freelance writing,  Lifestyle

Writing Rituals

Cleaning is something I feel compelled to do after a big deadline.

Writers sometimes talk about writing rituals. While I can’t say I have that many besides grinding away at deadlines, I do have a few post-deadline rituals I thought I’d share.

Since April of this year, I’ve been editing two monthly magazines. Both go to the printer around the same time, causing a whole lot of frenzy on my part about the third week of each month. Once I’ve finished wrapping up all the editing, writing captions, copywriting I’m responsible for, and proofreading Pdfs, I often look up and notice my house looks like a bomb went off inside of it. There’s dog hair everywhere, Post-It notes with scribbled notes lying around, along with pens, copies of previous issues of the magazine I use for reference, and piles of dirty laundry.

While I try to delegate some of these tasks to other members of the family, such as making or ordering dinner, vacuuming, washing clothes, we’ve all been working pretty hard since school started remotely for my teens in August. Add in a husband who has been working from home upstairs since mid-March, and there’d bound to be chaos.

Last week was hard. I had a lot of work to do and had trouble sleeping for three nights in a row. This weekend, once the final proofs for the magazines were approved, I began what I call my post-deadline ritual. I vacuumed. I mopped. I ordered all linens changed from family members. I made a half-hearted attempt to clean my bathroom. I did piles of laundry. I then decided I had way too many clothes in my closet that I was no longer wearing so I purged those. Today, after I schedule this post, I’m headed to the grocery store with my list in hand.

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I also cleaned out my e-mail inbox. Right after an issue goes to print I like to file all e-mails related to it, comb through my inbox for story ideas for the next issue (yes, planning immediately begins) and I request invoices from any writers who still need to send them so everyone can get paid.

When I worked on my weekly planner for this week, I wrote down “research, write and record a new podcast episode.” But as I sit here halfway through Monday, knowing I have travel plans later in the week, putting out a new episode doesn’t seem feasible. I took last week off from recording because of my magazine deadline. I think I’m better off taking my time on the next couple of scripts (there are some great ones planned) and then getting back on schedule next week. It’s the gracious thing to do for my mind and body since I have a few other freelance projects I’m also working on. The good news is that “Missing in the Carolinas” has officially surpassed 6,000 downloads. I received a lovely e-mail from a family member whose siblings were profiled in Episode 11. I never expected that my little podcast would reach listeners all over the country, but it has and I couldn’t be more proud. That’s why I don’t want to rush the production process unless I have to.

I’m curious if any other writers out there have post-deadline rituals. Do you order dinner in? Go out? Purge your closets? Clean your house? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one with this strong urge to get things back in order once a whirlwind of a deadline has passed.

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