Sushi, Sour Ju Jubes & the Sasquatch: Why Writers Need Deadlines!

Good (productive) writing day:

Get up early and eat a bowl of steel cut oats with fresh strawberries and organic milk.
Go to an hour and fifteen minute aerobics class - get your sweat on.
Have a quick healthy lunch and a cup of tea when you return home.
Write for three hours.
Read your e-mail and peruse your ‘bookmarked’ agent and editor sites to keep up-to-date on the latest in the publishing industry.
Read a great work of literature for an hour (or a book in the genre in which you are writing) followed by a chapter of Donald Maass’ book Writing the Break out Novel.
Continue thinking about your characters as you prepare some fresh salmon with brown rice for dinner. You add the fresh spinach that your neighbour gave you from her garden and reminisce about the nice chat you had with her. You smile knowing that you’re not one of those writers who eschews human contact.
Go to bed early.

Next day: repeat

Bad (non-productive) writing day:

Turn off the clock radio one minute before it comes on because you’ve convinced yourself that you need more sleep and are too tired for aerobics.

Eat a bowl of steel cut oats with fresh strawberries and organic milk; add a good sized dollop of maple syrup.
You’ve watched the Oprah episode on visioning your dreams. So, you check your e-mail and curse when the four e-mails you have envisioned from editors and/or agents aren’t there. Curse wasting an hour watching the Oprah episode on visioning your dreams.

Delete all the ‘fwd’ e-mails sent from your middle-aged friends pertaining to fart jokes, jokes about various parts of the male anatomy, or inspirational messages.

Get up to check the mail box because you thought you heard the mail carrier and you should at least have a couple of rejection letters, if not a request for your manuscript, or a contract that someone miraculously mailed to you.

Surf, in detail, the agent and editor blogs you have ‘bookmarked’ to remind yourself of how high a percentage of queries get rejected (90%), and bemoan the fact that they just can’t see your genius.

Click on a You Tube video on one of the blogs to see a hilarious re-enactment of the writer/editor relationship.
Promptly e-mail it to all your writer friends with the note: ‘how true ;-).’
Realize that you’re wasting time and decide you need a snack before you can start writing.
Eat a colossal chocolate brownie and re-fill your mug with tea that is now the colour of coffee because it has been sitting in the pot for two hours.
Realize that you aren’t drinking from your lucky tea-writing-mug and go back to the kitchen to rectify that. By now the tea is stone cold. Spend two minutes watching the mug rotate like a figure skater in the microwave.
Convince yourself that randomly searching You Tube for silly cat videos is ‘marketing research.’
Have a lunch consisting of nothing more than sushi and sour jujubes.

Do a ‘google’ search on ‘massive sugar headache’ looking for a cure.

Was that the sound of the mailbox being closed? Check mail box again; it can’t seriously be empty- not with all the queries you have out there circulating.

Convince yourself that the mail carrier is holding your mail ransom and that he’s had it in for you since you didn’t shovel your walk that one time last winter.

Check again for the e-mails you’ve envisioned and delete the multiple e-mails, from your writer friends, that suggest you are spending waaaay tooooo much time surfing You Tube.

Curse off your writer friends and send that funny video to your regular friends, it will help them understand how frustrating it is to be a writer.

Finally, open the manuscript you are working on, and realize that what you really need is a nap because you can’t concentrate today.
Wake up from your three-hour nap to discover that there are no brownies left and the bag of chocolate covered jujubes is empty.

Put on a ball cap because you have bed-head. Pull on a sweatshirt, even though it is really hot out, because you’ve gone a bit Sasquatch since buckling down with your writing and you can’t remember when you’ve bathed last.

Pull the ball cap lower and avoid meeting the glance of the neighbour who told all the other neighbours that you’re a recluse – what’s her problem?

Go to the grocery store and buy ginger chicken, sour jujubes, sparkling water, and brownies. Forget to buy vegetables. Note to self: steal raspberries over the fence from your neighbour.

Go to video store and rent three movies that everyone else has seen but you never saw because you spend your life writing. Call it ‘plot research’ and watch all three.
Begin to wonder if you are like a character on Gilligan’s Island always trying to achieve an elusive and unattainable goal.

Crack open a bottle of wine because: sometimes you want to feel like a normal person and not a writer; the day’s a wash anyway, might as well enjoy the night; and you need to practice your pose holding a full glass of red wine for when they take your picture at your book launch.
Rehearse your pose by drinking multiple glasses of wine and call it ‘publicity research.’

Stay up too late watching re-runs of Reba and go to bed without brushing your teeth.

Next day: repeat.

This article, originally titled, “Why Writer’s Need Deadlines” ran in West Word Magazine – Writers Guild of Alberta, September-October 2009.

Quatchi Sasquatch Mascot for the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympics - one mythical hairy beast promoting world peace, friendship and athletic excellence! Woot! Woot!


JennaQuentin said…
Aïe aïe aïe! That good day sounded marvelous - I can even do the writing during the toddler's naptime...yet why don't I? I love the idea of renting the films and calling it plot research! Absolutely! I don't often have to go out with a ballcap, but when the neighbor knocks I frantically search for a bra or at least a sweater ;) Hermit writers can't be inhibited with them, you know! Thanks for sharing.
Jan Markley said…
Thank you for sharing Jenna! Good to know I'm not the only sasquatch writer who has to cover up my hermit-ness!
Anonymous said…
Oh my wow...and yep yep! You've nailed. Like your productive day...
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Deb - I'm sure you know what I'm talking about!
Candy Gourlay said…
you forgot the bit where you decide to wash all the beddings in the house and do a full curretage of the cellar.
Jan Markley said…
Good one Candy - I'll remember that for the next time I'm procrastinating!

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