that if one could just write enough wonderful, perfectly plotted books one would eventually get to a state where the process wouldn’t be such a struggle.
    But I really appreciate your honesty and the way you illuminate way the process works for you.

    Reply
  14. There goes the fantasy that if one could just write enough wonderful, perfectly plotted books one would eventually get to a state where the process wouldn’t be such a struggle.
    But I really appreciate your honesty and the way you illuminate way the process works for you.

    Reply
  15. There goes the fantasy that if one could just write enough wonderful, perfectly plotted books one would eventually get to a state where the process wouldn’t be such a struggle.
    But I really appreciate your honesty and the way you illuminate way the process works for you.

    Reply
  16. From MJP:
    Darn, Jenny, I didn’t mean to destroy your illusions! I will say that the things I struggle with now are not the same as the ones I struggled with originally. In other words, I’ve progressed to a higher level of moaning and gnashing of teeth. *G*

    Reply
  17. From MJP:
    Darn, Jenny, I didn’t mean to destroy your illusions! I will say that the things I struggle with now are not the same as the ones I struggled with originally. In other words, I’ve progressed to a higher level of moaning and gnashing of teeth. *G*

    Reply
  18. From MJP:
    Darn, Jenny, I didn’t mean to destroy your illusions! I will say that the things I struggle with now are not the same as the ones I struggled with originally. In other words, I’ve progressed to a higher level of moaning and gnashing of teeth. *G*

    Reply
  19. From MJP:
    Darn, Jenny, I didn’t mean to destroy your illusions! I will say that the things I struggle with now are not the same as the ones I struggled with originally. In other words, I’ve progressed to a higher level of moaning and gnashing of teeth. *G*

    Reply
  20. From MJP:
    Darn, Jenny, I didn’t mean to destroy your illusions! I will say that the things I struggle with now are not the same as the ones I struggled with originally. In other words, I’ve progressed to a higher level of moaning and gnashing of teeth. *G*

    Reply
  21. An author would have to be an automaton before they could produce regularly and skillfully without pulling hair and slitting wrists. My process is that I have no process. I can’t handle stress, so I always strive to be early. But even on those books where I merrily pour words by the thousands on the page at the beginning, by the middle, I’m banging my head.
    The brain is a mystery.
    It would be interesting to hear how others handle stressful situations!

    Reply
  22. An author would have to be an automaton before they could produce regularly and skillfully without pulling hair and slitting wrists. My process is that I have no process. I can’t handle stress, so I always strive to be early. But even on those books where I merrily pour words by the thousands on the page at the beginning, by the middle, I’m banging my head.
    The brain is a mystery.
    It would be interesting to hear how others handle stressful situations!

    Reply
  23. An author would have to be an automaton before they could produce regularly and skillfully without pulling hair and slitting wrists. My process is that I have no process. I can’t handle stress, so I always strive to be early. But even on those books where I merrily pour words by the thousands on the page at the beginning, by the middle, I’m banging my head.
    The brain is a mystery.
    It would be interesting to hear how others handle stressful situations!

    Reply
  24. An author would have to be an automaton before they could produce regularly and skillfully without pulling hair and slitting wrists. My process is that I have no process. I can’t handle stress, so I always strive to be early. But even on those books where I merrily pour words by the thousands on the page at the beginning, by the middle, I’m banging my head.
    The brain is a mystery.
    It would be interesting to hear how others handle stressful situations!

    Reply
  25. An author would have to be an automaton before they could produce regularly and skillfully without pulling hair and slitting wrists. My process is that I have no process. I can’t handle stress, so I always strive to be early. But even on those books where I merrily pour words by the thousands on the page at the beginning, by the middle, I’m banging my head.
    The brain is a mystery.
    It would be interesting to hear how others handle stressful situations!

    Reply
  26. I work in a bakery so a deadline to me comes 3 times a year. Thanksgiving, Xmas, and Easter..I have to do weeks of preparation.. I try not to leave anything last minute, of course I have a ‘pain in the a**’ folder for the last minutes orders someone’s 4th cousin forgot to order. When those days roll around I am calm and collected and gather the troops for a pep talk and send them on their way.

