Tuesday, August 16, 2011


By: Kathleen Pickering  www.kathleenpickering.com

heroin_powderDeadlines are like  heroin for me.

Hold on, now! Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never done heroin. And, I can say with an open heart and clean conscience that heroin is slotted nowhere in my life schedule.

However, I do have an addictive personality. So, I’m thinking that if it is irresistibly alluring to be addicted to something others consider awful, I am irresistibly addicted to deadlines!

I have self-published four books that required no deadlines. I had one other novel released by a publisher years ago. So, I’m pretty much a newbie to the workings from an editor’s desk. 

Well, last Thursday was my first deadline with Harlequin. (I know. Not a mystery, but hey, love can mislead one, kill another, or solve deep mysteries, no?) So, I am pleased to announced that I main-lined that first deadline directly to my editor’s in-box with time to spare.

What a freakin’ rush!!

That defining moment was capped with a lovely, complimentary email from my editor thanking me for meeting the short notice. She then went on to suggest that I should kick back and relax until the line edits came back.

I thought, “Huh? No way!” I NEED another deadline! That felt soooooo good. Having those characters run through my blood, live in my brain and rush into the keyboard to find a happily-eva-afta! I must, must, must do it again. Gotta have it!

But then, I thought. Hey, that was a lot of work. You don’t want to burn out. So, I took one day. Friday. I consciously wasted time to regroup, detox the adrenaline rush, and just enjoy that I’m a normal kind of gal. Maybe go shopping. Call a friend. Play with dolphins? 025_25

I’ve heard this sage advice from all my seasoned author friends: When you’re not BICHOK (Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard) be sure to waste your time consciously. Be aware that you have chosen not to write in order to regroup, percolate, smell the roses, drink the coffee and see what’s happening outside that closet in your mind.

Wasting time consciously in itself is healthy, but when you have an addictive personality such as mine, it’s hard to let go of the deadline craving. Without thinking twice, I may think I’m consciously wasting time, but I’m really using these hours to open a vein into which the next story can flow. (I’m sure the sage heads of those who know are nodding.)

The best high about being an author is that everything I do can trigger a story. I could, without trepidation, consciously waste time because the possibilities I might find would simply take me back to my dealer . . . um, I mean, editor.  (Coughing into fist with embarrassment.)It’s pretty clear that if I deliver another good story, she’ll give me what I crave most: a DEADLINE. Ahhh. It doesn’t get better than that.

So, I did it. I consciously wasted a day, with great abandon until the tug came back. The tremors began, and that hunger bit deep. I got on the keyboard to my editor and said, “Thanks for the excellent suggestion, but if you don’t mind, ten hours was enough. I’m hammering out my next proposal, immediately. I need another deadline fix. NOW!!

I should be feeling better soon folks. No worries. Smile

So, tell me, my writer, artist, and business-minded friends. How do you consciously waste time between creative processes in order to rejuvenate?


  1. How do I waste time? I mess around with my cars, go to restaruants, or head to the range. Funny hting though, like you pointed out most of those things inspire stories.

  2. I've wasted time unconscious before...I think.

  3. When I'm not writing, doing school, or working, I work on the creative outlets that I typically don't have time for, like music or painting. And of course there's lots of reading to do.

    ...or I just abandon all pretense of productivity and watch soccer, play soccer, play Fantasy Football, etc.

  4. Me? I never waste time. No, not ever.

    Singing and dancing in the living room ... not a waste

    Nerf gun wars with my kids ... never a waste

    riding my bike 30 miles along the trails in Anchorage...never a waste

    Building an entire civilization out of Legos and Lincoln Logs that covers the entire downstairs of our house ... not a waste

    Sitting in front of the TV watching four straight episodes of "How It's Made"...nope a very informative not-waste

    Sitting in front of same TV watching reruns of Giligan's Island on Netflix with a plate a nachos and a very large glass of Midnight Sun Breweries "Monk's Mistress Special Dark Ale"... certainly not a waste

    Doing my taxes ... okay...that's an utterly depressing waste of time

  5. I write 6 days a week and take Sundays off (most of the time). This "writing Sabbath" really works wonders. I come to the writing desk on Monday fully recharged.

  6. See? I'm not surprised to see you all consciously waste time so very well. . . except for Jordan, of course. She'll be waking up any moment now to discover that she's so good, she was making money unconscious!

  7. great post - I agree about taking the time to decompress - our brains work really, really hard!! My secret escape is reading - no - devouring the magazines by the check out line. Including National Enquirer, lol

  8. I can teach you how to waste time if you will teach me how to make those deadlines!
    Good Luck my friend and the luck of many sales too! You are one talented author and I am sooooo proud and happy for you! And not the least bit surprised at your recent sale to HQ!
    I have no doubt that you will meet every deadline they give you and will time to spare so you can have fun too!
    You are rockin' girl!

  9. How do I waste time? Oh, let me count the ways! Sudoku, floating in the pool, yoga, biking, browsing at the book store... you just can't BICHOK all the time, the soul and the creativity must regenerate! But what drives me at deadline time is FEAR, lol. I don't want to be "that problem author".

  10. (Hey, I can tell you how to waste time!) That is so cool that you love deadlines because being a published author let's hope you have many, many more to meet. Obviously, you love the process of writing so you look forward to doing it.

    What happens when you set a sel-imposed deadline? Does that ever work for you?

    Congrats on your book.
    Debbie Andrews

  11. So, nice to see my romance author comrades here! Traci, Mary, Allison and Deb . . . Helloooooo!!

    And, I KNOW you ladies are pros at wasting time consciously because your books are soooooo excellent! See you in the daydream isle!!
    xox, Piks