First of all if you missed yesterday's post about this WONDERFUL WRITER'S RETREAT WITH BETH REVIS, read it now! She's offering a special discount to MSFV readers (because, yanno, she's one of us -- and she loves us).
So I want to talk to you about deadlines. It's a fact of life that, once you've signed with a publisher, you're going to have deadlines. As in, you're going to be expected to hand in your work by a certain date. And I'm sure you don't want to be that author--the one who never makes deadline. The one who emails and calls with a hundred reasons why she needs an extra week. Or whatever.
Thing is, I read so many tweets and statuses and posts from published authors lamenting that they've got 24 or 48 hours to go, and they're burning the midnight oil--literally. Pulling all-nighters. Neglecting to shower. Doing whatever it takes to get that manuscript in on time.
First of all, GOOD FOR THEM for getting it done. Deadlines aren't arbitrary, and your editor really does need you to turn in your stuff when she says you do.
BUT. For me personally, I couldn't do that. Pulling an all-nighter or writing to the wee hours for the last few nights before a deadline would probably kill me. I really -- and I mean really -- don't do well on a lack of sleep.
This is one aspect of pursuing publishing that has actually worried me from time to time. How will I handle deadlines? Will it utterly disrupt my life? What am I even thinking?
So for the past several years, I've trained myself to write to deadline. Mind you, it's not quite the same as someone else's deadline for you! But, in some respects, a deadline is a deadline. I wanted to have all the practice I needed. And it has really helped keep me on track with finishing what I set out to do in a given time period.
Still. It kind of scares me.
Most recently, I received from my agent what turned out to be a more labor-intensive revision than I had originally expected. At first (and call me deluded), I thought that, once I figured out what I needed to do (a process that took two or three days), I would be able to crank out the work in a week. As soon as I dived in, though, I knew a week wouldn't cut it.
Actually, a month would have felt nice.
I didn't have a month, though. Danielle wanted a quick turnaround so that she could then get back with me quickly with what we both hoped would be the final round of edits. So I told her "two weeks".
I pretty much rearranged my life to get it done. Not in a dramatic sense, but in a practical one. I skipped ballet to write in the evenings (no small thing, since ballet is a big priority for me). I sacrificed time with Mr. A for time with my revisions. I put off taking on an editing project for January until after I was finished with the revisions. In short, in whatever way I could put writing first each day, I did. And I did it without sacrificing sleep. (Because, seriously. I'm just not of the I've-been-awake-for-30-hours ilk.)
And I finished the job three days short of my two week deadline. I sent it to Danielle on a Friday afternoon, and was rewarded with a writing-free weekend.
Honestly? It's the hardest I've ever worked. Sometimes I would creep from my writing hole, encounter my husband, and say, "Ugh. This is HARD." Because it was. I loved it, but it was hard work. Intense. The I-can't-let-up-until-it's-finished kind of pressure that keeps you focused, and rewards you with a job completed on time.
But, hey! I did it without pulling an all-nighter. Without missing my daily shower or forgetting to eat. So I think I've just proved to myself that one can write to a deadline without insanity.
I don't know. Maybe some people like the thrill of pushing the limit of a deadline. Maybe, for them, it's energizing or invigorating or fulfilling. But I know myself, and I can't work that way.
And, too, there's the whole procrastination thing (why are writers so good at this?). I am awfully good at procrastinating all the annoying Life Things, like making a dentist appointment or scrubbing the tub or cleaning off my desk or writing a thank you note. But for whatever reason, I have chosen not to procrastinate on my writing.
Well, except for that bit of procrastination that happens every day when I sit down. You know it well--the sitting-there-doing-everything-but-writing until you finally start to write. (What is that, anyway?) If I could kill that boogieman, I'd be golden.
Why am I sharing all this? Because you're all aspiring to be published, and writing to deadlines is part of that. I want you to think about it ahead of time, as I have been. I want you to have a plan; I want you to be the author who delivers things on time without killing himself (or making his editor want to kill him). It's part of the big picture, so we need to consider it along with everything else.
And there you have it. And when I'm finally writing to my first editorial deadline, and I claw my way in here gasping, "No one...told me..it would be...this bad...", you can pat me on the head and say, "Tut, tut, Authoress. We know you meant well."