Pretty much everyone I know lives with a deadline of some kind. Most of my writing friends know the squeeze of a writing-rewriting-promoting deadline. Sure, being a writer is a lot of fun (in our dreams) but there is nothing fun about a deadline. Have you done your taxes this year? The deadline for that always half kills me. Are you a teacher? Deadlines every day. Student? Tests. I understand the awful stress of deadlines. It’s even worse when you have more than one in a row.
Yesterday, we had a tight deadline that was going to affect our future. We HAD to get an eight-year-detailed application completed and sent (and paid for) in a very short period of time. It had come as a surprise to Mel and me because they changed the requirements. That was NOT nice. But I digress.
Once we got everything completed and sent via UPS, Mel and I both felt as if we’d had a huge load lifted. So we did what we often do when we’re celebrating (you should always celebrate when you meet a deadline. Celebrating is serious business.)
We drove to one of our favorite local national monuments where there are hiking trails, and we explored a trail we’d never followed before. Next, I want to hike the portion of the old Oregon Trail, which I saw when it was too late to do more hiking.
You might prefer to eat out at your favorite restaurant and have your favorite meal. Pig out! You might prefer to hug your kids (or spoil your cats, as we did.) You might want to call your parents or friends if you’re an extrovert, or take a drive in the country, watch a movie, become a couch potato for the evening, read a favorite book by a favorite author. All I’m saying is that it helps so much when you’re recovering from the stress of a deadline to do something to relax.
No time? Got to get back to work, hit the next book, attack the things that have been piling up (like my dishes and laundry) and keep working? Maybe you could find a few minutes to just breathe, close your eyes, thank God that the hard part is over, or pray for strength as you continue the slog. I once had a friend who would relieve her stress by totally destroying a loaf of bread. My bread is gluten free, so I would never waste that much money, but hey, if it’s something you feel would help you relax, go for it.
Stress builds up in our bodies, and if we don’t release it that poison can do a nasty attack at some time in the future. I was once on such a tight deadline and my new editors were harassing me so often WHILE I WAS ON VACATION that I developed symptoms of fibromyalgia. It took years to recover. Don’t let anyone do that to you. I’m now my own publisher because of that experience. Turn off your cell phone if you have to. Unplug your landline if you have one. Health is more important than giving in to the demands of a clueless person who isn’t in your shoes.
In the end, ask yourself how vital that deadline is. Yes, if your career is on the line, you need to get ‘er done. But after that sucker’s met and completed? Celebrate! The more the better. It’ll do you a world of good.