My Nan told me once that wishing Happy New Year after the 1st of JanuaryÂ was bad luck, so I won’t do itÂ but you know what I’m saying, right?
Another busy year full of exciting projects, then me and Mr. M got married (checkÂ the name change to Lee-Mackie) but I did manage to take a couple of weeks off over Christmas for the first time in four years. Yay. I needed it. Writing and illustrating for children is fun but there’s a bit more to it than that. Sometimes you have to go on autopilot to get through the workload. That’s when you know it’s time to down tools for a bit. The real problem pops up when you can’t because your deadline is three days away and you have 16 roughs to complete. That is not a good place to be.
Most illustrators and creative types will know what I meanâ€”authors would call it writers block. Some of us deal with it by developing chronic procrastination until the day before our deadline and then weep as we slog through the night to get it done. Missing a deadline is bad. Baaaad. So you keep going until the end is in sight. You wrangle with FTP upload systems and have to keep uploading the same three files that refuse to go quietly. Your eyes are bloodshot. You’ve eaten all the biscuits. You’re swearing uncontrollably and wondering if the client is going to send in the dogs. Suddenly,Â it happens. They all upload *PING*. You laugh and smile at your screen like it’s just presented you with an Oscar.
Then you get an automated email response from your (very lovely and knows not of how much you’ve procrastinated to this point) client that says something along the lines of:
I’m away until next week. I’ll be in touch when I get back. Laters.
Then you weep again.
And this is just for the roughs.
I’m relivingÂ this so you understand why I needed that break. I’m now back at my desk (I was still here a bitâ€”playing scrabble, sharpening my pencils and doing Buzzfeed quizzes) and happily working away. I have three and a half new stories written, I’m working with Macmillan (US) and Hodder on pretty spiffy projects and really looking forward to the year ahead. After putting on a successful ‘Portfolio Crash’ course near the end of last year I’m thinking of developing a couple more to run over summer. Everything is rosy.
So while I’m in positive go-gettem’ mode, my work manifesto for this year looks something like this:
Make an amazing social media plan
Edit my manuscripts and dummiesÂ alongside other projectsÂ instead of waiting for a clear block
Less procrastination and biscuit eating
Sharpen more pencils with my electronic sharpener (because it’s fun)
I hope you all manage to take some time to sharpen your pencils and do other things whenever you can, whatever you do. I even managed to fit a snowboarding lesson and Star WarsÂ in before any spoilers. Let the world be your oyster. Even if it’s only for a day.