Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Jail

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm sure everyone is tired of me going on about the book I am about to finish. I've only been saying that for months. But I really am about to finish the book, hopefully in the next few days. See that stack of pages there, beside the cat? (And excuse the blatant self-advertising. That really is what's on my desk, because I keep referring to previous books.)

That's almost five-hundred pages, which means that this book had better be finished, asap. It also means that I've been working like mad, and for the last couple of months have been in what we here at JRW refer to as BOOK JAIL

That means writing and nothing but writing. And in the meantime, I have developed a post-book to-do list that looks like this:

--Do tax return (yes, I filed an extension. Doesn't everyone?)
--Catch up on the last six months filing.
--Update webpage.
--Write and publish newsletter.
--Have upstairs carpet cleaned (or replaced.)
--Get hubby to power wash house.  Ha.
--Have windows cleaned.
--Take both dogs and at least two of the three cats to vet for checkups. (Get out credit card.)
--Repair innumerable (and expensive) neglected household things, like cat-shredded wallpaper.
--Replace (expensive) dishwasher.
--Schedule all routine postponed doctors appointments. (You know, the really fun stuff...) (Get out credit card.)
--Do loads of chores in garden in 100 degree heat and 90 % humidity.
--Etc, etc....

Now, I ask you, who would finish a book, with those things to look forward to? (Other than because of the fairly major matter of a paycheck...)

So, humans supposedly working better on a reward rather than a punishment system, I decided I should make a new to-do list, as follows. When I turn in the manuscript, I will:

--Call much-neglected long-distance friends and talk as long as I want.
--Have much-neglected local friends over for wine and snacks.
--Go out to dinner someplace nice with hubby.
--See the new Bourne movie at the iPic when it comes out the end of July.
--Have postponed mother-daughter-granddaughter dinner out for daughter's birthday (which was last Saturday.)
--Go SHOPPING. (Even a necessary trip to Target tonight was a big adventure.) (Maybe summer clothes will still be on sale!)
--Read a book--any book--all day. Just because I want to.
--Actually use the hammock before the summer is over.
--Set up the hillbilly hot tub before the summer is over.
--Cook something just for fun, not just to get dinner on the table in the shortest amount of time so I can go back to work.

--Take lots of naps.
--Plan trip to England.


So the question is, dear REDS and readers, how do you get yourselves through the end of a very long project? Whips? Or rewards? And if rewards, what are they? (We don't need to know about the whips...)

In the meantime, I have a chapter to finish. And I might just make myself that root beer float I've been thinking about for a month...


  1. Although I have no must-finish project that approaches the seriousness of needing to finish writing a book, I have an unfortunate tendency to procrastinate and it’s often more a case of getting myself started on whatever it is that I need to do than promising rewards when I’ve completed the task. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet discovered a cure for procrastination other than simply deciding to tackle the task . . . .

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  3. Love the reward list, Debs!

    When I finish a difficult project I reward myself with a pint of Häagen-Dazs Rum Raisin ice cream and an iced tea spoon.

  4. I usually get a nice bottle of bubbly and share that with Hugh. But I also usually need to get started on the next book, and it's so fun to start writing a brand new story that it's a kind of reward. MUCH more fun than deep cleaning my office...

  5. When the book is done? SLEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!!!

  6. Our sympathies are with you Debs--but you are soooooo close! I love both of your lists--even the mundane things like clearing off a desk begin to look appealing when you can't do them:)

    And it is fun Edith, to have the luxury of thinking about something new--maybe not as quickly as you do!

  7. A cup of (hot) tea and a watch of an episode or several of a favourite series. Currently, am re-viewing all of Downton Abbey, which is a delicious indulgence.

  8. I'm all for rewards--small, incremental ones--if you finish x-number of pages/a chapter, I can go to the hardware store and pick up the AC filter (just getting out of the house is a treat!). And bigger rewards--when this project is finished, I'm going to order a new swing for the backyard so I can actually enjoy the backyard before summer is over--and plan a weekend get-away with my sisters--

    And I can't wait for those 500-pages or so to be in my hands, Debs!!

  9. My reward is the do-nothing day. Not that I do nothing, but I don't do anything that is on a list. From the moment I get up, I wander around doing whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes folding laundry and cleaning strikes my fancy, especially if I suddenly notice how bad the house looks. Sometimes it's laying around all day reading a book. One time I followed the dogs around. I slept when the slept, went out when they went out (but I just watched). Freaked them out.

