Love & Writing, The Organised Writer

Under Pressure

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently revising a novel for an agent who requested a revise and resubmit. And, being the organised (my husband might say obsessive…) person that I am, I have a schedule and a plan for the revision, carefully mapped out, tracked and adhered to.

And it’s kicking my ass.

In this particular case, the end is in sight (finally!) and I do have a reason for pushing to get it finished – I want to get it to a beta reader before she gets sucked into house moving madness next month. But it’s not just this one book where I have this issue.

I expect a lot of myself, and I’m okay with that. I like setting timetables for my productivity, and I get a little warm feeling if I get to write ‘Ahead’ in the progress box next to today’s date on the spreadsheet and see it turn green. That’s the sort of person I am, and I’ve had thirty years to come to terms with it.


Do I need to be so demanding? I don’t have an editor waiting for my polished manuscript. I’m not screwing up anyone’s publication schedule. I’m not even risking a dip in the family income if I don’t meet my own timetable. I could, with no ill effect, take a break sometimes.

I’m impatient, and I want to get new things written, and submitted, and keep hoping that something more will come of it. But I think it’s been pretty comprehensively proven that the human body – and mind – functions best if it alternates work with rest, and even play.

I do take time off, of course – to spend time with my family, to knit, to cook. But writing is what I love to do most, and even when I’m doing other things, part of my mind is often untangling plot threads and character motivations.

And sometimes life happens, and I have to adjust the schedule accordingly. But an actual planned slowdown? Much harder for me. I start thinking that I’m wasting time, that I’m not working hard enough for my goals.

So I guess the schedule for my next book, or story, or revision will be just as demanding. And I imagine I’ll have to fiddle the numbers somewhere in the middle to make it work, when Chapter Six tries to tear the story apart. And it’s pretty much inevitable that as the deadline looms, I’ll feel just as strung out and tired as I do right now. And I’ll probably post about how I need to slow down a bit, maybe take some time off.

Then the next idea will hit, and I won’t be able to wait…

What about you? How do you push yourself? For you published authors, how do you cope when the deadlines pile up? And for the unpubbeds like me, how hard is too hard when it comes to demands on yourself? 

Most importantly, how do you all relax when it’s all a bit too much?

4 thoughts on “Under Pressure”

  1. I tend to work better under pressure. If I don’t have a deadline, I tend to put other things first (hence why I haven’t touched my next book in several weeks)

    Great article!

  2. I don’t want pressure — I have enough of that in my day job. But I am prone to be quite obsessive and can get sucked into my writing to the point where I neglect my household chores .. bad, bad. I’m trying for balance and not succeeding terribly well at the moment.

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