One of the first things I realised after being published, was that I was going to have to do some serious thinking about how I'd handle the stress related to deadlines. It was one of the reasons I ultimatey chose to go with Indie publishing. It allowed me to control when I had a deadline, and it also allowed me to work around anything that popped up health or life-wise that would stop me meeting that deadline. I did a piece about schedules and deadlines, (found here) and in it I talked about how I set my own deadlines - such as the four chapters I do each fortnight, which make up a big part of my writing work.
As a spoonie though, you'll be very aware that stress is bad, and you'll also be aware that your health and ability to do things such as write are unreliable. Sometimes you'll be able to meet your deadlines (self set or not) and other times you'll have to miss them. The trick as an indie author, and as a spoonie, is to allow your deadlines to be as flexible as they can be without them becoming completely meaningless. By now, you'll have read a number of pieces about my life as a spoonie writer, and you'll be aware of the term "pacing". My advice for this piece is similar, so much so that it's become one of my life's mantras.
Stress is bad for anyone in large enough doses. For some people, their everyday stress level is higher and for others it's lower. What you personally can deal with depends on you alone and as a spoonie you will be very aware of knowing your own body and how it reacts to certain triggers, stress being one of them. I know that in all my time being chronically ill - and I mean back towards the time when I just had Brittle Asthma - I have been inherently aware that I do not do stress well, like at all. If I put myself under too much pressure, my lungs goes splat, I wheeze, get chest pains and feel dreadful. Add to that two newer conditions (Fibro and M.E) that also don't go well with stress and you can imagine the trembling ball that is me on the floor in the throes of both an asthma attack, a pain flare and an M.E relapse. Stress for me is not good, and it doesn't even have to be in large doses.
So, when I decided to go down the Indie author route, I was very glad to know that I'd have more control over when I published which book and what chapters were due whenever. As I've been writing for near enough thirteen years, I've learnt that I don't have the ability to deal with pressure mounting from missed deadlines. It's one of the reasons I took my uni courses the way I did, I liked being able to get ahead and then not have to worry if I needed time off. I am the same with writing. By the time this piece is published on my blog, my seventh book will have been released and meanwhile, I recently finished my twelfth book and started writing my thirteenth and fourteenth. I still only plan to release one book a year, unless circumstances change. By doing all of this it means that in a way, I am ahead with my book writing already. It allows me to leave a book to sit for a while after being written before I go back, with fresh eyes and start the editing after process.
Now, that won't work for everyone, and it's not always the best way to do things, but it's what works for me. I know that when I set up my fortnightly to-do list and I add those four chapters, I also add four bonus ones just in case. Sometimes I manage them and other times I don't manage any. It really is all dependant on how my health is and how I'm doing both physically and mentally. Some fortnights I even manage to go further and do more chapters than expected on both the to-do list AND the bonus one! It really does depend on how I'm doing.
Pacing myself has always been a big thing for me since I fell sick with the Fibro and M.E. I was always someone who was organised and I liked things done in a certain way. I'm the same now, but I have learnt to be more flexible. While I would love to be able to write all day, all night, and then all day again, it's just not something I can do (though not many people can!) I need a certain level of sleep and rest breaks. If I push myself too far one day, I pay for it the next and that is not conducive to a schedule or deadline of any kind. So, I try to pace myself, and if you can find something that works for you, then try to keep yourself into some kind of schedule or routine. After all, you are the only one who knows how it feels to be you and the best one to know what your body needs. It may take time away from actual work, but it will also possibly take away time you would have spent in a flare or relapse. You know you best, and you have to work with that!
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