  10. I'm definitely in the reward camp. And Keenan has the right idea. I usually reward myself with a "day off" where I don't have to do anything writing related. Just read, nap, lounge around - completely lazy and no lists!

  11. Yesterday I was on Amazon and saw the publication date of February 2017 for Garden of Lamentations. I was so excited! Your fans appreciate the time you've spent in Book Jail, Debs, and are going to eat up this new book.

    Hmm. I do tend to procrastinate. I try to set deadlines, but that doesn't always work. A reward at the end of a task is helpful and usually involves a book and reading. Oh, I just looked at the clock, and I'm due in the shower in three minutes.

  12. Sit out on the deck in the morning and enjoy the garden. After all the work of Fall (weeding, compost), Winter (weeding, pruning) and Spring (planting, staking, feeding), the payoff is now, and I want to drink it in, along with coffee with (oh, the indulgence!) some Irish Cream in it.

  13. I feel more like I've been in Book St. Helena than Book Jail, it's been so long. In the past, finishing the books has usually meant SLEEP (because I always finish in a week-long blur of staying up late and writing eight hours a day), a nice dinner out with Ross, and then cleaning the house.

    Yes, it's on Debs' bad to-do list, but one of the things that really bugs me when I'm in writing mode is that I'm only ever just keeping up with the house. I enjoy doing all the organizing and tidying I never get to while finishing a book. Also, it's nice to have people drop by and NOT have to apologize for the condition of the kitchen!

  14. Oh dear Deb, you're coming down to the nut cuttin', as some say in East Texas. Your lists are frabjous.

    I've never been in book jail, but I have a whole list of things to do when I get out of kitchen jail. The first one is to bake something. Haven't had an oven since mid-May.

    Take heart my friend. I'll buy you a drink when I come to Dallas this fall.

  15. Yes, Julia, me, too. I left off other really important things like clean out the utility room. And, oh heavens, the drawers in my bathroom... I'm lucky to find a lipstick, assuming I am wearing any these days...

    I love the do-nothing day idea. I'd love to sit on my deck in the morning when it's shady and cool, and actually enjoy the garden.

    I think if I followed the dogs around all day it would totally freak them out! Although dogs and cats are usually in the room with me when I'm writing.

  16. DO NOTHING. Really. A do nothing day is an incredible joy. Like Richard, sit in the garden and take it all in.

    But first, I come out of my study, and run around the house like Rocky. I confess this to you all because I know it's just us. It's very very rewarding.

    Yay, Debs! (I just pushed through the 30,000 mark. and it was SO HARD! It's not supposed to be easy though. Right?)


  17. I think Hanks advice is good. When I've been through a stressful time I just sit somewhere beautiful and let myself just be. Of course I can't complain as I've had six weeks in Europe. I had to work part of that, teaching in Tuscany, but it was lovely and relaxing too. Now it's all focus in high gear as I have one and a half books to write this year.

  18. Book jail! I love that term for it--just perfect. I'm in book jail right now. I've been suffering over how to end the WIP for so long that I gave up and started the second draft, hoping that once I got to my problem spot I'd magically know what to write. Didn't work like that ... But I'm getting there.

    One thing that's helping me get through right now is gardening. Maybe it's a procrastination measure (my garden is looking better and better :-)), but I swear it's helping relax my brain and allowing the magic marination process to occur.

    My goal is to finish to "the end" by this Friday. (Yay!) And then for the long Fourth weekend? NADA. Nothing. Zippo. Fini with tasks lists for a few days. Naps and friends and reading a book I've been saving (WHAT SHE KNEW) and hopefully a marathon Game of Thrones. And gardening. :-)

  19. Being a caregiver for my elderly parents has put a big dent in my writing, but not my reading at night and sometimes in the morning. (I'm currently reading Rhys's MALICE AT THE PALACE) But I do treasure my few "do-nothing" days.

    Ann in Rochester, you made me laugh at the phrase "nut cuttin'", as we've lived in East TX since 1984, but haven't heard that term in a long while, since all the old-timers are mostly gone now, along with a lot of local phrases.

    Oh, I also like naps, too!

  20. Doin' nutting is the best reward! Doin' it with a good book even better. A day on the hammock, wine on the table and all will be well in my world. Push on Debs!