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To Do or Not To Do – Deadlines

Okay, you’re writing your first book, or maybe it’s your fifth. You’ve not yet been published (never say not published, but not yet published), or it’s been a while, a long while since your last book sold.

Since you’re not yet published, maybe you’re taking your time, writing as you can fit it in. You know, rewriting chapter one…oh, no less than 10 – 12 times. It’s okay. Lift your chin back up, we’ve all been there and many of us are there right now.

My question to you is this. Have you given yourself deadlines? “Deadlines,” you asked. “Why would I do that? I’m not contracted yet. I don’t have deadlines.”

Well you’re right, you don’t. But you will. You’ll finish that book, shine it to perfection, and ship it off to the editor (or to the agent who will then ship to editor).

Guess what? They love it. Not only do they love it, they want to contract you to a two book deal. Remember those secondary characters that you loved so much? So does the editor. He/She can so see them in their own book.

Now can you guess where this is going? The contract, the one in which you received ‘The Call’? Yeah, you’re going to have a deadline for that second book. You haven’t even started on Sally and Harry’s book. Heck, you’ve been working on that Historical that you thought you’d never write, instead.

That’s okay; you’re snoopy dancing around the kitchen with a glass of wine in one hand and chocolate in the other. You’ve got a contract and they want a second book. Squeeeee!!! All right, if you are like me, you’re probably dancing all through the house and there are lots of Squeee’s going on. 🙂

Time to sit down and begin S & H’s book. You’re so excited your fingers fly across the keyboard. This is great! You’re going to have this done in no time at all. Chapter four…you’ve stared at those words for 2 weeks now. Where or where is this going? What happened? Then you decide, heck its fine. I’ve got 4 months to get this done. No worries.

Trust me on this. It is just the beginning of your worries, unless you’re the much loved Nora Roberts. Very few people can spew out a book in less than 3 months, revise and get said book to the editor.

Now is the time to make deadlines and stick to them. Start with something you know you can do and work your way up. But by all means make them. Be accountable to someone (here on Tuesday’s or to your CP, just someone) for the deadlines. If you don’t make one, that’s okay. Even seasoned writers have to ask their editors for an extension once in a while.

If you can get yourself used to deadlines now when you actually don’t have them, they will be much easier to work with once you do. It’s a lot like exercise. At first you can only go a mile on the treadmill and your leg muscles are dying. Before you know it you’re doing five miles and it’s easier. In fact, if you don’t make your daily five mile treadmill walk you become sort of grouchy. It’s now become your part of you.

So tell us, do you have deadlines when you’re writing? Do you stick to them? Has it helped you?

WW’s and PD’s,



10 Responses

  1. I’ve written to deadlines before and it’s not easy, but I did it! a wrote a friend’s book deadline. She had full story to get out by (what was that date again? I think I blocked it) and I wrote to that same deadline. We didn’t exchange word counts daily or anything like, but I wrote alongside her and met her goal with my story

  2. Keri – that’s really cool. I never thought about writing alongside a published authors deadline.

  3. Great post! I haven’t set a deadline in a long time and I think that’s my biggest problem with my writing schedule now. I need something to work toward. I’ve done really well with deadlines in the past when I’ve been held accountable by others. I’m hoping to get back on track in November with the NaNoWriMo challenge.

  4. Melissa – I’ve never done the NaNoWriMo challenge. Each year I say I’m going to, but never do. Do you find it hard to stay with it, or does it give your writing a big jump?

  5. Great post, Vicki! It reminds me that I need to get busy with my manuscript. I have a deadline with mine. An editor and agent gave me a year to 18 months to complete it and have it sent to them.

    I plan to have EVERYTHING (including revisions) done by February. It does help me to have a deadline because it lets me know that I can”t waste time doing other things. I have to stick to a strict schedule. It’s difficult at times, but you eventually get the hang of it if you are really dedicated to it. =)

  6. Jamie – That’s awesome news!!! I’ve found unless I give my self deadlines it’s too easy to skip a few days here and a few days there. Once that happens, it can so easily become a whole week of not writing. Ugh! Then I have to get back in the groove.

    Yeah, I needed this reminder even if I did write the post. 🙂

  7. This will be my third year and I’ve had wonderful results. For me, there is just something magical about not having to worry with anything but putting the words on the page. It’s lots of work, but I’ve enjoyed every minute. Maybe it has something to do with that cute little scale that gets bigger and bigger as the word count increases. I’m a visual person, so actually getting to see my progress works wonders.

    Let me know if you decide to give it a try. Cheering for and supporting friends is another great part of it. 🙂

  8. Well…since I actually have a deadline, yeah, gotta learn to write to one. Actually, I ‘m pretty proud of myself. I’ve been buckling down and getting it done. I got revisions from the editor on Friday before last and I finished last night. And it was a lot – had to switch scenes, write about five new scenes and make everything cohesive. Not to mention I had to cut 2000 words.

    But I’m done. Now I’m waiting on readers to read it and give feedback. I plan on having it in a week before my deadline.

    I thought I’d be excited about revisions. BUT they were hard.

  9. Melissa – I’ve been doing that in my current wip. About every three chapters or so I go back and do edits to make sure that the pacing and stuff is working.

    In one way it’s freeing to just write, but it’s also a little hard. I have to remind myself that it’s okay, just write what’s coming to me.

    The thing is, when I go back, it’s not to bad in the editing area. I guess all those rules I’ve learned, classes on craft I’ve taken, and just general knowledged passed on from other published authors has actually stuck. 🙂

  10. Amy – How cool is that!!! Although they may be hard, you’ve got them and you did them. Cutting words is never easy and moving around scenes while keeping everything flowing is harder still.

    Girl, You ROCK!!! I’m so excited for you!

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