    Reply
  27. I work in a bakery so a deadline to me comes 3 times a year. Thanksgiving, Xmas, and Easter..I have to do weeks of preparation.. I try not to leave anything last minute, of course I have a ‘pain in the a**’ folder for the last minutes orders someone’s 4th cousin forgot to order. When those days roll around I am calm and collected and gather the troops for a pep talk and send them on their way.

    Reply
  28. I work in a bakery so a deadline to me comes 3 times a year. Thanksgiving, Xmas, and Easter..I have to do weeks of preparation.. I try not to leave anything last minute, of course I have a ‘pain in the a**’ folder for the last minutes orders someone’s 4th cousin forgot to order. When those days roll around I am calm and collected and gather the troops for a pep talk and send them on their way.

    Reply
  29. I work in a bakery so a deadline to me comes 3 times a year. Thanksgiving, Xmas, and Easter..I have to do weeks of preparation.. I try not to leave anything last minute, of course I have a ‘pain in the a**’ folder for the last minutes orders someone’s 4th cousin forgot to order. When those days roll around I am calm and collected and gather the troops for a pep talk and send them on their way.

    Reply
  30. I work in a bakery so a deadline to me comes 3 times a year. Thanksgiving, Xmas, and Easter..I have to do weeks of preparation.. I try not to leave anything last minute, of course I have a ‘pain in the a**’ folder for the last minutes orders someone’s 4th cousin forgot to order. When those days roll around I am calm and collected and gather the troops for a pep talk and send them on their way.

    Reply
  31. Hey Mary Jo!
    Love it when you share your writing “process.” Makes me feel so much better knowing I’m not alone on that granite cliff, butter knife in hand. It really does feel like that sometimes.
    Nina

    Reply
  32. Hey Mary Jo!
    Love it when you share your writing “process.” Makes me feel so much better knowing I’m not alone on that granite cliff, butter knife in hand. It really does feel like that sometimes.
    Nina

    Reply
  33. Hey Mary Jo!
    Love it when you share your writing “process.” Makes me feel so much better knowing I’m not alone on that granite cliff, butter knife in hand. It really does feel like that sometimes.
    Nina

    Reply
  34. Hey Mary Jo!
    Love it when you share your writing “process.” Makes me feel so much better knowing I’m not alone on that granite cliff, butter knife in hand. It really does feel like that sometimes.
    Nina

    Reply
  35. Hey Mary Jo!
    Love it when you share your writing “process.” Makes me feel so much better knowing I’m not alone on that granite cliff, butter knife in hand. It really does feel like that sometimes.
    Nina

