By Pat Bradley
If you are a writer, published or unpublished, you have deadlines. True, they might be self-imposed, but they are still deadlines you take seriously. And since you can’t schedule emergencies, what do you do with those deadlines when you have to deal with a serious illness or something unexpected that can’t be put off?
I found myself in the “life happens” lane recently while I had several deadlines, and I have a couple of suggestions.
The first deadline was a proposal I needed to turn in when I ended up in the hospital and had a heart catheterization. And the anesthesia used in those procedures always numbs my creativity. The first week after the heart cath, my brain simply would not work, so I rested.
Suggestion #1: If you find yourself under a deadline and life throws you a curve, give yourself time to regroup (or heal).
It was fully two weeks before I could think again, and then my nephew became critically ill. I traveled with my sister to St. Louis to be with him for eight days. The proposal necessarily slid to the backburner.
Suggestion #2: Sometimes you absolutely can’t do anything constructive on your project that’s under deadline. Only you will know what you can and cannot do. If it’s absolutely necessary, put that project on the back burner, and don’t beat yourself up about it.
If you are dealing with an agent or publisher, contact them as soon as you can and explain your situation. With an emergency, they will understand and do all they can to cut you some slack. But as soon as possible, do work hard to get whatever you’ve promised to them.
I’m feeling much better now, and my nephew is improving. But while I was in St. Louis, several more deadlines popped up in the form of blogs that needed to be written and sent to my publisher. Sitting in an ICU waiting room sucked the creativity right out of me as far as the story for the proposal went, but the blogs were another matter. I had brought my tablet, and writing the blog posts gave me a break from worrying about my nephew.
Suggestion #3: Do what you can do. Maybe it’s cleaning out those hundreds (thousands?) of emails in your inbox, or writing blog posts, or anything that doesn’t require hard and long concentration. Then, when you are able to get back into the creative process, you won’t have those nitpicking things hanging over you.
Life will eventually return to normal, or you’ll find a new normal that you will adjust to, but until then, hang on. And never waste an opportunity. From my own hospital stay and then my nephew’s, I have enough medical experience to write a very convincing hospital scene. 🙂
Winner of the 2016 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in Suspense, Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her Logan Point series is available at all major bookstores. Her newest book, Justice Delayed, releases January 31, 2017.