Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deadlines...

Drunk Writer Maureen made a comment in one of her messages the other day regarding her deadline and how she was afraid she wasn’t going to make it. Maureen all I can say is I sympathize. I have been there more times than I can count and it got me thinking about how deadlines hurt and also help.

How they hurt is easy. They bring with them intense pressure, the fear of what might happen if you fail to meet them and guilt if you’re doing something else in life other than working on your book.

I always start strong, then I linger, then at some point I realize the deadline is closer than I thought it was and I curse profusely before kicking it into high gear.

For my last WIP I was getting up every morning at 5:00 am (and believe me when I tell you I am not a 5:00 am girl. I’m more like a 10:30 am girl) to work on my manuscript before going to my day job. I was stressed to the max about the story. Completely stressed about meeting the deadline. And that stress was followed by my typical panic when I put all the chapters together, totaled the word count and realized I was 8,000 words short. I do this every time always forgetting that once I put the book together and start editing that I always expand in enough areas to make up the shortage.

Not fun.

But here is the flipside. I was getting up every morning at 5:00 am. I was producing anywhere from 5 to 8 pages a day. I was completely in a grove where the story was flowing as fast from my fingers as I could make it go. And I thought… if I could do this every day, and not just when I’m stressing to meet a deadline, I could write maybe two more books a year. Deadlines push and prod you to move the story forward. Deadlines do not allow for “writer’s block”. Deadlines make me go.

So love them, hate them. I do both. And know Maureen that you will make it. You think you won’t… but you will. It’s just how it always works out.

9 comments:

Karen Whiddon said...

Wow, what an on-target post. Deadlines are the bane of my existence. I have a book due January 1st that I started November 1st. I hate to have a deadline over the holidays. I don't want to write - I want to do Christmassy stuff. Wah!

But I also get up at 5am and write. That's the only way I can produce 3 books a year. Over my computer I have a sign that say "How Badly Do You Want It?" supposedly attributed to Nora Roberts. This reminds me whenever I whine and moan and kvetch.

You'll make it Maureen. So will I. And then we'll do the same thing you mentioned Steph. Start strong, slack off, then wake up and go OMG - I'd better get writing!

Speaking of which...

Maureen McGowan said...

Contrary to all the fear and angst I've been expressing here, lately, I'm a fan of deadlines. As someone who took a long time to get that first contract, I'd been finding it harder and harder to respond to my self-imposed deadline. A real one has done wonders for my motivation and productivity. :-)

I'm just not sure why I thought I could write two structurally complicated, 80K books in 4 1/2 months... Yes, 4 1/2 months for BOTH. But I know I will, even if it means giving up Christmas for the most part. I'm revising number one now (due Jan 6) but hope to start outlining #2 (due March 3) right after Christmas.

Fun times. Fun times. Be careful what you ask for, right?

Eileen said...

Indeed, Maureen! Be so careful what you wish for! I'm so thrilled to be writing for two publishing houses, but now the reality of having an April deadline for one book and an August deadline for another is setting in. Add to that the fact that I've gotten nothing of real merit done since Thanksgiving because of holiday/family stuff and a lovely friend is coming to visit in January for ELEVEN DAYS and I'm waking myself up at night chewing on my own tongue.

I'm not much of a 5 a.m. girl. I am, however, a take a weekend at a hotel and write my brains out kind of girl. I'm seeing probably one of those a month from now until August.

But on the love 'em or hate 'em scale, I still love 'em. Deadlines keep you focused and make you push through blocks. I'm sure my tongue will heal eventually.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Without deadlines i sweep my floor alot and surf the internet and buy stuff I don't need and eat way too much peanut butter.

That said - Karen, MAureen, Eileen - those are some f'ed up deadlines!!!! Get thee to a hotel and quick!!!

My friend has this magnet on her fridge that I love and can't find anywhere and it says "It's always better in the end - if it's not better it's not the end."

Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I'm gonna eat peanut butter.

Eileen said...

Have you ever taken the spoon of peanut butter and jammed it into a bag of chocolate chips and then eaten the chocolate chip-studded spoon of peanut butter?

That usually happens around the same time that I'm waking myself up chewing on my own tongue.

Stress? What stress? :-)

Sinead M said...

For me it's about the spoonful of Nutella, cannot get enough of that stuff...

Karen Whiddon said...

OMG, I love you guys. Chewing on your tongue and eating peanut butter chocolate chips on a spoon! While it is true deadlines get me focused, I am not a big fan of stress. Ok, I hate it. But I do like the kick in the pants they provide to write.

Maureen, wow. That's all I can say. Wow. You will need to take a break after the second book, to keep from feeling burned out. Wishing you the best of luck!

Karen Whiddon said...

OMG, Maureen. I just re-read your post. I thought originally you'd said 4.5 months EACH. Not for both. OMG. I'm hoping you don't have a day job. Best of luck to you.

Maureen McGowan said...

Karen, they are crazy deadlines. Crazy. But I'm not sure the deal would've happened if I hadn't agreed. Just wish it wasn't all over the holidays when I have so many other obligations to neglect.

And I'm lucky on the lack of day job front. Ironically, I'd just about to take a temporary part time job, that could've lead to something more permanent when I got word about this deal. Sometimes things happen at the exact right time.

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