Planning a wedding is in many ways, according to those who have completed the process, a joyful experience.
To those still in the midst of it, putting together such an event (especially without the aid of a wedding planner) essentially requires taking all of the free hours on your calendar and, for months at a time, blocking them off. I use the black color. It makes the whole thing more dramatic. Occasionally I’ll leave an hour here and there blank, just to give myself the illusion of hope, and then something – be it wrapping gifts or plotting transportation schedules or trying to make the vows rhyme – will appear, as if by some dark magic, and sap away that time.
Now, unfortunately, reality does not take your predicament into account and politely suspend all other things until your wedding is complete. Bills, insignificant as they may seem in the face of such looming monstrosity as one’s nuptials, must still be paid. Work, the kind that pays you in dollars rather than love, must continue. Art must be produced. Sales must be run. Hours in the chair scrubbing passive-aggressive wedding commentary from the current novel must be spent.
So, how am I surviving?
Not perfectly, let me point out. I don’t think, with any major life event, it’s possible to happily continue on with your current schedule. If that was the case, my hunch is the event would not be considered “major”.
The first, and most important thing, is accepting a decrease in your productivity. You’ll be stressed, whether you’re the bride or groom, and the weight of all of the myriad things will make it difficult to concentrate. You won’t be able to jump into your story as quickly as before (or after). You won’t be able to wake up in the morning with the only item on your agenda the traitorous twist in chapter 23. No, you’ll need to arrange the timing for the late night snacks and what beers will be served during the cocktail hour. And how many of those delicious crab cakes you want for yourself rather than as passed apps.
Adjusting your schedule to accommodate the extra stress and work is crucial because otherwise you’re going to fall behind, and then you’re going to be stressed that you’re falling behind, and it’s just a vicious cycle. Believe it or not, weddings, so I’ve heard, are meant to be fun for you. If you’re an angry monster because your latest novel is going to take a few extra weeks, well, it’s not going to be much fun for your spouse.
Secondly, make hard lists of what you want to do every day, leaving room for surprises. This, of course, is something that’s worth doing all the time, but is especially necessary when your task list balloons from “Write the Next Chapter” and “Tweet” to fifty different things. I’ve found a lot of success by guarding those hours in the morning when I’m most creative and, yes, sacrificing afternoons and evenings (normally marketing time) to wedding stuff. This way, while I’m not doing everything I normally would, I’m still making progress on my books and I’m not stewing in a wordless hell for months.
Third, don’t stop writing. Above, I noted I saved my writing time. My word counts might go down, but I’m still writing every day. Even if it’s a chapter. Even if it’s a 1000 words instead of 5k. Heck, even if it’s a blog post like this. Point being – it’s all too easy to declare the battle lost and give up on your words. Don’t do it. Get what you can into every day, and then be satisfied with it, and move on. Put together that seating chart. Go to that dance lesson. Ponder which flavor of cake is the right one (carrot cake, obviously).
Anyway, I’m almost halfway through the next novel. A new series. It’s a blend of sci fi and thriller, with some other elements thrown in there because… that’s where the story went. I’m having fun, though, and that’s what matters.