    Reply
  36. Perfect timing. I am reading this as I stand poised on the cliff that is “the black moment” and the mayhem that follows. I have given my agent a specific deadline that she will have this supposed masterpiece in her red pen wielding hands. What was I thinking??? My critique partner IM’s, e-mails and / or calls me at least once a day to ask “Exactly how many more pages are we saying will finish this?”
    Great question. Wish I had an answer for her.
    Thanks for sharing your process, Mary Jo. I feel a bit better about myself knowing I am not the only person who putters along and then panics like a matchmaking mama when she hears there is only one unmarried peer left in the county.
    And I too pull out the old pen and legal pad, although I have switched to index cards with this last book, to outline what absolutely has to happen for this book to finally come to an end.
    I am off in search of a butter knife. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  37. Perfect timing. I am reading this as I stand poised on the cliff that is “the black moment” and the mayhem that follows. I have given my agent a specific deadline that she will have this supposed masterpiece in her red pen wielding hands. What was I thinking??? My critique partner IM’s, e-mails and / or calls me at least once a day to ask “Exactly how many more pages are we saying will finish this?”
    Great question. Wish I had an answer for her.
    Thanks for sharing your process, Mary Jo. I feel a bit better about myself knowing I am not the only person who putters along and then panics like a matchmaking mama when she hears there is only one unmarried peer left in the county.
    And I too pull out the old pen and legal pad, although I have switched to index cards with this last book, to outline what absolutely has to happen for this book to finally come to an end.
    I am off in search of a butter knife. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  38. Perfect timing. I am reading this as I stand poised on the cliff that is “the black moment” and the mayhem that follows. I have given my agent a specific deadline that she will have this supposed masterpiece in her red pen wielding hands. What was I thinking??? My critique partner IM’s, e-mails and / or calls me at least once a day to ask “Exactly how many more pages are we saying will finish this?”
    Great question. Wish I had an answer for her.
    Thanks for sharing your process, Mary Jo. I feel a bit better about myself knowing I am not the only person who putters along and then panics like a matchmaking mama when she hears there is only one unmarried peer left in the county.
    And I too pull out the old pen and legal pad, although I have switched to index cards with this last book, to outline what absolutely has to happen for this book to finally come to an end.
    I am off in search of a butter knife. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  39. Perfect timing. I am reading this as I stand poised on the cliff that is “the black moment” and the mayhem that follows. I have given my agent a specific deadline that she will have this supposed masterpiece in her red pen wielding hands. What was I thinking??? My critique partner IM’s, e-mails and / or calls me at least once a day to ask “Exactly how many more pages are we saying will finish this?”
    Great question. Wish I had an answer for her.
    Thanks for sharing your process, Mary Jo. I feel a bit better about myself knowing I am not the only person who putters along and then panics like a matchmaking mama when she hears there is only one unmarried peer left in the county.
    And I too pull out the old pen and legal pad, although I have switched to index cards with this last book, to outline what absolutely has to happen for this book to finally come to an end.
    I am off in search of a butter knife. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  40. Perfect timing. I am reading this as I stand poised on the cliff that is “the black moment” and the mayhem that follows. I have given my agent a specific deadline that she will have this supposed masterpiece in her red pen wielding hands. What was I thinking??? My critique partner IM’s, e-mails and / or calls me at least once a day to ask “Exactly how many more pages are we saying will finish this?”
    Great question. Wish I had an answer for her.
    Thanks for sharing your process, Mary Jo. I feel a bit better about myself knowing I am not the only person who putters along and then panics like a matchmaking mama when she hears there is only one unmarried peer left in the county.
    And I too pull out the old pen and legal pad, although I have switched to index cards with this last book, to outline what absolutely has to happen for this book to finally come to an end.
    I am off in search of a butter knife. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  41. Mary Jo this is scarily–but also comfortingly–like my own process. Except for the fact that my friends are not allowed in the house for soup or anything else, because by that stage my housework has slipped into the embarrassing phase, so it’s just a phone call for friends, nothing else. And promises for the future.
    Like Jana, I vow each time that next time it’s going to be different, (and I was the same with reports) but as you say, each book brings its own unique problems and challenges. And then there’s life, throwing us in the deep end occasionally, too.
    But it’s also a pretty amazing feeling when the book has gone in and you realize that the impossible book has been written. So congratulations.

    Reply
  42. Mary Jo this is scarily–but also comfortingly–like my own process. Except for the fact that my friends are not allowed in the house for soup or anything else, because by that stage my housework has slipped into the embarrassing phase, so it’s just a phone call for friends, nothing else. And promises for the future.
    Like Jana, I vow each time that next time it’s going to be different, (and I was the same with reports) but as you say, each book brings its own unique problems and challenges. And then there’s life, throwing us in the deep end occasionally, too.
    But it’s also a pretty amazing feeling when the book has gone in and you realize that the impossible book has been written. So congratulations.

    Reply
  43. Mary Jo this is scarily–but also comfortingly–like my own process. Except for the fact that my friends are not allowed in the house for soup or anything else, because by that stage my housework has slipped into the embarrassing phase, so it’s just a phone call for friends, nothing else. And promises for the future.
    Like Jana, I vow each time that next time it’s going to be different, (and I was the same with reports) but as you say, each book brings its own unique problems and challenges. And then there’s life, throwing us in the deep end occasionally, too.
    But it’s also a pretty amazing feeling when the book has gone in and you realize that the impossible book has been written. So congratulations.

    Reply
  44. Mary Jo this is scarily–but also comfortingly–like my own process. Except for the fact that my friends are not allowed in the house for soup or anything else, because by that stage my housework has slipped into the embarrassing phase, so it’s just a phone call for friends, nothing else. And promises for the future.
    Like Jana, I vow each time that next time it’s going to be different, (and I was the same with reports) but as you say, each book brings its own unique problems and challenges. And then there’s life, throwing us in the deep end occasionally, too.
    But it’s also a pretty amazing feeling when the book has gone in and you realize that the impossible book has been written. So congratulations.

