Saurav Mohapatra Presents:
Diapers and Deadlines
Every writer fears that deadly monster that lurks in the sands of time waiting to strike at one when one least expects – The Deadline Dragon. The dragon is a chameleon; it can camouflage itself under various hues, innocuously lying in wait, growing stronger with each passing moment and then when it is time, BOOM!
Okay all hyperbole aside, juggling deadlines is an art every writer must master. The comics have to go out on time and that's non negotiable. Given the involvement of many different parties in the pipeline, it is actually a collective responsibility and any editor worth his or her salt will crack the whip at the right points of time to hasten things along.
But as the writer seeds of the process, any delay that starts at this phase usually amplifies further and finally there is a mad rush to get the book off to press, which opens up the door to the lesser cousins of the Deadline Dragon, the Typo Gremlins :)
Recently in February my wife and I had our first child and boy, does the Deadline Dragon hate babies. I found that going was tough, much tougher than I had anticipated. I had three monthlies and three 48 page one shots to get out of the way. But once little Adya sauntered into our life, all my schedules went haywire .Diapers eat up the clock like anything, the sleepless nights and the continuous wailing does not help either. On the positive side, it was an absolute joy to see my daughter say smile for the first time. So it kind of made up for all the shit.
Okay! I'm digressing, back to the Dragon. So here are a couple of tips that usually work while juggling deadlines.
a) Reply to your emails / requests for script/synopsis ASAP. If like me you are not that organized a person, you'll find that by getting rid of stuff off your plate as soon as they show up, you'll have less accumulation of pending tasks. Also once you get used to it, it is a very refreshing way of juggling multiple properties.
b) Don't get stuck on one thing for too long. Usually it is all too common to get stuck (the fabled "Writer's Block"), when your mind clams up and you sit at the keyboard holding your fingers couple of inches above itching to type, yet nothing springs to mind. Usually I deal with this by just doing something else. I go for a walk or a drive. Usually a walk in the cold air or a drive along the interstate clears my mind up. Other things I've tried are watching a movie, reading some of my favorite comic books again. Your personal mileage may vary.
c) Constant communication and evaluation. Always check up constantly with your editor as to what the schedule is and let them know where you are. Communication is the key. Usually a brief status email every couple of days not only helps the editor know where you are, but writing it down also helps you plan out your next couple of days.
d) If you know you're due for a life changing event (like getting married or having a baby), plan in advance. I can't stress this point enough. If you try to juggle life and comics the same way as you did usually, something like say having a baby can throw you curveballs like hell. My advice would be to plan some "fallow period" so that you either get all the pending stuff out of your plate with time to spare and then plan your future projects with a suitable gap that allows you to enjoy these moments of your life which are very unique.
Hope that helps you in combating the Deadline Dragon. Now back to my books.
Back! Back! You filthy dragon! I've got a fountain pen with a sharp nib and I'm not afraid to use it!
'Till next time, Toodles!
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