When was the last time you enjoyed a Calgon moment? RU contributor Ruth Harris talks about something writers know all too well.
You’ve got a book to write, a cover to create, tweets to tweet and pins to Pin. There’s metadata, pricing decisions, giveaways, keywords, tagging, liking, formatting and facing FB. Your lists have lists, your back is killing you and your eyes are crossed from so many hours in front of the computer.
There are 1000 things to do and, sometimes, it feels like 999 of them are driving you batshit crazy. You feel overwhelmed and out of control. We’ve all been there, done that.
Meltdown mode? What is it that absolutely, positively guarantees a meltdown? One more email that must be dealt with? A blurb that resists your creativity? A looming & leering deadline?
For me, it’s dinner when I’ve been working hard all day and am running on fumes. I don’t even always know how I feel when I’m in that state but my DH, Michael, has learned to recognize the warning signs (You think a crabby, cranky wife might be a tip-off?) Even though I love to cook, he knows when I’ve had enough.
Born and bred in Manhattan, Michael’s a true New Yorker who reaches for the phone. There’s Afghan, pizza, Turkish, Chinese, A+ hamburgers, deli sandwiches and the long-running pasta palace nearby so when dinner is the tipping-point, we (he) knows the warning signs and has learned how to deal.
Whatever your own trigger points, it’s essential to recognize them (or have a spouse/kid/best friend who does) and can come up with a strategy to fend them off before you go into DefconOne.
The to-do list from hell? You’ve uploaded your book to Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Apple, approached 10 book bloggers requesting a review, edited the first half of your next book, tweeted and posted to your blog. You took your oldest to the dentist and your youngest to ballet class. You hit the supermarket, the dry cleaner and the drugstore.
Don’t you think you might be pushing it? Haven’t you heard of delegating? Does the laundry really have to be done tonight? And addressing those Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanza cards? Can’t one of the kids help? Wouldn’t one of the neighbors, recently retired and sort of bored, enjoy lending a hand in exchange for a free book or a tray of your fabulous brownies?
You don’t need me to tell you’re not superman or superwoman. You need to tell yourself: Take the pedal off the metal, back off, slow down, pace yourself.
OCD tendencies? IOW, don’t torture yourself with perfection because perfection is a fantasy. When I was preparing my backlist books for epub, I was surprised to find a few typos and other minor mistakes. Not many, to be sure, but a few. Books published back in the day went through an editor, a copyeditor, and a proof reader. Not to mention the fact that the author (me) had two more go-rounds: galleys and page proofs.
You’d think that with that many eyes, no mistake would survive but you would be wrong. You should aim for an excellent book but not a perfect book because perfection simply doesn’t exist and the big advantage of cyber-pub is that if a reader spots an error you missed, you can fix it. Not possible in TradPub.
Miss Marple solves crimes, but you aren’t going to solve the riddle of the perfect book. Hire an editor if you need to. Get your best friend, your crit partner, your neighbor who loves to read to do a careful proofing, then let it go.
A tech wreck? Does uploading a cover image to specified measurements in KBs and MBs and pixels lead to fainting spells? You mean you don’t even know what KBs and MBs are? And pixels? What’s pixels? Drunken elves? Is Photoshop your Rubicon? And don’t even mention PRC, JPG & PNG.
Kids grew up with tech & if tech is turning you into a wreck, look for a kid—maybe even your own kid or the neighbor’s kid—to bail you out. Make a deal and pay them because what they do in saving your sanity is well worth it. Or, as the ad says, priceless.
Running on empty? Give yourself a break (literally).
- Meditate, take a yoga class, have a 10-minute massage (most manicure places offer them).
- Read a good book, maybe even one you wrote yourself.
- Binge view a season’s worth of Homeland.
- Go to the movies, a concert, the ballet.
- Make a lunch date even if it’s only with yourself.
- Take the time to catch up with an old friend—gossip is a superb refueling technique & a great source of new ideas.
Think Noir. When your reviews have disappeared, your buy buttons have mysteriously evaporated and ancient covers from a long-forgotten Transylvanian edition replace the elegant & expensive covers on your author page, noir does the job. When all the things that can and do go wrong, a sense of humor is your Number One offense & defense.
When all else fails, when you look in the mirror and see Quasimodo, don’t scream: laugh. Be bitter, be outraged. You have a right, damn it!
What keeps you from taking a one and a half gainer off the deep end? Share your tips!
Only 99c reduced from $4.99. How can you resist?
HarperCollins publicist, Caroline Perny, joins us on Wednesday, October 8th.
Bio: Ruth Harris is a New York Times bestselling author whose books (with Random House, Simon & Schuster, and St.Martin’s Press) have sold millions of copies in hardcover and paperback, been translated into 19 languages, published in 25 countries and selected by the Literary Guild and Book-of-the-Month Club.
Ruth started out in publishing right after she graduated from college. Her first job was as secretary to a textbook editor, an unpromising start if there ever was one, but she was soon promoted to copyediting—much more interesting.
She’s been a copywriter, assistant editor, editor, editor-in-chief and, eventually, publisher at Kensington.
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for April 2 – April 6, 2012
- Lucky Seven Winners
- Five Sex Thrills No One Talks About with Ruth Harris
- Weekly Lecture Schedule: October 22nd to October 26th
- Hold Your Nose and Type – The Upside of Writing Fast with Ruth Harris