    Reply
  45. Mary Jo this is scarily–but also comfortingly–like my own process. Except for the fact that my friends are not allowed in the house for soup or anything else, because by that stage my housework has slipped into the embarrassing phase, so it’s just a phone call for friends, nothing else. And promises for the future.
    Like Jana, I vow each time that next time it’s going to be different, (and I was the same with reports) but as you say, each book brings its own unique problems and challenges. And then there’s life, throwing us in the deep end occasionally, too.
    But it’s also a pretty amazing feeling when the book has gone in and you realize that the impossible book has been written. So congratulations.

    Reply
  46. From MJP:
    Louisa, you are definitely not the only one on that cliff! Some stories just have a lot to say for themselves. Hand in there–it WILL be done eventually! Best of luck on reaching the finish line sooner rather than later…

    Reply
  47. From MJP:
    Louisa, you are definitely not the only one on that cliff! Some stories just have a lot to say for themselves. Hand in there–it WILL be done eventually! Best of luck on reaching the finish line sooner rather than later…

    Reply
  48. From MJP:
    Louisa, you are definitely not the only one on that cliff! Some stories just have a lot to say for themselves. Hand in there–it WILL be done eventually! Best of luck on reaching the finish line sooner rather than later…

    Reply
  49. From MJP:
    Louisa, you are definitely not the only one on that cliff! Some stories just have a lot to say for themselves. Hand in there–it WILL be done eventually! Best of luck on reaching the finish line sooner rather than later…

    Reply
  50. From MJP:
    Louisa, you are definitely not the only one on that cliff! Some stories just have a lot to say for themselves. Hand in there–it WILL be done eventually! Best of luck on reaching the finish line sooner rather than later…

    Reply
  51. Anne–wisely, few friends actually would take me up on the soup. They tend to stay a safe distance from the crazed writer-critter. *g*
    Several of us Wenches dispatched Endless Books recently, and yes, it’s a FABULOUS feeling!
    And always leaves me hoping that maybe I can write this fast in the beginning of the next book, but now, that never happens…

    Reply
  52. Anne–wisely, few friends actually would take me up on the soup. They tend to stay a safe distance from the crazed writer-critter. *g*
    Several of us Wenches dispatched Endless Books recently, and yes, it’s a FABULOUS feeling!
    And always leaves me hoping that maybe I can write this fast in the beginning of the next book, but now, that never happens…

    Reply
  53. Anne–wisely, few friends actually would take me up on the soup. They tend to stay a safe distance from the crazed writer-critter. *g*
    Several of us Wenches dispatched Endless Books recently, and yes, it’s a FABULOUS feeling!
    And always leaves me hoping that maybe I can write this fast in the beginning of the next book, but now, that never happens…

    Reply
  54. Anne–wisely, few friends actually would take me up on the soup. They tend to stay a safe distance from the crazed writer-critter. *g*
    Several of us Wenches dispatched Endless Books recently, and yes, it’s a FABULOUS feeling!
    And always leaves me hoping that maybe I can write this fast in the beginning of the next book, but now, that never happens…

    Reply
  55. Anne–wisely, few friends actually would take me up on the soup. They tend to stay a safe distance from the crazed writer-critter. *g*
    Several of us Wenches dispatched Endless Books recently, and yes, it’s a FABULOUS feeling!
    And always leaves me hoping that maybe I can write this fast in the beginning of the next book, but now, that never happens…

    Reply
  56. I’m not a writer but I do have deadlines for projects/standard reports at work. My brain doesn’t seem to work unless I have a deadline — do not tell me to rewrite a policy, tell me to rewrite a policy by the end of the month. Otherwise everything else seems to take priority, I woolgather (looked it up, it’s an authentic Regency word), I spend inordinate amounts of time on the format rather than the content. When I have a specific deadline I focus and the project magically, after many overtime hours, gets done. Drives my husband crazy, as he’s always been very organized, writes outlines, plans his time carefully, and gets cranky when unexpected glitches or demands mess up his project timelines. Probably explains why he was Phi Beta Kappa and I was not, but I do think MJP is correct that this is one of those things hardwired into our psyches and next to impossible to change.
    As for reducing stress when faced with upcoming deadlines:
    1. Drink a glass of good wine
    2. Have brunch with friends
    3. Drink another glass of wine
    4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy
    5. Drink another glass of wine
    6. Work lots of overtime
    7. Drink another glass of wine
    8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care

