Deadline? What Deadline? Sometimes You Need a Break

Monday, December 18, 2017
I got a message from my editor. “I’ll have everything together by the end of the week. Just wanted to give you a heads up so you can clear your schedule for the rewrite.” Then I waited. And I waited some more. Finally the rewrite landed in my inbox at midnight last Saturday.

This means that I have a book due today, one week before Christmas. Do I need to explain to all of you writing women that I really had other plans for the days spent on this rewrite? Probably not. I’m guessing that at least a few of you still have Christmas cards to send out and gifts yet to purchase.

For four days I dove into the rewrite. Monday through Thursday. I got about half of it done but I was frustrated and things were not looking good for the weekend. So what did I do?

I took time off. We decorated the tree and got the rest of the decorations up. I read over my editor’s notes and rewrote a chapter.

Next I finished crocheting a gift for someone. Then I came back and roughed out the new chapter.

Then I wrapped the gift books that my husband wanted to take to the post office. Gotta get those books into the hands of young readers. Then I came back and rewrote the new chapter and took it to grade level.

By then my son was out with friends. My husband and I went to the grocery and got what we needed for dinner. I worked while dinner was in the oven and we ate and watched a movie. Then I read over more notes from my editor and wrapped up the last chapter.

Yes, I had a lot of work to get done this weekend. But the funny thing about freelancing is that you can let it fill your day, your week and your weekend. Yet, strangely enough, there is always something more to do.

You have to take time off to do other things. When you do, you’ll be re energized and ready to go. Things will come together much more quickly. I rewrote as much Friday and Saturday as I did Monday through Thursday and I did it in a lot less time.

To be a successful freelancer, you do need to devote time to your work. But you also need to recognize when something isn’t coming together because you’ve been at your desk for too long. A break will help you find the distance that you need to really evaluate what you’ve written. That’s when things will come together much more quickly.

Sunday night? I could have spent the time reading through my changes. But I just wasn’t sure I had achieved the necessary distance from my work. So I went to a family screening of Polar Express, sang the hot chocolate song with preschoolers, and munched on popcorn.

I’ve been told I’m really productive. But Polar Express and popcorn? A women writer has to keep her priorities straight.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins January 8th, 2017.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I think it was Pearl Buck who wrote that her best writing ideas came to her when she was washing the dishes.

Congratulations on another book, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Kathleen Cassen Mickelson said...

Love this post! Yes, writers absolutely need to recognize when it's time to step away from their computer. Balance is important. And movie and popcorn are a must.

Margo Dill said...

I agree that sometimes when we give ourselves a smaller amount of time to finish something, we actually get it done more efficiently. There is something about working under the gun for writers.

Renee Roberson said...

I like to think I'm a productive writer, too, but probably not as much as I could be. Good for you balancing everything so nicely! Me? I can always find time for a good crime show :-)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

My son and I game and like to watch King of the Hill which may or may not be based on family. I also knit and crochet.

Thank you all for the kind words. Have a grand holiday!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Sue, you are amazing. Look how much you got done while taking "breaks," which was also getting your stuff handled. :)

I used to watch King of the Hill religiously, and I love propane and propane accessories. ;) I wish they had new ones.

Congrats on your book and have a lovely holiday!

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