Deadline Hell and Writer Life

A few years ago, when I’d first gotten on twitter, I recall reading a tweet from a big name author.  We’ll just call her BNA.

She’d posted something along the lines of…

FINALLY! Finished my book.  Beat the deadline and now…I can take a fricking bath and relax…

I didn’t think much of it, although, admittedly, I kind of rolled my eyes.  I typically beat deadlines by several months (or at that point, I had) and I take a long hot soak whenever I want.  Ahhh…the arrogance of youth. (Or somebody who hadn’t quite gotten used to heavy deadlines…)

While I rolled my eyes at what I perceived was overly dramatic, some of her followers took some potshots. She had a lot–still does.  She got harassed like crazy for that simple tweet.  A bunch of people were like…

What…you don’t take baths when you’re working?

For some reason, that rubbed me wrong although I didn’t say anything about it.

But I get what she was saying now.

For the past few months, I’ve been working under deadlines that have all but obliterated my ‘relax’ time.  I force myself to squeeze it in and I still take time off on the weekends.  My family is more important than any book and I’m not going to work and never see them, but the health problems I’ve been having have just eaten away at my life, making me run late, ask for extra time, taking away time that I would usually put in on side projects or…yanno…read.  Take long baths. Relax.

Even when I try to relax, it doesn’t happen.

There’s this weird thing with being a writer–and I think it’s something that a lot of creatives deal with the same thing–but you don’t leave your job. Ever.  When I was in nursing, once I punched out, I was done.  I didn’t have to work again until I got back to work the next day. But when you’re a writer, you don’t get to ‘punch out’ of the story. It’s always there.  Your brain is constantly working at some angle or a character and it doesn’t ever shut down. There is always another story looking to be discovered or created, more characters waiting. The writing is always spinning something around around and your brain just doesn’t stop.

You’ve got a brain that’s constantly humming along at 70 mph, even when you sleep. It’s…interesting.

When you’re on deadline, it ramps up to 100mph, 120…140…200…O.O. And sometimes, you feel like this might actually happen if you have even one more thing to do…

writer life

Sitting in that bath tub sounds like a simple thing, but while we’re doing it, the story is already inside our head, eating us up and for all I know, if I sit down long enough to relax, some crucial piece will slip away.

Then my head might really explode. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’re stuck in deadline hell.  Most things outside the basic necessities fade away-everybody’s basic necessities differ.  Mine are family, food, church, sleep…and sleep honestly is low on the totem pole. So is food half the time.

But beyond those four? Eesh. I might forget to take a shower if I wasn’t afraid my husband might kick me out of the bed.