Two weeks ago, I emerged from my writer’s cave after finishing a book. Friends and family urged me to celebrate the accomplishment. Those who know me best, however, stayed out of my way because I resembled a grizzly bear that awakened from a long hibernation—groggy, growly, and ready to snap at anything that moves. Not only could my appearance, as well as demeanor, have terrorized the neighborhood, but my writing ability plunged to an all-time low.
Now, having recovered somewhat, I join my husband in offering a few survival tips for those near and dear, including critique partners and writing friends, in how to tame a post-deadline writing bear.
Let the bear sleep. In fact, encourage the bear to snooze extra minutes in the morning, to retire early at night, to take naps. Nothing will increase the life expectancy of those in a writing bear’s path like a few additional zzz’s. Conversely, nothing will guarantee the loss of at least one limb like the question, “Why are you so tired? You don’t work.”
Give the bear some honey. In the face of bared fangs, this presents a challenge even tougher than letting her/him sleep. But trust us, it works. When insecurity looms 3.5 seconds after the author hits send, pour on reassurance: “You’re a good writer. You worked hard on this book.” Even better: “We prayed about this book. God will use it.” Accompanied by bear hugs (also chocolate and other sweet things), this approach can’t go wrong.
Kick the bear in the butt. Only use this tactic when the other two have been applied assiduously. If, after generous amounts of sleep and support, the bear remains unbearable and spends valuable writing time playing infinite games of free cell or watching Saved By the Bell reruns and the insurance channel, do what you’ve been aching to do for months. Give the bear a good boot in the bootie: “God has gifted you. Is this the way you propose to use His gifts?” Then again offer honey from the Rock in the form of questions like “What would you really like to write? What has God been saying to you that should come out in your next book?”
So far, these tips have helped tame this writing bear recover. Any hints on how to handle the animal at your house?