It’s funny how good intentions, routines, and healthy habits seem to fly right out the window when I’m on deadline. I’d like to blame the sinus infection I was fighting last month when I turned in my latest manuscript; however, I don’t have much of an excuse for the other four books in the Lords of Vice series. On New Year ’s Eve, I was reflecting on the pattern that always seems to emerge around deadlines.
1) Slacking off at the gym. It starts out innocent enough. I begin to stress about the how much time I have left before I turn in a manuscript. In those final weeks, every hour counts. I calculate that I’m spending five hours at the gym a week. Double that amount to factor in the time it takes me to drive to and from the gym and the shower afterward. That’s ten hours a week I could be writing! Forty hours in a month. I finally convince myself that a brisk walk around the neighborhood a few times a week will suffice, but soon I’ll find a good excuse not even do that. Last month, I had a pretty good excuse. I was on antibiotics for two weeks and I had to reduce my exposure to the sun. Even my husband couldn’t debate me on that one.
2) Eating healthy is history. Most of the time, my diet is very healthy. Lots of fruits and vegetables and lean cuts of meat. When I’m on deadline, I want carbs. Bring on the junk food! Chips, pretzels, sandwiches—anything that’s quick so I can get back to the keyboard. I also get a weird craving for licorice. I know I’m close to finishing a book when I have to buy Twizzlers.
3) Sleep is optional. When the story is flowing, I begin to cut corners on my necessary eight hours of sleep. I find myself mentally writing scenes instead of sleeping, and insomnia kicks in because I don’t want to forget all that great dialogue. I do keep a notebook next to my bed for random inspiration, but if I’m committed to an idea, I usually just get back up and write it.
4) Pleasure reading. This one is a difficult one to give up, and it explains why my TBR pile has turned into a small mountain. When I’m on deadline, the only books I crack open are research-related.
5) TV and movies. This sacrifice tends to annoy the family because there are several shows we watch together. Over the Christmas break, my youngest daughter and I finally made it to the theater to watch Breaking Dawn. Naturally, when we stopped at the concession stand, the one candy she had to have was—you guessed it—Twizzlers!
Now that I have a little breathing room until my next deadline, I’ve returned to my healthier lifestyle. I’m back at the gym. Ugh, that first week was painful. That should be incentive enough not to slack off again. These days, I’m eating good carbs. Twizzlers are off my grocery list. The insomnia is gone, which is a relief. I’ve missed my bed. And over the holiday break, I was able to catch up on some of my pleasure reading and TV shows.
This has all the makings of a New Year’s resolution, doesn’t it? I’d agree, but I know all my good intentions are going to slip away when that next deadline approaches!
[Ed. Alexandra is giving away two books today – first winner will receive a copy of Sunrise with a Notorious Lord and the second will get their choice of any other Lords of Vice novel – so be sure to leave a meaningful comment or question for her!]