Look out! I’m off topic and on the road.
Specifically, I’m on my way to New Jersey to visit family and next week I’m heading into NYC to do a podcast at Penguin, have lunch with my publicist and scout locations for my NY launch party.
But I’m really off topic because, as my fellow debs know, I’m little stressed out and overwhelmed this week, which means it’s hard to focus. Thankfully sharing these ups and downs is part of our mandate here. And I must thank my fellow debs who all came to the rescue via email yesterday just as I was approaching meltdown status over my massive To Do list. Between the five of them and The Oppressor, I managed to avoid a full Hagen Dazs, wearing-sunglasses-while-crying-in-the-grocery-store episode. Phew.
Now, can I enlist some of you to cheer me on? One of the biggest things I’m stressed out about is finishing my new book. I had no idea when Falling Under sold how crazy the months leading up to release would be. I thought I had lots of time to write the next book. But it’s been a wild year with so much to learn about the publishing industry and so freaking much to do to try to ensure that my “baby” gets a good start in the world that the new book keeps getting pushed to the back burner.
And I want it done. I want it done so I can (hopefully) get it sold and have a good follow-up book in a timely manner. I want it done so I can get to writing the next one. I want it done because any book, until it’s finished, is the proverbial monkey on one’s back. And most of all, I want it done so I’m not worrying about it when Falling Under is released, two months from now.
Technically there are enough hours in the day for me to get my first draft out in the next few weeks, but it’s going to take enormous discipline and it will be a serious balancing act.
So, I’d love some good creative vibes, kicks in the butt, etc. I’d also love to hear your stories about finishing something difficult, balancing conflicting demands on your time and where you find your energy and inspiration.
What are you desperate to accomplish and how do you do it?
11 Replies to “On the Road by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman”
I’ve never been on any writing deadline other than my own, self-imposed ones, AND I don’t have the pressure of kids, so I’m probably not the best person to ask. The things I’m most desperate for (um, book deal, lottery win) are pretty far beyond my control most of the time, but I will say this:
Just Do It.
Just Do It is my mantra. Really. Ignore everything else and Just Do It. Do what you need to to get it done. You are intelligent and resourceful, Danielle, which means if you force yourself to focus for long enough to make a game plan, you will be able to execute it. I have faith in you. Go. Just Do It.
And if your faith, focus or commitment wane, give me a holler and I’ll come kick your ass.
I was in the same boat as you back in November, D. I did the Backspace Marathon (like NaNoWriMo) in November, but didn’t achieve much–started out strong but fizzled. But then in December I dug in my heels and decided “dammit, I’m just going to hunker down and DO this!” I shoved all of the other have-to’s to the back burner, put my football helmet on, and figuratively tackled that enormous ape that had been standing in my path keeping me from progressing forward. Now I do work best under pressure, and so for me this was the middle-aged mom version of pulling an all-nighter in college before an exam. But it worked, and wow, what a burden is lifted when you can finally put those three cross-hatches at the bottom of the last page of the book, especially if you think you’ve done your best on it.
Good luck D! But remember, you can only do what you can do so don’t kill yourself TOO much!
Nike and Joanne both have it right, Just do It. This requires a rather selfish attitude (not a bad thing). You are, by nature, a very generous person, and generous persons spread themselves too thin at times. Those fledgling writers who have begged you to read their mss (i.e., me) can wait! You only have so many hours in a day. Tell everyone (besides your husband and daughter) to take a powder, leave you the frack alone for a few weeks, and rack up word count. If you kick us hangers-on to the curb (and we WILL live), you can have a first draft on your agent’s desk by the end of June. Have fun in NY this weekend!
First of all YOU CAN DO IT. Feel the vibe? Now, here’s my advice… isolation. Is there an way you can go away for a few days without internet connection? I’ve done that a few times in my writing life and was amazed at how much I could accomplish without interruption.
Move to a different city.
I spent eight years writing my doctoral dissertation, in fits and starts. (Mostly fits; the proposal alone took four years!) During those eight years I had five more children, for a total of eight. Crying behind sunglasses in the grocery store was a habit.
Then my husband took a job that moved us from Virginia to Atlanta, and four things happened. First, I was away from my friends and activities, which created a gaping sense of emptiness. Research and writing filled this. In fact, the project had been part of me for so long, it seemed like a friend I’d brought with me from Virginia. Second, we met a lovely young Peruvian woman who was looking for a live-in au pair situation; this is much more common in Atlanta than in Virginia. Third, I was within a fairly easy drive of Emory University library. Not only was this someplace I could go to get away from the eight-plus distractions in the house, but its ambience put me in an academic mindset. I’d show up every day, just like a regular job, and the longer I did, the more I got done each time. Finally, I met a famous female scholar who kicked my butt (the link on my name goes to this story).
When I hit “Save” on the last chapter, I happened to be on a plane. I was so giddy with that burden-lift Jenny talks about that I turned to the stranger in the next seat and said, “I have just finished a 29,000 word, eight-years-in-the-making doctoral dissertation in ethical theory. Would you like to read it?”
I just laughed out loud at Kalynne’s last paragraph….Danielle, YOU CAN DO IT! I think isolation and reshifting the priorities on the TO DO list are the key. But then, I’m in the same boat as you and can hardly take my own advice. 🙂
Block off the first hours of the day to write your WIP. Tell yourself all the other things (six zillion of them) will be an afternoon project. The marketing etc requires less creative energy so use your optimal time for writing. Plus I find I do better if I force myself to set aside blocks of time.
And along with everyone else- you’ll do it. Give yourself a wee break too. This whole book thing coming out is supposed to be fun. (yes I know this ironic advice given how freaked out I was during my release-but now I can be all sage and wise)
This may sound absurd but can you set up shop in the bathroom? That’s true isolation and a relaxing quiet. Throughout the year, Danielle, you’ve managed to juggle everything with style and grace so why not this? My money’s on you! 🙂
Just arrived after a 10 hour trip!!! Thanks for all the great advice, anecdotes and comments. I will comment in detail later today.
I’m feeling the vibes!
Danielle, everyone has given you such great advice. Just make sure you block off some time for it each day. You’ll do it!!!! I know you will.
As usual, there’s something helpful, funny and/or inspiring in every comment here. This is one of the things I love about blogging. Sorry I’m late by a day, but we had a very long day yesterday and I essentially fell into bed last night. Hopefully some of you will check back to see that I DID respond!
Joanne, thanks. I will be coming back for some butt-kicking I’m sure.
Jenny, I am going to envision myself with a football helmet on.
Maia, you understand me quite well! Thanks.
Gail–isolation is a good one. Not sure where I can go (possibly the bathroom, as per Larramie’s advice, though I can still get internet there) but it’s clear I need to do something drastic.
Kalynne–amazing and hilarious. Did the person say yes? I don’t think I can move at this point, but live-in help and a good library might work!
Jess–thanks for the cheering! May we both get our projects done.
Eileen–more good advice. I am such a happier person if I get a decent word count in early in the day. And yes, I will try to have more fun too.
Larramie–thanks for the vote of confidence. And I LOVE the bathroom idea. Only problem is, our bathrooms are both a tad cramped. But maybe that would be a plus–I could “banish” myself to the bathroom until I get my words done. Hmm…
Maureen–thanks for chiming in and for the encouragement.
All: I will report in over the next few weeks and tell you how it’s going.
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