For the next couple of weeks, I have fellow author from The Wild Rose Press, Sydney St. Clair visiting and talking about that dreaded part of author’s lives: deadlines!
Sydney St. Claire is the pseudonym of Susan Edwards, author of 14 Historical Native American/Western/Paranormal romances and the author of the popular “White” Series.
Sydney loves writing and sharing stories of love, happiness and dreams come true with her readers. She credits her mother for her writing success. Encouraged to read as a child, she always preferred happy endings which meant romances were her favorite genre. Sydney takes her readers into the world of erotica romance where her characters come together in explosive passion as they solve life’s problems and find true love along with the best sex our hero and heroine have ever experienced.
Sydney’s office is quite crowded with three dogs at her feet and five cats to keep her company while she writes. Three cats always insist on beds on her desk, barely leaving enough room for her monitor and keyboard. Life gets fun when all five insist on supervising…
When not writing, she enjoys crafts of all sorts including quilting, sewing, cross-stitch and knitting. She and her husband of 30 + years are avid gardeners. He takes care of the veggies, and Susan is in charge of the ‘pretties’. Her medicine wheel garden is in a contact state of war: flowers vs. weeds. Sadly, right now the weeds are wining…
While writing, she listens to a wide variety of music. Her current favorites are Blackmore’s Night and David Lanz.
The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly of Deadlines
By Susan Edwards, writing as Susan Edwards & Sydney St. Claire
Definition of Deadline: the latest time for finishing something as copy for a publication. A line or limit that must not be passed.
Deadlines have been part of my life for more years than I care to count. As much as writers hate them, they are also our friends. I’ve had some downtime in my career when my publisher went out of business and when life took some unexpected turns, and I speak from experience when I say that having a deadline makes a writer, at least this writer much more productive.
No deadline means I meander and play around. No deadline means there’s no one holding me accountable. No deadline means no writing income. Or no new writing income.
The 5 P’s of Why You Should Set Deadlines
If you are writing with the intent to sell, you’ll eventually have to meet deadlines so you might as well get used to it now. Spend the time now to learn the ins and outs of writing on deadline. How do you handle the pressure—self-imposed and how does it affect your writing? The time to find out is before you find yourself on deadline! What you know now about yourself won’t surprise you or send you into a panic later. If you absolutely cannot write a book in less than a year, then you certainly don’t want to agree to a six-month contract. The only way to know is to keep track now and learn what you can and cannot do.
One thing I learned once I was contracted, and facing deadlines was that I could not continue to be a leisurely writer. I couldn’t keep polishing as I went. I was forced to forge ahead and ignore some issues, though I’m the type of writer that if there is something wrong, it’s difficult for me to move forward. The discovery of Power Writing has help immensely. I can be fast and productive as well as efficient.
Being on deadline also meant I couldn’t spend lots of time perfecting character sheets, fancy plot charts etc. which was something I did and told myself it all had to be perfect but in reality, it was an excuse not to write and move forward.
Now, I allow myself a certain amount of time to plan and plot. Once I start writing, the deadline clock starts ticking and there’s no luxury of playing around and procrastinating. These days, with one deadline following hard on the heels of another, I’m lucky if I have a character sheet with their names on it! And plot charts? What are those? They are fond memories. Truthfully, as I write in Scrivener, I type out what I need to know in the file, just the bare facts and information I need to write the book.
I have to say, after writing for 27 years, published for 19, deadlines forced my growth as a writer. The first book took me three years to write, four to revise and rewrite. The second book probably only took a couple years, maybe three total as I started it before I sold, and it was my option book once I did sell book one. But the third book I probably had less than a year—maybe eight months to write as I was officially on my first deadline with book three. And one of those early books, I was asked to turn in three months early in order to get an earlier publication date and on a faster track. Did I agree? Oh yeah!
If you are not published, get used to deadlines now. You can’t avoid them later.
Setting and meeting deadlines is a measure of your progress. If you don’t set a goal, you won’t achieve your full potential. Deadlines keep you on track. Yes, you may fall behind but with a deadline, you won’t stray for long. When you meet your self-imposed deadlines, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.
More work done = More projects ready to send out
More projects sent out = More opportunities to sell and get your name out there
Writing is a business and like all businesses, the goal is to make money. That means being both productive and efficient.