    Reply
  57. I’m not a writer but I do have deadlines for projects/standard reports at work. My brain doesn’t seem to work unless I have a deadline — do not tell me to rewrite a policy, tell me to rewrite a policy by the end of the month. Otherwise everything else seems to take priority, I woolgather (looked it up, it’s an authentic Regency word), I spend inordinate amounts of time on the format rather than the content. When I have a specific deadline I focus and the project magically, after many overtime hours, gets done. Drives my husband crazy, as he’s always been very organized, writes outlines, plans his time carefully, and gets cranky when unexpected glitches or demands mess up his project timelines. Probably explains why he was Phi Beta Kappa and I was not, but I do think MJP is correct that this is one of those things hardwired into our psyches and next to impossible to change.
    As for reducing stress when faced with upcoming deadlines:
    1. Drink a glass of good wine
    2. Have brunch with friends
    3. Drink another glass of wine
    4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy
    5. Drink another glass of wine
    6. Work lots of overtime
    7. Drink another glass of wine
    8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care

    Reply
  58. I’m not a writer but I do have deadlines for projects/standard reports at work. My brain doesn’t seem to work unless I have a deadline — do not tell me to rewrite a policy, tell me to rewrite a policy by the end of the month. Otherwise everything else seems to take priority, I woolgather (looked it up, it’s an authentic Regency word), I spend inordinate amounts of time on the format rather than the content. When I have a specific deadline I focus and the project magically, after many overtime hours, gets done. Drives my husband crazy, as he’s always been very organized, writes outlines, plans his time carefully, and gets cranky when unexpected glitches or demands mess up his project timelines. Probably explains why he was Phi Beta Kappa and I was not, but I do think MJP is correct that this is one of those things hardwired into our psyches and next to impossible to change.
    As for reducing stress when faced with upcoming deadlines:
    1. Drink a glass of good wine
    2. Have brunch with friends
    3. Drink another glass of wine
    4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy
    5. Drink another glass of wine
    6. Work lots of overtime
    7. Drink another glass of wine
    8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care

    Reply
  59. I’m not a writer but I do have deadlines for projects/standard reports at work. My brain doesn’t seem to work unless I have a deadline — do not tell me to rewrite a policy, tell me to rewrite a policy by the end of the month. Otherwise everything else seems to take priority, I woolgather (looked it up, it’s an authentic Regency word), I spend inordinate amounts of time on the format rather than the content. When I have a specific deadline I focus and the project magically, after many overtime hours, gets done. Drives my husband crazy, as he’s always been very organized, writes outlines, plans his time carefully, and gets cranky when unexpected glitches or demands mess up his project timelines. Probably explains why he was Phi Beta Kappa and I was not, but I do think MJP is correct that this is one of those things hardwired into our psyches and next to impossible to change.
    As for reducing stress when faced with upcoming deadlines:
    1. Drink a glass of good wine
    2. Have brunch with friends
    3. Drink another glass of wine
    4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy
    5. Drink another glass of wine
    6. Work lots of overtime
    7. Drink another glass of wine
    8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care

    Reply
  60. I’m not a writer but I do have deadlines for projects/standard reports at work. My brain doesn’t seem to work unless I have a deadline — do not tell me to rewrite a policy, tell me to rewrite a policy by the end of the month. Otherwise everything else seems to take priority, I woolgather (looked it up, it’s an authentic Regency word), I spend inordinate amounts of time on the format rather than the content. When I have a specific deadline I focus and the project magically, after many overtime hours, gets done. Drives my husband crazy, as he’s always been very organized, writes outlines, plans his time carefully, and gets cranky when unexpected glitches or demands mess up his project timelines. Probably explains why he was Phi Beta Kappa and I was not, but I do think MJP is correct that this is one of those things hardwired into our psyches and next to impossible to change.
    As for reducing stress when faced with upcoming deadlines:
    1. Drink a glass of good wine
    2. Have brunch with friends
    3. Drink another glass of wine
    4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy
    5. Drink another glass of wine
    6. Work lots of overtime
    7. Drink another glass of wine
    8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care

