by Kassandra Lamb
One of the joys of being an indie author is that you set your own deadlines; one of the pitfalls is that you set your own deadlines. Or at least, it’s a pitfall for recovering overachievers like myself, who are struggling to ward off “overachiever angst” and maintain some semblance of balance in our lives.
I fell into the pit this year. In early January, it seemed perfectly reasonable to me that I could finish the Kate Huntington novel I was drafting, write another service-dog novel and then a novella I had planned for that series, and get all of those stories edited and published in order for the novella to be released around July 4th, since that story involves Independence Day.
Just reading back over that sentence is exhausting, much less actually doing all that. But I was determined to try.
So the deadlines were set…
The Kate book would come out some time in May, The Sound and The Furry would be released in mid-June, and A Star-Spangled Mayfair would come out on or before July 4th.
I made the first deadline; Police Protection came out on May 24th. The other two deadlines…not so much.
Which brings me to the point of this post.
Overachievers have trouble adjusting goals. Even goals that are self-inflicted (yes, I have chosen that word intentionally).
It was a downright painful decision to slide those other two deadlines. But it finally dawned on me that once the Independence Day novella is out, people will be reading it at all different times of the year in the future. It is an integral part of the series and the character’s ongoing stories. So its relevance is not limited to the time period around July 4th.
And as long as it came out during the summer “beach-reading” season, even this year’s readers probably wouldn’t mind that they are reading about July 4th on, say, July 24th.
Why did I do that to myself?
Why did I set myself up for overachiever angst by taking on more than I could possibly get done?
I used to do this kind of thing more often. I would almost always over-estimate how much work I could get done in a given amount of time and/or under-estimate how much work a project would require. I’ve gotten somewhat better and don’t make these miscalculations quite so often anymore, so I’m looking at this as a moderate setback in my recovery as an overachiever.
I think I also set these kinds of goals sometimes to create a challenge for myself. Let’s see if I can do this? That challenge can be stimulating, but it can also be a set-up for disappointment, when I can’t meet the nearly impossible goal.
I’ve gotten better at forgiving myself though, when I have to adjust a goal.
What Drives Us Overachievers?
In my younger years, I was trying to prove something to myself and the world. I had to be the “best” at everything I did. I got past that when it dawned on me that it was okay to not be the best at things I didn’t care all that much about.
It’s okay for me to be a mediocre cook and a less than stellar housekeeper, for example, since those are not high priorities for me. But I still tend to put a fair amount of pressure on myself to be the best I can be when something is important to me.
And that’s what convinced me to slide my self-imposed deadlines. My writing is very important to me. I did NOT want to produce inferior stories, just to get them out by a certain date. So I decided to push through my overachiever angst and make some adjustments.
The Sound and The Furry is releasing today. Yay!! And A Star-Spangled Mayfair is tentatively scheduled to come out on July 23rd. I hope to have it available for preorder soon. (Covers and blurbs below.)
How about you? Do you tend to be an overachiever, an underachiever, or (the sanest position) somewhere in between? What do you think is driving those tendencies for you?
The Sound and The Furry, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery, #7
A tropical paradise turns deadly.
Service dog trainer Marcia Banks had thought it was the perfect arrangement—stay on her client’s private Gulf-coast island and get the human phase of the training done more quickly, while enjoying a much-needed break from the chaos of house renovations back home.
This certainly wasn’t the tranquil getaway she’d envisioned, however. Two resident ghosts, a sour-puss housekeeper and bearing witness to her client’s shaky marriage are bad enough. But within days, she’s discovered even deeper and darker layers of dysfunction.
Via emails and static-filled phone calls, fiancé Will Haines convinces her to get herself and her dog Buddy out of there, but before Marcia can accomplish this, a late-season hurricane abruptly changes course and strands them on the island… with a murderer.
AMAZON ~ APPLE ~ KOBO ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE PLAY
And coming very soon… A Star-Spangled Mayfair, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Novella (#8)
A flamboyant fiancé, a “Mob Killer” Roman candle, a yappy rescue dog, and a bison bull named Tarzan.
A recipe for chaos and calamity for Marcia’s introverted friend, Jess Randall.
When not serving up her to-die-for eggs and biscuits at the Mayfair Diner, Jess just wants to live quietly on their farm. But her fiancé Dan has impulsively offered to host the Mayfair Independence Day Extravaganza.
The day of the big bash, Marcia and her dog Buddy witness a public fight between the couple, and just hours later, Dan is found with a Roman candle through his chest.
Was it an accident, or was it murder? And is Jess a killer, as the sheriff’s department believes?
Between dog-training sessions, Marcia feels compelled to investigate, especially when there are signs that the real killer may not be finished… Could Jess be the next target?
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the cozy series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.
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K.B. OwenJuly 3, 2019 at 1:55 pm
Congrats on the new release, Kass! And the one-to-come.
Wow, you ARE an overachiever. Compared to you, I look like a layabout scribbler.
Good luck with your deadlines, and keep the faith!
Kassandra LambJuly 3, 2019 at 11:28 pm
Thanks, Kathy! I actually need to work on being a bit more of a layabout.
Not that I think you’re one though. I know how much research goes into your historical mysteries. I admire the patience that takes.
Vinnie HansenJuly 3, 2019 at 9:19 pm
I consider myself a high achiever, but I could never meet the deadlines you set. Not even with the adjustments! You are amazing. My writing process is slower. Much slower!
Kassandra LambJuly 3, 2019 at 11:29 pm
Ha! I’m feeling more exhausted than amazing at the moment, Vinnie. I really need to slow myself down some. I’m becoming too much of an all work, no play sort these days.
Shannon EspositoJuly 4, 2019 at 10:55 am
I think being an over-achiever makes me less productive. Sometimes I find myself freezing and not being able to be creative because of the pressure I put on myself. I’m also in recovery lol. Good luck with the new release. Can’t wait to catch up with Marcia in this one!
Kassandra LambJuly 4, 2019 at 12:57 pm
Too much pressure to perform can definitely interfere with creativity!
And taking on too much can lead to procrastination—other things get put off while trying to reach an unrealistic goal, or when one becomes overwhelmed. And then the procrastination makes things worse.
I’m coming down the homestretch now with the July 4th story, and starting to dig through the layers of notes to myself about other things I should’ve been doing…lol
It’s going to be awhile before I can relax and enjoy the fruits of my labors.