Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How I'm surviving a deadline

Like many of us, time is a precious commodity when under a deadline, possibly up there with caffeine. I’m a writer, a full time secretary, a wife, a dog owner, an aunt, and a pretty wicked cupcake maker. And don’t tell my editor, but I’m still cranking out pages for the second book in the Diaries of an Urban Panther series. Days are usually something like this:

Wake up
Work for nine hours
Drive home in rush hour traffic and 110 degree heat
Feed my husband and the pups
Do other household chores so my house doesn’t look like something from Hoarders
And then I open up the laptop and start typing for about 5 hours. Some days I use an egg timer and some days I forget to look at the clock all together and end up writing until 2 am.

There’s not a lot of time for Amanda. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. But my brain hurts! Its sort of a rattley feeling, like pennies in a coffee can. The planning of a hostile take over of the Dallas Metroplex is very hard work and might be literally sucking my brain dry. The 31 days of triple digit temperatures isn’t helping either.

According to an article I read in PARADE at two in the morning, fifteen minutes is all it takes to change your day and make you feel happier and refreshed.

15 minutes? I can spare 15 minutes so I won't go completely insane.

So now, I’m trying to be mindful of taking break brains. Just like how every 55 minutes you should stretch your hands to prevent carpal tunnel, I’m taking 15 minutes every 4 hours to rejuice my brain.

They seem to be working. The three keys are quick, cheap, and effective.

Looking at something pretty helps. My pretty of choice these days is Jensen Ackles and James Mcavoy. Just a simple image search on the internet and there is something relaxing about just looking at a page of a pretty man staring back at you. But technically, you’re still at the computer, and the mind might not equate that with relaxing. Sometimes you have to get away from the computer screen.

Recently, I’ve rediscovered nail polish. It’s quick and pretty and something that I can focus on something that’s not work, the house, or the hell that I’m putting my main character Violet through. I’ve also discovered crackle nail polish. Addicted! My current favorite combination is neon pink under a grey crackle. Right now, I’m wearing purple under silver sparkles. My husband said that it reminded him of my book cover. Which inspired me to do InterVamption toes (Kristin Miller’s new novel): blood red under a black crackle. It looks pretty wicked.

If the nails are in good shape, I find that making tea is a good way to break away for a while. There is something in the ritual to boiling the water and steeping the tea that is calming. And you get a yummy treat when you’re done!

The last thing I now look forward too at night is playing with my dogs. Unfortunately, when I’m under dead line, I tend to just sit for hours with my laptop and my dogs have learned to despite it. I think they are planning a hostile kidnapping and one of these days I'm going to find it burried under a tree. So playing with them for 15 minutes a night relaxes me and makes sure that my computer will survive another day.


What do you guys use for your brain breaks? What small treats do you give yourself after a rough day of work when you’ve only got a few moments to rejuvenate? You share yours and I’ll share mine. The best/creative/innovative /cost effective comment will get a small set of crackle nail polish to help with your brain breaks.

Amanda Arista
Twitter: @pantherista


Mel Teshco said...

Hi Amanda,

and whoa!! that's one busy life you have!!
My brain break from writing and the stresses of life is horse riding with my 2 daughters. There's something so rejuvenating about that (unless the horses are being naughty of course lol!)

Helen Lowe said...

Hey Amanda,

I like to get up and make myself a cup of real coffee as opposed to instant, but I can't do that too often in a day so a walk by the river is also a good longer 'time out' for me.

Terri Garey said...

Cool nail polish! I need some... where do you buy it?

When my brain needs a break, I go outside and water my flowers, or play a computer game. I have to be careful not to get sucked into those, unfortunately, and set myself a time limit!

Cute doggie, Amanda! ;)

Anonymous said...

SWEET. Short brain breaks are important. Here's a few I do. ... :)

Dust: Yep. I get out the Endust, clear off my desk and clean it up. Something about a fresh smelling, clean desk gets me motivated to start typing/editing again.

Make dinner: I try and make dinner for my sweet hubby each night since I'm home every day. So, if I'm stuck, I just cook dinner (and try not to burn down the house in the process.) Doing something for him (or another person) gets my mind of my stuff for a bit and I can refocus after that.

