Thursday, August 27, 2009

A What The Hell Day

from jacqueline

I’m one of those writers who decided long ago that it was not a good idea to read other people’s fiction while I was working on fiction. This is not an easy task, as the TBR pile gets taller and taller and then and falls over, so I have to start making another pile. It’s like being on a diet and having a big bag of cookies in the room. So, once the final revision has been sent off to my editor, it’s PLAYTIME. If you could get sick reading books, I would have been in the bathroom for the past month. It’s been great, and I still have loads in that pile to get through.

In one of the books I read last week, two of the characters would give themselves a What The Hell Day when they felt like it. A WTHD – I like that. Anything’s better than WMD, eh? Of course, we are familiar with the notion of a Mental Health Day, but that always sounds to me like a self-inflicted sado-masochistic wound; something I’d do in a padded room. A WTHD seems much more up my alley – do what the heck I like and anyone who doesn’t like it knows what they can do. So, I decided to give myself some WTHD’s.

For starters, in the past few days on my WTHD’s, I have not been rising at my usual 5:30 -6:00am . No, I have been lollygagging. I have even woken up and gone back to sleep. This is something I would like to encourage in myself. I think I could come to like lollygagging, especially if there’s a book already on my bedside table and I don’t have to get out of bed to search for a new one. Don’t look stunned – OF COURSE there are books aplenty on my bedside table.

On Sunday, having slept in until 7:30am, I trundled into the kitchen, put the kettle on to boil for my tea, and sashayed out to collect the New York Times from wherever it had landed in the driveway. I couldn’t have cared less if my neighbors had an eyeful of my bathrobe and looked in awe at my bare feet – mind you, they were probably having their own WTHD’s. I went back to bed with the NYT and thought, “I will rise again from this bed when I feel like it.” Which wasn’t for several hours.

I’ve been out to ride my horse, Oliver, a lot this week. Sara is still out of commission due to injury; she’s had a What The Hell Three Months – I could learn a thing or two from that mare. And I’ve been on a few bike rides, and I have done a bit of work here and there. I’ve been knocking that TBR pile down; I’ve been hiking and I’ve been noodling around the shops. All in my own good time.

Today, a week earlier than expected, I received some final-final “finessing” suggestions from my editor. Oh well, at least I had three days of What The Hell. And I can’t wait to have some more – many, many more.

So, what do you do on your WTHD’s?

Have one or two this weekend, why don’t you?


  1. Great post, Jacqueline. :-D

    Semi WTHD today. Have to go visit a friend later, but will rummage through wardrobes and chuck out old clothes, potter, maybe have a nap, go see a movie tonight (Taking Woodstock) and dinner is already made. Have worked all week and am now ready for a down day before revising a ms for my editor and getting us ready to go to Atlanta next Thursday. :-D

    Have a great weekend,

  2. The problem with most of us is that we fill our schedules to the breaking point with work, volunteering, family activities and whatnot, leaving scant time for true WTHDs. I think that's why we get "burnt out."

    The question is how to break that habit. I'm open to ideas.

  3. I'm lousy at WTHD's.

    I feel guilty on WTHD's. (Except Saturdays during college football season, which are fully consumed but then, by definition, not truly WTHD's.)

    For a true WTHD, I have to get out of town, even just a drive to Ventura or Santa Barbara to do it.

    I may need professional help.

  4. from Jacqueline

    OK, here's how you do a WTHD - you schedule it. You put a big fat line through your calendar on a given day or days, and you say, "What The Hell, that's mine, all mine. It belongs to me an no one else unless I want it to." Make that day non-negotiable - it belongs to you, and no one gives it back to you if you lose it. You are completely responsible for your WTHD's.

    I guarantee, it will make you more productive in the long run - and the short-run, come to that - even if you have to get out of town to do it.

    And Marianne, I can see you know how to embrace the whole notion of a WTHD - fun, ain't it?

  5. James O. Born8/28/2009 3:19 PM

    Iagree with Paul. I have to leave to have a true WTHD. I do odd jobs around the house or work on a novel if I'm at home.


  6. From Jacqueline

    The key is to remember that you're a human being, not a human doing. Of course, being doesn't pay the bills, but over-doing can kill you. I'm for that nice balanced place between being and doing, and the WTHD helps enormously.