Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What to do when there's nothing to do.... - Donna Alward

I'm cheating. I'm writing this ahead of time.

There's a very good reason. And that is, I've been looking forward to April ever since we hit mid-November.

Mid-November meant OMG there's only seven weeks until Christmas. It also meant it's time to get serious about my January 10 deadline. Then it became the end of November and it all changed when I was hit with huge revisions that took three weeks. All of a sudden, Jan 10 was way too soon and I was sick with The Cold and Christmas was looming and I was so tired I could hardly see straight.

Skip forward to Jan 27. That's the day that the Jan 10 book actually made it in, which was fine as a) my editor and I had discussed the inevitability of being late due to before Christmas revision chaos and b) there was actually some room in the schedule to play with. But still, I hate being late. HATE IT. So I decided then and there that I was still going to make my next deadline, which was April 1. No matter what.

Which meant 8 weeks to write the book. Which turned into six as I had two rounds of revisions on the last book. It meant February and March were greatly a blur of writing, kids being off school for either spring break or snow days, and another round of the flu. But I made it. On April 1 that book went in to my editor, and surprise surprise it turned out to be one of my favourites to write so far.


It was also the last book in my contract, and I know the next book won't be due for a while. So I'm left with nothing to do. AHHHHH BLISS!!!!!!!! The moment I hit that send button, it was like a whole world opened up!

But what do you do when there's nothing to do?

Well, you start out with doing a newsletter and updating your website. You catch up on promotion things on the go and e-mails that you've left by the wayside while you desperately tried to finish the last book. You critique and you write blog posts and preload them.

You actually do laundry and then cook your family a dinner that does not consist of chicken fingers, jarred pasta sauce or frozen pizza.

You clean your house and start the spring yard work and finish painting the risers of the stairs that you started eight months ago and left half way done. You actually consider what bulbs and shrubs you will add to the perennial bed, promising yourself that THIS YEAR you will have time to tend the garden as it should be tended.

You tackle the tbr pile or shelf and indulge in reading - something else that has fallen by the wayside in the deadline crunch.

You put in order your National Geographic, Travel and Leisure, RT and RWR magazines and dedicate an afternoon to nothing but magazine reading - all in the name of research, of course.

You walk an extra 2 miles a day with the dog because Nationals is coming up and you don't want to meet a bunch of people for the first time LOOKING LIKE THIS.

And you dust off the keyboard and get to work on that fun project you promised yourself you'd write WHEN YOU HAD TIME.

All in all, having nothing to do can sure be exhausting!

What things do you catch up on when "work" finally loosens it's chokehold? Post in the comments and I'll draw for an advance copy of my June release, Hired: The Italian's Bride!


Helen said...

Life really does go fast when you are having fun.

When I have time I read it is my favourite past time but I always try and get the housework done first then I don't feel at all guilty about sitting down with a great book.
I also love spending time with my grandchildren they are so much fun to be with.

Have Fun

housemouse88 said...

Hey Donna,

I don't have a job just an ordinary housewife. When I'm not doing all the everyday stuff like cleaning, washing clothes and dishes, I enjoy catching up on my TBR pile. Have a great day.

Donna Alward said...

There is no such thing as an ordinary housewife! I was a SAHM who found time to write for a couple of hours a day, but the rest of my time was never ordinary. SAHM's are unsung heroes in my opinion.

Grandchildren and reading sound good to me Helen!

sheandeen said...

Time? What is time? My time has been packed for years with tasks and deadlines. But on the rare occasion that I have some small amount of time, I read!

Maureen said...

When I have some time I definitely read and when the weather's nice I get out to work on the garden.

Virginia said...

When I have the extra time I try to catch up on house work that you do in the spring like the windows and things. I also love to take long walks and I love to read but I don't read until everything else is done.

Helena said...

Welcome to a preview of retirement! Beforehand, I was told by one retiree, "Make sure you have plans for all the hours you will have to fill," but another said, "I've never been busier!"

I looked forward to retirement as a time when I would do all the things I never had time to do before. The secret is you have to be firm with yourself, because you still have to make the time to do them or else you will fritter away the hours on inconsequential stuff, or doing things other people think you should or could do ("You must have time, you're retired.")

I have finally put writing first. I squeeze in family visits, other travel, and my lifelong essential activity (reading), around all the writerly activities I now allow myself to do.

I have very little time left for other things. (What do you mean ... housework?)

Caroline said...

Hi Donna - in some ways I'm the complete opposite of you! You do everything after the writing has finished. I do everything before the writing (if you catch my drift). My writing starts after the day job ends as well as the housework, dog walking, the blog site catch ups (too many btw - but I love blogging!) - THEN it's time to fire up the PC and carry on with the WIP, in the hope that one day I'll join the giddy heights of being published. Caroline x

Estella said...

I am retired and when I finish my household chores I READ!

Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, Donna, your post made me laugh... a bit hysterically. Having recently met a deadline, I'm trying to develop a carrot-approach to gardening (I loathe gardening). My garden really is a jungle (seriously), so I'm bribing myself with episodes of a sitcom I've recently discovered and love. Dig up one garden bed and I can watch an episode. Dig up another garden bed and I can watch another episode. And guess what, my garden is finally taking shape. But another deadline will loom soon...

Hmm, I can see there's a definite cyclical nature to this.

robynl said...

I cook what I call a 'meal' such as the other night I made Meat Loaf, baked potatoes and corn. A nice break from hamburgers, chili, chicken nuggets, etc.

I started going through receipts so shred the ones I don't need and let me tell you there are many.

I took hold of my laundry room and did some cleaning of clothes, etc.

I finally got some phone calls made to aunts, siblings

Donna Alward said...

Housemouse88 - you won the draw!

If you can send me your snail mail addy to donna @ donnaalward dot com (without spaces etc.) I'll put your book in the mail!