by Jill Williamson
I turned in the first draft of Outcasts (The Safe Lands, book 2) on Sunday night at about ten-thirty p.m. It's been a rough six weeks. And I'm so happy that I made my deadline.
And I am doing it. But it's been intense. And it's not over. Here's how it has worked so far: I had about two months to write book 1 in series A, then I turned it in and took another two months to write book 1 in series B. Then I was ready to do edits on book 1 of series A while I was still finishing up book 1 of series B. And as soon as I got it all done, I needed to write book 2 for series A. And the process is now about to start over. The Mission League is a four book series, The Safe Lands is a trilogy. So, until I get them all written and turned in, I'm going to be going at this non-stop pace. It's going to take me through the end of 2013.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to write these two series. But it's been a challenge. And I'm learning a lot about myself. First, I've learned that I desperately miss writing historical fantasy (must return to it soon). And second, I've learned that I'm capable of meeting these deadlines, even though they're rough, but that in the future, I don't want to write this fast. It's challenging, and I don't have enough time to write my books the way I want to write them. I've had to settle with them being good enough. And that's frustrating to the perfectionist in me. So in the future, I'd like to focus on one YA series at a time. That's good to know. I'm learning from my journey and that will help me in the future.
I've also learned a lot about deadlines. And I'd like to share some of it with you.
-Deadlines help you prioritize. The book is the first thing I work on each day.
-Deadlines help you schedule your writing life, which helps you set goals and keep them. That can actually take off the pressure when you have multiple projects to write since you know which one you have to work on when. (Ex: In Jan-Feb, I'll write this book. In March-April, I'll write this other one.)
-Deadlines force you to write. If you don't, you'll miss your deadline, which to me is failure. And I don't like to fail.
-Deadlines keep you organized. It was impossible for me to write the way I used to write and get all these books done in time. I was forced to learn some new ways to plot. I just didn't have time for trial and error in the story, so I had to learn to storyboard so that I could troubleshoot ahead of time. That's been a good lesson for me as a storyteller.
-Deadlines help you become a productive writer. You get things done. And you'll learn to write faster.
-Deadlines show that the end is in sight. It's on the calendar. So you can see the day is coming when all the stress will be over. You can plan a nothing day and know that a very short vacation is coming.
-Deadlines stress you out. They loom out in the future like the maw of a basilisk. And if you don't get the job done, you'll get eaten. (Not really, but that's what it feels like sometimes.)
-Deadlines can force you to rush the story, which can lead to mistakes.
-Tight deadlines means that there isn't much time to revise.
-Deadlines might mean that there isn't any time to send the manuscript to your critique partners.
-Deadlines give you a little time for breaks.
-Deadlines can turn you into a beast. If you let the stress get to you, your friends and family will steer clear of the crazy writer.
-Deadlines can lead to burnout and wanting to quit or take a looonnng sabbatical.
-And if you're not careful, you might miss your deadline and have to ask for more time. This may make you look bad to your publisher. It's something you don't want to get in the habit of doing, that's for sure.
So, as you come to the place in your writing career where you get to sign contracts, be mindful of those deadlines on them. Really think through whether or not you can handle them. You might not know. Trial and error is part of life. But you'll figure it out. We writers are tough cookies.
Do you set deadlines for yourself? What's your strategy for meeting them?