Monday, November 3, 2014

Under Pressure? All You Need is a Plan and a Process

(Editor's Note: This first Monday is generally slotted for the Letter from the Editor, but this month I am deferring to this timely post and its good advice for all things November. As a secondary benefit, it frees up a little time for your editor to log her 1667 daily NaNoWriMo words.)

By Donnell Ann Bell

"Pressure is something you feel when you don't know what the hell you're doing."  Peyton Manning

I love this statement by Peyton Manning. Mainly because Manning is one of those rare individuals who prepares and studies so much he’s always ready. Therefore, he has every right to make this claim.

Me? Not so much. Oftentimes, I’m so wrapped up on all those things I’m supposed to be doing, that I end up doing next to nothing. I have a book release coming November 7th. I’m supposed to be promoting. I have a book due next year. I’m supposed to be writing. People are talking about NaNoWriMo – I should be joining. And don’t look now, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I have company coming, and as I type this, there are 60 days until Christmas.

Sing along with Bon Jovi and me … Under Pressure.

I submit that of much of the pressure I’m feeling is self-imposed. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t developed a full understanding on how to accomplish it. No doubt about it, the upcoming months are the busiest times of the year. And even though the days seem to fly by, I have to remember there are 24-hours in a day.

NaNoWriMo is a wonderful opportunity to cast things aside and advance your works in progress. For the record, I was teasing about “should be joining.” I don’t do NaNo. I write junk when I do. But my friend, USA Today bestselling author Dale Mayer, writes an entire book during NaNo (and so do a lot of other people). It works for her. She knows her process.

My process when I write is to complete the first draft in shorthand, then transcribe, and finally I sit down at a keyboard. This may sound laborious, and it is. But something clicks in my brain when I write a novel this way, and by the time I get to the computer, I’m on a third draft of a book. It’s my process.

To develop that goal, however, I must first pave the way. So before I go to bed tonight, I’m going to make a list of those things I need to get done. When I’m truly organized--it has happened--I make a list. I post it on my computer screen. That way when I’m tempted to get on Facebook and play, that list is staring me in the face. Second, next to me as I type this are three empty notebooks along with my character outline.

Let’s get real. I will never, ever in my wildest dreams, be as prepared as Peyton Manning. But he offers such wise advice, don’t you think? So the first thing I’m going to do is turn in this blog and study the rest of my to-do list. I’ll allocate time for promotion, which I really don’t enjoy, and reward myself with the thing I love, and that’s creating.

Funny, the pressure I felt when I sat down to write this article has lessened. Maybe it’s because I’ve developed a plan, and in the words of Peyton Manning, I know what the hell I’m doing.

About the Author: Donnell Ann Bell grew up in New Mexico and today lives in Colorado. A homebody at heart, she leaves the international thrillers to world travelers, and concentrates on suspense that might happen in her neck of the woods – writing SUSPENSE TOO CLOSE TO HOME. She is the author of The Past Came Hunting, Deadly Recall and Betrayed, all of which have been e-book best sellers. Her fourth release, Buried Agendas, is due out November 7th and is available for preorder on Amazon Kindle. Her books have won or been nominated for prestigious writing awards, including The Epic Award for Best Thriller Suspense, Greater Detroit’s Booksellers Best for Best First Book and Best Single Title, and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery Suspense. Along with retired police officer veteran Wally Lind, Donnell co-owns Crimescenewriters, a Yahoo group for mystery/suspense writers.

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