The month of March is soon to end, and here in southern Ontario, spring and its flurry of activity are about to begin. I am still very much in the throes of editing my first novel. This cozy mystery, I hope, will become a series featuring my cake-baking, procrastinating, cardigan-wearing millennial sleuth who can’t understand the pressure to have a side hustle when she doesn’t even want to have a main hustle.
At the end of January, I gave myself eight weeks to tackle my pages-long list of structural story edits. Including today, I’ve got four days to my March 31 deadline. With ten chapters yet to edit, I need to work my way through 2 1/2 chapters a day to finish. I’ve made some solid progress, but I’ve got a lot of work to do this week to meet that deadline.
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”Douglas Adams
I have two beta readers lined up and a potential third in the wings. Things are getting real. Am I happy with the novel as it is? I’m getting there. It’s certainly a lot closer than it was at the end of 2022. I can almost taste it now. There are still parts that I’m really unsure of, but feedback from my beta readers will go a long way toward identifying any remaining issues.
“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something, you can be judged.”Erica Jong
Accountability has really been key in regaining some momentum with this project. Announcing my intentions to people who understand what I’m working on, setting concrete deadlines for myself, and mapping out milestones that will lead to my ultimate goal has given an impetus to my WIP that it was lacking.
My biggest enemy is still procrastination. I took an entire week out at the end of February to attend the Literary Cleveland Flash Fiction Festival. It was heavenly. BUT, during the workshops that week, I started several new flash pieces. I spent much of the following week working on finishing one of them and submitting a few pieces to different literary magazines and competitions. See how quickly one week off can turn into a two-week abyss of distraction? Add to that the mind-numbing allure of TikTok and Netflix, and it’s a recipe for me never to finish this novel.
“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”Mark Twain
I’m not thrilled that I’m a leave-it-to-the-last-minute kind of gal, but I am who I am, it is what it is, and that’s where we are. If I can manage to finish this round of edits by end of day Friday, I plan to pass the manuscript off to my beta readers and forget about it for a while. April is Camp NaNoWriMo again, and that might be a good time to revisit the draft of book 2 (yes, book 2 is drafted and eagerly awaiting some revision). On the other hand, it might be a good time to take a break from noveling and play around with some short-form fiction instead.
“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”Bill Watterson
Tell me, what is your best procrastination-busting tip? And how do you reward yourself when you reach an important deadline?