Monday, December 16, 2013

I Never Write in December--A Writing Myth I Tried to Prove True and Failed!

I know I’m dating myself, but do you remember that old Jell-O commercial where a woman chanted over and over, “Busy day, busy day, busy, busy, busy day?” That sounds a lot like my life these days, especially during December. And I imagine it’s the same for many of you. A lot of us have full plates any month of the year, but during the Christmas season we add a bazillion other demands on our time, not to mention a social calendar that seems to explode. What does a writer do if she has deadlines? Besides nearly having a meltdown, which I came close to doing the other night.

Years ago, I began my writing career by taking a correspondence writing class. Up to the first of December, I'd regularly completed my lessons and returned them to my instructor without interruption. But when December rolled around, I put everything to the side and focused on my Christmas activities. A few weeks into the month, I received a note from the instructor asking if I was okay. I told her I was fine, but during December I don’t write. She must have rolled her eyes at that one. She was kind in her response, but very straight forward as she explained there will be times in my writing life when I simply cannot put my writing to the side in December because deadlines are a fact of a writer’s life.

I really appreciate how my instructor treated a simple correspondence course the same way a publisher or agent would treat an established deadline. How else would a newbie writer learn the ways of doing things in the publishing industry?

It all came to bear last year when I had a real-life deadline for my novel that was published on April 1, 2013.

Initially, the plan was for my edits to be turned in before Christmas, but it didn’t happen that way. My editor was very apologetic for the delay, but to get the final manuscript to the printer in time, my edits had to be returned as soon as possible. Could I have them back to her right after New Year’s Day?

I didn’t have any grand plans for New Year’s weekend, but if I had, I would have rearranged them in whatever way it took to get the job done. I planted my you-know-what in my chair and worked the entire New Year’s weekend. And while I worked on those edits, I couldn’t help but think back to that correspondence course when I told my instructor that I never write in December.

This year I have deadlines again. More than one, actually.

We’d all like to tell editors and agents that we don’t write in December, but sometimes we have to. It’s our job. And, frankly, I wouldn't want any other job in the whole world!

What do you do with December deadlines? Give up sleep? Pack the kids off to Grandma for the day or weekend? How do you manage your time? I’m sure there are people reading this who need some tips. I know I do!

 A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago, an hour's drive away from her hometown which she visits often to dig into its historical legacy. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way,  contemporary romantic mysteries and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva,Wisconsin, released in April, 2013. She can often be found speaking at events around Lake Geneva or nosing in microfilms and historical records about Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.


Ron Estrada said...

Well, I have no deadlines other than the self-imposed type. I want my current WIP to be ready for a few contest entries by March, so I've set a tight schedule. An unpublished writer needs to treat these goals as seriously as one set by a publisher. Fortunately, I see the holidays as a time to catch up. My day job gives me the week off, so I get to use it to write (and whatever my wife has planned). If I were writing full time, I'd have the same goals. It could be a weekly word count or a completed article. If I miss writing time, I need to make it up. It's a real job with real expectations. So I may just have to forego another viewing of "Elf" to catch up. There are worse problems to have.

Lori Benton said...

This year my typeset pages for my spring 2014 novel will arrive on December 20th, due Jan 2nd. Proofreading isn't as intense as content or even line edits, but it's just as important a step as any other in the editing process, and it will keep me busy through Christmas into New Years. I decided to poll my agency mates to see who else had Christmas/New Years deadlines and offer to pray for them every time I prayed for me.

Writing is harder to do in December, so I keep my expectations for non deadline work low, knowing I'll bear down again in January.

Pamela S. Meyers said...

That's the right kind of attitude, Ron. Treating your self-imposed deadlines like a real job is good training for when it is for real and a publisher wants your edits back yesterday!

Pamela S. Meyers said...

Lori, thank you so much for reminding me and everyone that prayer needs to be at the top of the list! And praying for others takes the focus off ourselves. It helps. too, to know there are others out there with their own know, misery loves company :-).