How Not to Unravel When Writing, by Guest Author Lynn Biederman

We’re pleased to have the lovely Lynn Biederman, co-author and debut novelist of UNRAVELING (July 2008, Delacorte Press), as our guest today on the Debutante Ball. Sharp, chatty, brutally honest, and heartbreakingly real, UNRAVELING is about mothers and daughters, the search for acceptance, preparing for the unexpected, and learning that sometimes it just can’t be done.

As I sat down to write this blog entry on “our daily routines” it occurred to me that the status update I just slapped up on facebook describes much about my daily goings on. “Lynn Biederman is doing what she does—delaying what she needs to do!” I’ve come to accept, and maybe even dangerously embrace, the fact that I’m a textbook procrastinator with attention deficit disorder, distractibility, perseveration (a fancy term I think for hyper focusing on one thing to exclusion of all else, which I’m the queen of), mania, utter and complete disorganization, and a degree of forgetfulness, which may in fact be a subconscious coping mechanism against being overwhelmed by all of above.

Sooo, how in the world do I maintain a routine? Um, er… the simple fact is I don’t. Sooo, what in the world can I say about routines on this blog that I’m very honored to be on?

I can tell you that someone as loopy as me managed to write when I wanted to, when I could, when I had to, and my co-authored debut novel UNRAVELING did emerge. Okay, so maybe it took eight months to a year more than it could have. But my co-author and I never unraveled—we realized we work differently and decided that deadlines aside, we were going to avoid pressured writing.

Here’s some of what I learned:

• Believe in luck. To get published requires some of this and also you should see my dice when I play backgammon.
• Believe in history. Somehow I always manage to get done what needs to be. Passed the NY State Bar Exam the time when it was announced JFK Jr. did not (this made news of my passing bigger to my family and random fact here (see distraction above mentioned) I slept in his bed and used his dresser drawers when he was on break and I was a summer student in Andover, his prep school.
• Love deadlines. I’d never miss one so they forced me to make revisions and deal with copy-edits etc on a timely basis.
• A co-author is great. Among the many reasons is that I couldn’t stand to let anyone else down (born and bred on guilt). BTW—also why I strongly prefer singles in tennis over doubles.
• Draft a daily schedule of what you intend to do. If you keep blowing off what’s on it, eventually the stress builds and you have to accomplish stuff.
• Some stress is good. Worrying about how your character will resolve a dilemma or what your editor will say about your major changes when you were told only minor ones allowed is good stuff. When the stress passes, you have an excuse to rest.
• Pad your to-do list. It’s not only wonderful for task completion satisfaction but marking things off makes you feel victorious and provides the excuse to celebrate and have that cold beer or glass of wine (even if it’s only 4:45 p.m.)
• Sign up for writing workshops and conferences, but select them with an eye toward favorable cancellation policies. When inspiration hits, you can just bow out.
• Hire an over-priced personal trainer who does not have a favorable cancellation policy; writing causes rounded shoulders and ass-spread.
• Don’t shop for groceries. When you are writing, you are eating. Plain and true! Be leery of Google. OMG, this can be the biggest time suck of all.

Thank you so much for your hilarious post, Lynn!

Visit Lynn on the web at

9 Replies to “How Not to Unravel When Writing, by Guest Author Lynn Biederman”

  1. Lynn! And I thought I had been doing this daily routine stuff wrong. Must be the Lynn factor that causes us to procrastinate. And I do agree, it’s a pain to have to be accountable to someone else. I hate letting someone down. Your book sounds amazing, especially after my phone call to my mom yesterday. There has got to be an answer to that relationship.

  2. Lynn, this is such a great post and very reassuring to those of us who don’t “organize” very easily. Things still get done!

    I adore your cover and look forward to reading the book.

    Will you co-write again?

  3. Great guest blog!!

    I’m hopefully gonna be getting a review copy of Lynn’s book early next month. I’m excited to read it!! 🙂

    PS A side note, but I’m reading Danielle’s book Falling Under right now and loving it! A review will be up this week! 🙂

  4. Hey Debs and all,

    Thanks for the posts. In order–yeah, the Lynn factor!!! It must be that and not that I am responsible for any procrastination. Have I mentioned my skills as a rationalizer? Bigtime advanced degree in that!

    I actually have co-written another YA novel called Teenage Waistland which is sort of about to enter the publishing pipelines now, and I’m in the middle of a third novel I’m writing on my own.

    This is a great blog, Debs. Thanks for letting me be on it.

    And Book Chic, please let me know if you have received copy. Would love you to review it!!!

    Thanks again,

  5. OMG I have The Lynn Factor! How I manage to write books and raise children etc etc etc I have never figured out. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

    Love your cover, and congrats on your new book!! Suzanne

  6. Thanks Suzanne!
    I laughed out loud when I read this. With humor and sincerity… Um, Girl, “I hear you!”

    ALSO to everyone who posted above– sorry for not responding earlier. I didn’t realize about the comments and also I delayed helping my son get *ready for college until 2 days before he was leaving and this blog happened in the haze of it all. TLF(see above few posts) at work. My apologies.

    *college and the drop off esp. for freshman is so much different than I remembered. My parents stayed a few hours and then next time they came back was when I graduated. Now, there’s a whole magilla…but I’m not complaining. I’ll miss my sonnyboy.


  7. wow, we really are on the same track. Both with delayed prepping son for college, and the whole thing. We take our oldest off tomorrow and I’ve been sobbing sporadically all day long. Dreading tomorrow (worse yet the drive home)

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