Originally posted on 3/21/10 for the
Charge of the Write Brigade.
Recently I’ve been working hard on my novel. I’ve been tasked with edits and re-writes. My editor has given me two months to get this manuscript in place and that’s plenty of time.
This means I have to get serious and knuckle down. Some scenes only need to be reworked a bit and folded into the general story. Other scenes have to be completely thrown out and new ones put in to replace them. It needs to be tighter, more interwoven and the pace needs to be brought up quite a bit.
Now, if I decided to put off my edits until later, one of two things would happen. I’d either find myself at the end of the second month, scrambling to meet my deadline and producing shoddy work, or I’ve have to confess I wasn’t ready and couldn’t accomplish the job.
I long to be a published author. Do I intend to produce crap for my agent and the editor at my future publisher or do I intend to not produce anything at the required hour? Either answer means failure. What’s worse is that after the long, painful period of trying to find an agent and that agent finding a publisher, to throw it all away because I got lazy or distracted just seems purely insane.
Sure, my current situation isn’t that serious, but I must create a working habit of sticking to my writing deadlines. Interestingly enough, when I was working on book two I had no deadlines so I took my sweet time. Now that I have a professional editor waiting on my pages, it feels real.
That’s a good thing. I find that I behave more seriously about my writing now that I have a goal. I have until the last day of April to get all thirty-two chapters polished enough for her to see it. Sure, I don’t have to cross every ‘T’ or dot every ‘I’ as it were, but a complete story must be in place with all the changed.
Heck, it’s a Young Adult Historical Fiction Fantasy and the ‘Historical’ part means research. So to properly tell this tale, I find I’ll need more research, too. This means I’ll need to make time for that research with the time allotted.
Deadlines can’t be matched without writing goals, a chapter a day for instance. They’ve got to be realistic goals. If it takes a day, great. If a week or a month, also great. But don’t set a goal for two months of writing on one week. Be honest with yourself. You know the take before you. You know how long it takes you. Plan out the time you know it’ll take and the time you want to start. Once the time arrives, jump in and get it done.
A big help for me during this challenge is my cheerleaders. Hey, I could tell you plenty of story plotlines for comics and Sci Fi shows but when it comes to who plays which sport, I’m lacking. One thing I do know about sports; they set up pretty cheerleaders to shout praises at the guys while they’re struggling to make the goals.
Same principle. Remember your beta readers and critique group partners? Remember the members in your writing group? How about family, friends, co-workers? These people have either read your story (and it’s not as bad as your inner voice says) or listened to your struggles. Tell them your goals. Tell them what you plan to accomplish the next time you sit down at the keyboard. Set it up so they’re waiting to hear your progress. That way they can nag or remind you.
You may say, “But Scott/Jack, I hate it when my mother calls and nags me. Why would I want to have her voice doing it about my recreational hobby, too?
Well, why are you writing? If you’re serious about getting your work out there and sharing it with the world, if you’re serious about really getting published, then you’ll have deadlines and that means it’s also work. Yes, work you love, but work. That means you’ll need those friendly reminders from the people who want you to succeed.
Ok, my article is finished and it’s still pretty early. I’ve got scenes and chapters to do today so I’m signing off. Can’t let this deadline slip.