    Reply
  61. +++1. Drink a glass of good wine 2. Have brunch with friends 3. Drink another glass of wine 4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy 5. Drink another glass of wine 6. Work lots of overtime 7. Drink another glass of wine 8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care +++
    LOL, Susan/DC. YOu’re right–the process is exactly the same whether it’s reports, report cards, or books. Deadlines give the essential structure that most of us need to complete a project. (Even my first book was written to make a deadline since I sold it on a partial. For me–no deadline, no book. *g*)

    Reply
  62. +++1. Drink a glass of good wine 2. Have brunch with friends 3. Drink another glass of wine 4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy 5. Drink another glass of wine 6. Work lots of overtime 7. Drink another glass of wine 8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care +++
    LOL, Susan/DC. YOu’re right–the process is exactly the same whether it’s reports, report cards, or books. Deadlines give the essential structure that most of us need to complete a project. (Even my first book was written to make a deadline since I sold it on a partial. For me–no deadline, no book. *g*)

    Reply
  63. +++1. Drink a glass of good wine 2. Have brunch with friends 3. Drink another glass of wine 4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy 5. Drink another glass of wine 6. Work lots of overtime 7. Drink another glass of wine 8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care +++
    LOL, Susan/DC. YOu’re right–the process is exactly the same whether it’s reports, report cards, or books. Deadlines give the essential structure that most of us need to complete a project. (Even my first book was written to make a deadline since I sold it on a partial. For me–no deadline, no book. *g*)

    Reply
  64. +++1. Drink a glass of good wine 2. Have brunch with friends 3. Drink another glass of wine 4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy 5. Drink another glass of wine 6. Work lots of overtime 7. Drink another glass of wine 8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care +++
    LOL, Susan/DC. YOu’re right–the process is exactly the same whether it’s reports, report cards, or books. Deadlines give the essential structure that most of us need to complete a project. (Even my first book was written to make a deadline since I sold it on a partial. For me–no deadline, no book. *g*)

    Reply
  65. +++1. Drink a glass of good wine 2. Have brunch with friends 3. Drink another glass of wine 4. Watch a light, frothy romantic comedy 5. Drink another glass of wine 6. Work lots of overtime 7. Drink another glass of wine 8. By this time I’m still stressed but don’t care +++
    LOL, Susan/DC. YOu’re right–the process is exactly the same whether it’s reports, report cards, or books. Deadlines give the essential structure that most of us need to complete a project. (Even my first book was written to make a deadline since I sold it on a partial. For me–no deadline, no book. *g*)

    Reply
  66. Man, you do not know how much I kept nodding my head with everything you wrote. I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash at one point, I nodded so hard in recognition of myself.
    I swear my middle name is Procrastination, but some crazy deadline that’s FO’ REAL and suddenly I’m churning out pages like Charles Dickens. If *I’m* the deadline, no such deal. I know I’m not going to do anything to myself to truly punish it, like make it eat broccoli all week at every meal or something.

    Reply
  67. Man, you do not know how much I kept nodding my head with everything you wrote. I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash at one point, I nodded so hard in recognition of myself.
    I swear my middle name is Procrastination, but some crazy deadline that’s FO’ REAL and suddenly I’m churning out pages like Charles Dickens. If *I’m* the deadline, no such deal. I know I’m not going to do anything to myself to truly punish it, like make it eat broccoli all week at every meal or something.

    Reply
  68. Man, you do not know how much I kept nodding my head with everything you wrote. I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash at one point, I nodded so hard in recognition of myself.
    I swear my middle name is Procrastination, but some crazy deadline that’s FO’ REAL and suddenly I’m churning out pages like Charles Dickens. If *I’m* the deadline, no such deal. I know I’m not going to do anything to myself to truly punish it, like make it eat broccoli all week at every meal or something.

    Reply
  69. Man, you do not know how much I kept nodding my head with everything you wrote. I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash at one point, I nodded so hard in recognition of myself.
    I swear my middle name is Procrastination, but some crazy deadline that’s FO’ REAL and suddenly I’m churning out pages like Charles Dickens. If *I’m* the deadline, no such deal. I know I’m not going to do anything to myself to truly punish it, like make it eat broccoli all week at every meal or something.

