I saw some Tweets today about how this pandemic thing is especially hard for “planners”—people who plan things in advance as a way to achieve a sense of control over their lives—because it’s no longer possible to make any long-term plans at all. Wow, I get this. I have life plans that I’ve been thinking about and working toward for years that are now totally up in the air. It’s disheartening, but I know I’m fortunate to be healthy and financially stable, so I’m trying not to get too down about it.
The other thing planning is good for is giving you something to pleasantly anticipate. I’ve had depressive episodes in the past (haven’t had one in a long time, knock on wood) and one of the ways the depression manifests for me is a feeling that there’s nothing good on the horizon to look forward to. That feeling looms as reality these days, but I’ve found that I can identify very small things to look forward to on a daily basis, and that helps. For instance, several weeks ago I ordered some new yarn for a knit-along that’s going on on the internet right now, and I can look forward to making a little bit of progress on my project each day and posting pictures to Instagram using the shared hashtags. Knitting also gives me a mental distraction while I’m doing childcare: even though I can’t actually work on my project while running after my kids, I can think about the next color yarn I’m going to use or the next pattern I’m going to work on when I finish this one. For other people, thinking about their sourdough starter or whatever it is probably scratches the same itch.
Maybe for you, your current writing project helps distract you and give you something to look forward to working on when you can steal a few minutes. I get that too. (I also get it if academic work is the last thing you want to think about right now! In which case, just ignore my posts for the time-being.) If you’re someone who thrives on a little bit of structure and on manageable tasks you can put on a to-do list and then take pleasure in crossing off, I will humbly suggest that my Book Proposal Accelerator might be just the thing for you, if you’ve got a book project rattling around in your head these days. It starts next Friday (May 1st) and begins with a task that I think could be a great distraction at the moment—thinking about the right publishers for your project and narrowing down your target presses. From there we’ll tackle the different components of a scholarly book proposal one by one and also talk strategy regarding getting in touch with editors, planning your submission, and everything else you might want to know about publishing a book.
This session of the Book Proposal Accelerator will also include live video chats with two great acquisitions editors from top scholarly presses: Elizabeth Ault of Duke University Press and Joseph Calamia of University of Chicago Press (and recently Yale University Press). Those sessions will be at noon Eastern on Friday, May 22nd, and Friday, June 5th, respectively. The rest of the Fridays will be chat sessions with just me, so you can ask the questions you wouldn’t necessarily want an acquisitions editor to hear. I’ll also be checking in online every day to answer questions and give feedback on any work you feel like posting as we go along.
If you’re not up for a group thing right now, you can check out my list of 10 quick ways to make progress on a book proposal during quarantine and make your own tiny to-do list. Or throw it all out the window and find a crafting project or video game or tv series to get into, just to give yourself a moment to look forward to each day. Whatever works and doesn’t make you feel worse is what you should be doing right now. XO.