It’s fine to say you’re a creative individual, but that’s not going to get you ahead in this brutal industry. Successful authors are creative, but they also wear their business hats and realize that in order to get ahead, they have to treat their writing as a business. And that means progress.
And if you are published, those deadlines are your roadmap to success. I do know authors who don’t do deadlines as they don’t want to ruin their creativity. They prefer to turn in complete manuscripts, but they don’t realize their careers lose momentum. In order to make money, you need books in all stages of production—advance money (Unless doing E-books or small publishers), royalties of new books out, and royalties of books already out. It’s a chain and if you break one link, your business slows.
The only way to keep the wheels of your career moving is to be productive, and unless you set deadlines, you won’t be nearly as productive.
You want to be published. Act now like the professional you want to be. You might not have an editor to answer to, but show yourself some respect. A deadline, and meeting said deadline, is a way to show –respect yourself, and your writing.
If you are published, meeting your deadlines means you are professional and respectful of your editor and publishing house. They have schedules, and there are others who depend on your editor to meet her deadlines, so they can meet theirs.
Everyone has deadlines. Everyone wants you to succeed. Most of all, you want you to succeed so set and keep those pesky deadlines.
There’s another aspect to deadlines, whether published or not. A deadline and the intention to meet that deadline, shows your family and friends that you are serious. If you don’t take yourself or your career seriously, no one else will.
With a deadline, you can’t wait for the muse to hit.
With a deadline, you can’t wait for a nice clear block of time to write.
With a deadline, you are in charge of your writing, instead of waiting for Opportunity to drop into your lap.
How To Set A Deadline
Set A Reasonable Deadline
Give yourself some “fudge” time in case life rears its ugly heat. There are always personal emergencies, family drama, illness, etc. You know your life, decide if you need a couple extra weeks, a month or two. If you don’t need that extra time? Wow, you can turn in the book early, or start the next one and be ahead of schedule. Trust me, the time will come when something will eat up some of your deadline time. And if you are early, you look even more professional!
Take Into Account Any Research You Need To Do
Know what you need to research and how easy it is to gather research material. In the “old” days before internet, it could take months to get an out of print book or find books through libraries. If you need time for interviews, visiting places, add that time into your deadline as those are days you will not be writing.
Plan How You Are Going To Achieve Your Goal
You can’t plan a deadline without knowing how many pages, word count, etc. you do each day or week. How do you plan to track your progress?
Pages per day? Words per day? How many days a week do you write? How many hours a day? I employ a word count per day. I know how many hours per day minimum, and what days I won’t be writing based on my schedule (example: 1 play day a week with friends). I use excel and track the days and words per day and I also have a column for my word goal count. If I allow myself 30 days, I plan it out, taking my play days and weekend days into account, and the days I know I can really power through writing. Without a plan or at least an understanding of what you can or typically achieve, you can’t set a realistic goal and hope to meet that deadline.
Aim for those word/page count goals. Don’t beat yourself up if you get behind. Adjust your schedule, work in more time, and strive to catch up. Now is the time to learn how to be productive.
Susan/Sydney returns on Oct. 24 for part 2 of The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly of Deadlines
You can find Sydney via these links:
Wild Rose Press: http://wilderroses.co
The photos used in this article are in the public domain from http://all-free-download.com/free-photos/
enjoyed interview. i don’t mind deadlines up to now. i set my own, want to get it done.
I really enjoyed your comments. I learned some new ways to handle them.
Thanks for visiting Larry and Kayden. I see deadlines as a means to an end! Meet it and move on to the next great project
I actually find deadlines inspiring – both the self-imposed sort and those imposed by contract. The thought of “OMG, I HAVE to have this done by …” Nothing like the spur of desperation to drive you on. My brother the graphic artist seems to have the same mind-frame.
I enjoyed your post! I agree that deadlines are the best way for me to work. Without them, I’m one lazy puppy.
Celia, you got it!
Ashantay, I’m a procrastinator, so I def. need them! Thanks for stopping by Celia and Ashantay!
So, part two goes live on the 24th. This week, share your deadline tips and tricks. Do you play games with yourself to get through your deadlines, have something that works for you to share? I’ve been known to line up skittles, by color of course, or M & M’s on my keyboard and reward myself with one every so many sentences or paragraphs to keep me moving. Or panic itself can be a great motivator . What’s yours?