The Book Is In – Deadlines

This is what my office looked like right after I finished putting all the revisions into the ms. and e-mailed it to the editor. Do you see anywhere else handy for me to put the pages after I finish putting stuff in??? Neither do I. The floor works. That hump? The one that’s not a leg of the chair… That’s my purse. It’s under there somewhere.

I did pick up all the papers today. The floor looks much better. And HEART’S MAGIC is turned in. On time. Sort of.

I wrote 448 pp. in 10 weeks, with a couple of weeks of lots of company in there. So maybe, it was more like 9 weeks. (I did get some done while they were here. Just not a whole lot.)

Which I guess really leads me back around to my riff on Deadlines.

Deadlines are really helpful. REALLY. If you want to write a story/book/memoir/whatever–and you don’t have a deadline? Get one.

I am the world’s greatest procrastinator. Just ask the people who know me. Self-imposed deadlines don’t work as well on those of us with this issue, but they do help. I would not blog here even the once a week I usually manage if I didn’t make it a deadline, that I WILL blog at least Once in a week. Monday is a soft deadline. Friday is the harder deadline–and sometimes I miss that one. But not often.

It’s really better if you can get somebody else to give you the deadline. I have a college degree in journalism. That’s when I learned about deadlines, and that you really can crank out 500 words in 30 minutes, if you have the information. An hour is better, but it IS possible to do it faster if you have to. Those deadlines that somebody else gives you? Those are the ones you HAVE to make.

On the other hand, sometimes life happens. Or books refuse to gel. This is particularly bad if you have a deadline set by somebody else, and they are counting on having that book. You Need to tell your editor–the somebody else–that there may be issues.

Early in July, I had a bad feeling about The Book That Became Heart’s Magic. I was writing and writing, and getting absolutely NOWHERE. It had no structure. Individual scenes were pretty good, but as a whole, it sucked swampwater. So I talked to the agent, who talked to the editor, who said “Sure. We can back the deadline up a month.” I figured that would be what it would take to get it nailed down and finished. So I got an extra month, and I needed every bit of it. I got my deadline extended. But I finished it by that deadline.

I have entered contests that required a book to be finished for entry–okay, it was RWA’s Golden Heart contest. Once, I entered with a book that was little more than a 5-page synopsis. I took the days left till the entry had to be turned in, divided the pages to be written by the number of days, and figured out how many pages I had to write per day to get it done. (I’ve been pretty much stuck at 6 pp per day since. I’d really like to get that up…) I’d paid my money. I had to finish the book by that deadline. And I did. (Didn’t make the finals. I’ve Never made the finals in the Golden Heart Contest. Never won an “unpublished ms” contest, either. So you don’t have to, to get published. Doesn’t hurt, but isn’t necessary.) Anyway–contests are another good way to acquire a deadline that is more than just your own “I really need to have it finished by X” because those are really the deadlines that can go whooshing by.

So, yeah. I believe in deadlines. And setting goals and all that kind of stuff. They work.

And next, I will riff on lifelines. Later.

3 Responses to The Book Is In – Deadlines

  1. I gave myself the goal of updating my blog ( every Tuesday, then started another ( for Fridays. So far, so good, but meanwhile I’m three months late on the deadline for the book the first blog is supposed to support. Imagine if I had no deadline at all–no blog, no book, just reality TV.

    Preach it, sister!

  2. no self-imposed deadlines don’t work nearly as well. It so funny how a task you haven’t been able to do in 5 weeks suddenly gets done when someone says ‘I want it by Friday’

  3. Don’t We All Know It!!

    And Philip–shame on you! Get busy on that book!!!

    Yeah. I think I’m piddling the rest of the week–though I really ought to call the newspaper…

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