Put on one of my favorite action scenes on: Yep, my current favorite movie right now is I Am Number Four. There are a few wicked-awesome fight scenes in that movie. That gets me all energized. :)

Great post. This was fun!


Alicia0605 said...

My niece asked me a few months back why I couldnt juggle and she told me I would be cool if I could learn so now when I need a break I get me a few apples and have at it with the juggling training. I have to admit once you get the hang of it its not so bad!! I usually treat myself to a peanut butter cup and a cup of chocolate milk!!

SJ Drum said...

I usually don't find time for myself, even if it's only a few minutes, until well after the kids and my husband are asleep. It's my special treat to shut down the computer and take time to read. Especially if I'm stuck on a certain scene in my book, reading one of my favorite authors is a great refresher.

If all else fails, 90 seconds or so with the detachable shower-head is bound to improve any woman's day ;-)

Danielle Gorman said...

When my brain needs a break I like to listen to music. It helps get everything flowing for me. Sometimes even doodling will help too.

Danielle @Ramblings From This Chick

rhomitz said...

My down time/relax time is my reading. When my girl's are in bed and my husband is upstairs I sit down by mysel and go into the book. I become part of the storyline and just let myself go. It is so relaxing and comforting to me after a long day of work, family, and lie.

Casey said...

Painting my nails always makes me happy too!! But something else that's totally fun/relaxing to do - when I'm driving around town, I turn the radio up really loud and sing along just as loudly. And every once in a while, I'll even dance in my seat (when I'm at a red light). I usually sing along with old 80s songs, 'cause those are the best =)

But if you don't drive that often, or have other people in the car with you, you can do it at home insted! Plus, at home, you have the option of dancing like Kevin Bacon in Footloose! (I'm just a wee bit obsessed with the 80s.)


Amanda Arista said...

These are some great ideas.
Keep posting and I'll keep trying them out to see which one works best!

Sable said...

A glass of wine and a good book is usually my indulgence of choice. Sometimes in a bath. Sometimes on the patio. Or, believe it or not, turning the music up loud in the kitchen and dancing around with my wine while doing dishes or laundry is quite nice ME time. Even if it does involve chores. There's something calming about nurturing yourself while doing something to nurture your family (like cooking!), but I always suggest wine accompany it!

Heather (Sable)

Bonnie said...

Hi Amanda,
I walk my dog arround the block or hula hoop for a while to loud music. I liked reading your post, it's good to know other people suffer the same schedule I do.
Bonnie Gill

Meg said...

Whoops! I posted earlier but forgot my email. Here's the post, this time with my email!

"AH! Prize 1 please!

I read This Side Of The Grave right after my Aunt had passed away suddenly, so I was very attached to the storyline with Don. I was bawling when he died and was over joyed when it was revealed that he was a ghost!

I'm so happy that after all that Cat has been through, she still has her family!"

dev said...

When it comes to taking a brain break I like to take a warm bubble bath. I light some candles dim the lights and relax. If I don't dim the lights then I read a book.

Another way I take a brain break is to jump on the bed. Growing up mom said you should never jump on the bed, but I can't help it ... even as an adult I still LOVE jumping on the bed.


Sharon said...

I know everyone is going to hate me for this, but cleaning something helps me . I can get the dishwasher loaded/unloaded or vacuum one room or empty all the bathroom trashcans. There is a sense of getting something accomplished and it helps me focus on finishing other tasks I might be putting off.

My daughter loves the crackle polish!

Chelsea B. said...

Dude! That polish sounds awesome!! I heart painting my nails :-)
When I need something to clear my brain, I take a shower. Now, I know that sounds all blah blah blah, but it really works for me. The hot water calms my nerves and I always feel better after getting fresh and clean.
Enjoy your fifteen, however you spend it! :-)


Anonymous said...

I usually pick up a coloring book and crayons when I need a break. It's always been something that I find calming.

Amanda Arista said...

Thank you all for your comments. I actually found lots of them good ways to focus on something else (and my house is a little cleaner for it).
The giveaway goes to