    Reply
  70. Man, you do not know how much I kept nodding my head with everything you wrote. I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash at one point, I nodded so hard in recognition of myself.
    I swear my middle name is Procrastination, but some crazy deadline that’s FO’ REAL and suddenly I’m churning out pages like Charles Dickens. If *I’m* the deadline, no such deal. I know I’m not going to do anything to myself to truly punish it, like make it eat broccoli all week at every meal or something.

    Reply
  71. I don’t know how you survive. I hope your blood pressure doesn’t go into overdrive and you explode. Please don’t explode. *We* wouldn’t survive without you.
    I’m not a procrastinator. I do things in general when I get them. If I do have a deadline, I make sure I do the bulk of the work up front. Like NaNoWriMo, the only way I can survive is to bulk up at the beginning, so you end before Thanksgiving. Not that my NaNoWriMo book is much good–it’s 50,000+ words, and not very good ones, either, but they’re there! All(!) I have to do now is edit and expand.

    Reply
  72. I don’t know how you survive. I hope your blood pressure doesn’t go into overdrive and you explode. Please don’t explode. *We* wouldn’t survive without you.
    I’m not a procrastinator. I do things in general when I get them. If I do have a deadline, I make sure I do the bulk of the work up front. Like NaNoWriMo, the only way I can survive is to bulk up at the beginning, so you end before Thanksgiving. Not that my NaNoWriMo book is much good–it’s 50,000+ words, and not very good ones, either, but they’re there! All(!) I have to do now is edit and expand.

    Reply
  73. I don’t know how you survive. I hope your blood pressure doesn’t go into overdrive and you explode. Please don’t explode. *We* wouldn’t survive without you.
    I’m not a procrastinator. I do things in general when I get them. If I do have a deadline, I make sure I do the bulk of the work up front. Like NaNoWriMo, the only way I can survive is to bulk up at the beginning, so you end before Thanksgiving. Not that my NaNoWriMo book is much good–it’s 50,000+ words, and not very good ones, either, but they’re there! All(!) I have to do now is edit and expand.

    Reply
  74. I don’t know how you survive. I hope your blood pressure doesn’t go into overdrive and you explode. Please don’t explode. *We* wouldn’t survive without you.
    I’m not a procrastinator. I do things in general when I get them. If I do have a deadline, I make sure I do the bulk of the work up front. Like NaNoWriMo, the only way I can survive is to bulk up at the beginning, so you end before Thanksgiving. Not that my NaNoWriMo book is much good–it’s 50,000+ words, and not very good ones, either, but they’re there! All(!) I have to do now is edit and expand.

    Reply
  75. I don’t know how you survive. I hope your blood pressure doesn’t go into overdrive and you explode. Please don’t explode. *We* wouldn’t survive without you.
    I’m not a procrastinator. I do things in general when I get them. If I do have a deadline, I make sure I do the bulk of the work up front. Like NaNoWriMo, the only way I can survive is to bulk up at the beginning, so you end before Thanksgiving. Not that my NaNoWriMo book is much good–it’s 50,000+ words, and not very good ones, either, but they’re there! All(!) I have to do now is edit and expand.

    Reply
  76. Thanks for the good thoughts, Linda. I won’t explode–but sometimes I do get cranky. *g*
    Congratulations on the 50K of NaNoWriMo! That’s a true accomplishment–and from what I hear from others who have done this, the words often turn out to be better than you think at first.

    Reply
  77. Thanks for the good thoughts, Linda. I won’t explode–but sometimes I do get cranky. *g*
    Congratulations on the 50K of NaNoWriMo! That’s a true accomplishment–and from what I hear from others who have done this, the words often turn out to be better than you think at first.

    Reply
  78. Thanks for the good thoughts, Linda. I won’t explode–but sometimes I do get cranky. *g*
    Congratulations on the 50K of NaNoWriMo! That’s a true accomplishment–and from what I hear from others who have done this, the words often turn out to be better than you think at first.

    Reply
  79. Thanks for the good thoughts, Linda. I won’t explode–but sometimes I do get cranky. *g*
    Congratulations on the 50K of NaNoWriMo! That’s a true accomplishment–and from what I hear from others who have done this, the words often turn out to be better than you think at first.

