Running With Your Hair on Fire
by Jennifer AlLee
Many moons ago, when I lived in the wilds of Ohio (not really the wilds... but it was cold during the winter, so the whole experience seems much more primitive than it really was), I worked for a major cable company. My boss was the Director of Tech Ops for the Division. He was a great guy and I loved working with him, but for some reason, lots of other people in the Division ended up calling us for assistance. Either they needed him to do something special (i.e., they needed a technician at an important customer's home in twenty minutes) or they needed my help. Word got around that I was good with words and with design, so I ended up making posters, banners, newsletters... you name it, I got asked to do it. And when the president's secretary calls and requests five posters for tomorrow's meeting, you drop everything and get it done. So there were times when it was a struggle not just to get my own work done on time, but all this other "good will work" that my boss and I did.
I never forgot that day because he was right. As much as I disliked having to meet crazy deadlines that resulted from other people not being prepared, I greatly preferred it to sitting around doing nothing.
Flash forward 20-ish years. I'm a full-time writer (notice I didn't say I make a living as a writer, just that I write full-time. LOL) This means I have almost complete control over my daily schedule. Sounds great, doesn't it? All that freedom to write and create... how could anyone fail to be productive in a situation like that?
Let me tell ya, folks... "freedom" comes with a price. I know there are some writers out there who handle their time beautifully. I am not one of them. I need deadlines. When I'm faced with an expanse of open time and no definite goal in sight, I flounder.
I've been incredibly blessed in my career. My calendar for this year shows book deadlines on February 1st, April 1st, and May 1st. I'm working like crazy. I'm writing just about every minute I can. I'm running a hundred miles an hour with my hair on fire. And I love it. Deadlines don't smother me, they release me. I'm more creative and more productive because I have to be.
What happens when I hit all my deadlines? Then I'm back to motivating myself in a big sea of open space, and praying for new contracts with new deadlines. I used to get irritated with myself, but now I realize it's just how I operate.
And what's the moral to this story? Well, I guess it's that what works for me won't necessarily work for you. We all need to find the way we function best, and roll with it. However, that doesn't mean I'm not interested in pointers. So share with us how YOU do it... what works for you? And if anybody out there is like me, tell me what you do during the times when your hair isn't ablaze.
JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's thrilled to be working on her first historical series with the amazing Lisa Karon Richardson. Diamond in the Rough is the first book in the Charm and Deceit series, to be released May 2013 by Whitaker House. And... as if that's not enough, her novella Comfort and Joy will appear in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories (Barbour, 9/13) She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.