by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan
Every published writer experiences it—having no deadlines. Of course, not having a deadline usually means they don’t have contracted novels. I’ve been there. Right now, I’m in a unique place—I’m contracted, but I don’t have a deadline yet because I’m working on a proposal to submit to my editor for the contracted novel.
However, when I turned in my previous manuscript, I was between deadlines, meaning I don’t have any contracted projects at that time to rush into plotting. While that was good to allow myself time to relax after back-to-back deadlines, it didn’t help the bank account.I needed the downtime. I needed to refresh my spirit and refuel my writing energies.
Here are five suggestions for others who may find themselves between deadlines or without contracts yet:
- Breathe. Maybe you’ve put in long hours finishing up your manuscript before your deadline. Or perhaps, you’re still waiting for that offer to come through. Either way, take time to simply breathe…relax. I submitted one of my manuscripts during a family crisis, which tripled the stress level. But, once I turned it in, I was able to exhale and know I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
- Give Thanks. Yes, that’s right. Thank God for His provision, wisdom, and help during your deadline. Thank those who helped you to the finish—family, supportive friends, craft partners, prayer partners, and writing team. Many say writing is a solitary occupation. While I agree to a point, I know I’m where I am today because of my writing team—editor, agent, mentors, prayer partners, craft partners, and of course, my supportive family and friends.
- Reflect. Take some time to reflect about your previous deadline. Review the highlights and the struggles. What was the biggest challenge for you? What areas went well for you? I struggled with the plot for my latest manuscript, but after a couple of conversations with my editor, we worked out the problems, and I was able to move forward. However, I had less time to write, so I needed to write smarter. Also, I was still dealing with the aftermath of a particular family crisis, so that affected my attention. For future deadlines, I’d planned to ensure my plots are solid from the beginning.
- Grow. Take advantage of this time between deadlines to strengthen your craft. No matter where you are in your writing career, you need to keep learning. I’ve been reading James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From the Middle and Amanda Luedeke’s The Extroverted Writer. Additionally, I’ve pulled out my My Book Therapy work texts from my past MBT retreats to review material to make brainstorming my next novel less stressful.
- Move Forward. Like I said, being between deadlines allows for necessary downtime, but it doesn’t help the bank account. In order to grow your business and readership, continue focusing on new projects. For me, this means reviewing career goals with my agent and determining the next steps to meet those goals. Talk with your writing team—editor, agents, mentors, craft partners and set SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely—goals for new opportunities. Set out in faith and challenge yourself with expanding your career. Consider speaking and teaching if you’re qualified. Learn about hybrid publishing if you’re interested in leaning in that direction. Wise counsel will enable you to determine future projects.
Having deadlines is an incredible blessing, but there are times when they can stress you out, especially if the days are flying off the calendar faster than your fingers can dance across your computer keys. Just know you’re not alone—millions of writers are there with you, and your editor and agent are only a phone call or an email away. Taking time to assess your story and laying that foundation from the very beginning will help you to write smarter, not harder. That way, when you submit your manuscript by the contracted deadline, you can do so with peace in your spirit, knowing you did your best. Remember to breathe, give thanks, reflect, learn, and move forward so you can begin the cycle all over again, but this time, you’ll do it more effectively.
Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.
Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.