    Reply
  80. Thanks for the good thoughts, Linda. I won’t explode–but sometimes I do get cranky. *g*
    Congratulations on the 50K of NaNoWriMo! That’s a true accomplishment–and from what I hear from others who have done this, the words often turn out to be better than you think at first.

    Reply
  81. Thank you, Mary Jo, for making me laugh about The Process and for making me feel sane again. My somewhat wayward process – procrastination, followed by mad writing to meet the deadlne, followed by thrashing around to get the book into some sort of shape – is tiring but can also feel very lonely at times. I’ve learned that there’s no “right” way of writing. I jsut wish there was an easier way sometimes!

    Reply
  82. Thank you, Mary Jo, for making me laugh about The Process and for making me feel sane again. My somewhat wayward process – procrastination, followed by mad writing to meet the deadlne, followed by thrashing around to get the book into some sort of shape – is tiring but can also feel very lonely at times. I’ve learned that there’s no “right” way of writing. I jsut wish there was an easier way sometimes!

    Reply
  83. Thank you, Mary Jo, for making me laugh about The Process and for making me feel sane again. My somewhat wayward process – procrastination, followed by mad writing to meet the deadlne, followed by thrashing around to get the book into some sort of shape – is tiring but can also feel very lonely at times. I’ve learned that there’s no “right” way of writing. I jsut wish there was an easier way sometimes!

    Reply
  84. Thank you, Mary Jo, for making me laugh about The Process and for making me feel sane again. My somewhat wayward process – procrastination, followed by mad writing to meet the deadlne, followed by thrashing around to get the book into some sort of shape – is tiring but can also feel very lonely at times. I’ve learned that there’s no “right” way of writing. I jsut wish there was an easier way sometimes!

    Reply
  85. Thank you, Mary Jo, for making me laugh about The Process and for making me feel sane again. My somewhat wayward process – procrastination, followed by mad writing to meet the deadlne, followed by thrashing around to get the book into some sort of shape – is tiring but can also feel very lonely at times. I’ve learned that there’s no “right” way of writing. I jsut wish there was an easier way sometimes!

    Reply
  86. Thanks for the post. It is similar to what I’m currently going through. Only my 4th book but each one has been different. It’s very comforting to read that a writer so experienced (and so *good*)can be equally nuts.
    Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early…

    Reply
  87. Thanks for the post. It is similar to what I’m currently going through. Only my 4th book but each one has been different. It’s very comforting to read that a writer so experienced (and so *good*)can be equally nuts.
    Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early…

    Reply
  88. Thanks for the post. It is similar to what I’m currently going through. Only my 4th book but each one has been different. It’s very comforting to read that a writer so experienced (and so *good*)can be equally nuts.
    Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early…

    Reply
  89. Thanks for the post. It is similar to what I’m currently going through. Only my 4th book but each one has been different. It’s very comforting to read that a writer so experienced (and so *good*)can be equally nuts.
    Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early…

    Reply
  90. Thanks for the post. It is similar to what I’m currently going through. Only my 4th book but each one has been different. It’s very comforting to read that a writer so experienced (and so *good*)can be equally nuts.
    Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early…

    Reply
  91. From MJP:
    ***Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early… **
    Elder author titters briefly behind her gloved hand, then dons grave face and says, “Indeed, Miranda, next time will be different.” *g*
    Glad that this was of help!

    Reply
  92. From MJP:
    ***Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early… **
    Elder author titters briefly behind her gloved hand, then dons grave face and says, “Indeed, Miranda, next time will be different.” *g*
    Glad that this was of help!

    Reply
  93. From MJP:
    ***Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early… **
    Elder author titters briefly behind her gloved hand, then dons grave face and says, “Indeed, Miranda, next time will be different.” *g*
    Glad that this was of help!

    Reply
  94. From MJP:
    ***Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early… **
    Elder author titters briefly behind her gloved hand, then dons grave face and says, “Indeed, Miranda, next time will be different.” *g*
    Glad that this was of help!

    Reply
  95. From MJP:
    ***Next time I’m going to plan and write 1000 words a day every day and have lots of time to revise and send it in early… **
    Elder author titters briefly behind her gloved hand, then dons grave face and says, “Indeed, Miranda, next time will be different.” *g*
    Glad that this was of help!

    Reply

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