Written by Jannelle Moore
As authors and publishers, we revel in our late nights and early mornings. We pride ourselves on parking our asses in that chair with our eyes crammed in that computer, as we crank out thousands of words and multiple chapters a day. For the publishers out there, you cradle that phone or that tablet and strategize and network. You battle distributors to make sure your label is represented. You gloss over countless submissions, draw up contracts, and set the prices of books.
Pandora, drinks and junk food our chosen fuel, pushing us through to completion, as we charge towards that dead-line. We sacrifice sleep, decent food, and time away from our friends and family to get our creative statement, our latest vision out to the masses.
This way of life is the standard for us in the literary world and while some of us like to brag about creating and handling business under “extreme” conditions, I think that it’s imperative in our creative processes (and for the sake of our sanity and health) to take breaks in between. There’s no shame in slowing down to regain focus, when it starts to drift or when you are getting consumed with your project to the point where you are so tired that you can’t even walk outside to your patio without wanting to collapse. Without rest and some time away from the manuscript, you will lose focus. You’ll lose focus because your need for sleep, a break, and food will eventually trump your will to keep going and it will show. Your daily performance will fall off, making those sacrifices in vain.
Recently, I finished writing “Uppity”, which is my second full- length novel, after a three novella series, and my outlet was my p90x workout and a mid- book break of a week. During my break, I caught up on rest, my friends and family. My workouts gave me an outlet and for an hour a day, I didn’t think about “Uppity” or the fact that this was my first time writing in the first person. All I was focused on was the workout and the foundation of a lean, toned body. I know if it weren’t for those two things, I’d be a wreck and those habits would have caught up with me and knocked me on my ass.
To break it all down, what I’m trying to say is this: We are authors and publishers and we do work odd hours. We sacrifice meals and sleep to get our voices out to the world to entertain and inspire. In our process, we shouldn’t forget who we are and our needs outside of the business. I am far from the most balanced, but, it’s worth it to at least try to create some. It will be worth it for me, as an author and as a woman, to balance. And it will be worth it, for all of us in the industry to remember to take time for self and those around you, to unplug. Your bodies will thank you as well as your novels.