Living the Writer’s Life Not Behind the 8-Ball

Until about 20 years ago, I lived my life perpetually behind the eight-ball. In school, I delayed writing essays until the day before they were due. For my career, I chose journalism, where I had to write and edit under relentlessly intense deadlines. Even when I married, I found my dress only a week before the wedding. And honesty compels me to clarify that while I bought my (fancy) wedding blouse the week before, I had to have a matching skirt made, which I picked up only the day before.

So if you want to talk to me about leaving things ’til the last minute you need to know that I’ve already written an encyclopedia on the subject.

Living behind the eight-ball can be exciting but it’s also stressful. You end up feeling panicked much of the time. You can’t possibly make all the tweaks and corrections the perfect you would like; instead you have to be satisfied with simply finishing on time, rather than late. The coulda, woulda, shouldas can be both unappeasable and excruciating. (If you’d like to read more about organizing your life to avoid stress, try “5 Expert Tips on How to Survive 2020’s Overwhelming Media Onslaught.”)

Why did I live that way for so long? I wish I knew!

Planning ahead of time is ever so much sweeter. For example, I always write my weekly newsletter which is delivered on Tuesdays, on Thursdays. Of course, writing is only part of the job with this newsletter, and not the hardest one. For me the true challenge is coming up with the idea. I do that well ahead of time, too.

In fact, I need to do everything ahead of time, because in addition to my Tuesday newsletter I also blog four other days of the week. So here’s how my week goes:

  • Every Friday, I determine ALL of my subjects for the coming week. I even create little WordPress entries with a few notes about each topic.
  • Then, on Fridays, I write the Monday blog.
  • On Mondays, I write the Wednesday blog.
  • On Tuesdays, I write the Thursday blog.
  • On Wednesdays, I don’t write for you (or me); instead, I go downtown and write for a client.
  • On Thursdays, I write the script for my Friday video (usually a month in advance, because these have to be filmed).

As I was saying to a coaching client recently, it’s surprising how often writing becomes an issue of simple arithmetic. Give yourself some small, reasonable goals. Do them. And then you won’t be behind the eight-ball any more.

I just completed a Google search looking for the opposite of “behind the eight-ball.” says: “fortuitous, fortunate, lucky, well-off.” I disagree. It has nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with planning. ∞

Thanks for the image to kang_hojun on Pixabay.

About Author

Daphne Gray-Grant

Daphne Gray-Grant, principal of The Publication Coach, gives communications advice to corporations and provides support, advice and training to writers around the world. She is author of two bestselling books: 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better and Your Happy First Draft. Neither is available in bookstores or on Amazon. If you’re interested in buying go to her website.