by Francine Puckly
This blog is late for a number of reasons, but the most notable cause is burnout. I began 2015 convinced that I had only a few short weeks of revision remaining for my current YA manuscript. I dashed off on a three-week sprint to finish the story.
Those three weeks came and went while I slogged through the quagmire of subplot placement and character development.
“That’s okay,” I told myself. “I know I can finish in another two weeks.”
I pounced on the manuscript with almost the same enthusiasm. Almost. But my commitment to this draft was soon smothered with life—fundraising for a non-profit I support, events planning for another, a family medical emergency, band concerts, budget meetings, and snowstorms.
“It’s okay,” I still told myself. “If I cut my sleep a little bit more, I know I’ll finish in two weeks!”
And it was okay.
Until it wasn’t.
A medical trip to my parents’ home for four days forced a reevaluation of my writing process. Despite missing my self-imposed deadlines repeatedly, I had become a workaholic. I didn’t reduce other commitments. Instead, I took from myself. I gave up the good things in life that could have, and should have, sustained me. It was only after stepping away from this destructive routine that I could see I had to stop the madness.
But old habits die hard, and I posted my April goals, telling myself (and the world!) I would complete my manuscript (again)! You’d think I’d learn.
I went in tonight and changed my goals. I don’t know if I can finish the manuscript this month without hurting all that’s good in my life. A more realistic goal is taking time for four two-hour sessions each week over and above my 20 minutes a day. Not word count. Not page numbers. Not completion.
What will I do instead? I’m taking steps to regain my physical fitness, treating my son to dinner after shoe shopping, and reading books outside in the first moderate temperatures we've had in months. And I just might go see "Cinderella."
And the manuscript? Oh, I suppose I’ll finish it.
After a good night’s sleep and a long walk.
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