Monday, May 9, 2011

Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines

Last week, I had pneumonia and was at home from work Tuesday through Friday per doctor's orders. Naturally my first thought when hearing, "You'll be in bed all week" was "Oh my God, all that writing time!"

And I did try. After all, I'd meant to get my WIP's first draft finished by April 30th and that deadline came and went. So, why wouldn't this week of rest be perfect for catching up and finishing?

Why, why indeed. Nevermind the wheezing, coughing, foggy-headedness, inability to lie down without being able to breathe, fever that just wouldn't go away, etc. I honestly can't remember much of anything from Monday through Thursday. Friday, I felt vaguely human again.

And come Friday, I was also feeling pretty annoyed with myself that I lost all this prime writing time. (In the end it's probably a good thing I wasn't trying to be wordy and coherent while running a 102 fever; who knows what would've come from it. But still.)

I am proud to announce, though, that I knocked out over 3,000 words that Friday, and I've hit another 3,000+ today. Putting me at 70,000 words and... well, not done. Sigh. But so close to done that the finish line is just within my reach. I'm finishing up a scene I skipped over (remember those action/fight scenes? hate hate hate hate) and a few paragraphs to wrap things up at the very end, and voila. One messy, clunky first draft complete!

Anyway, my point being, none of this would've been an issue had I finished my draft by April 30th like I originally planned. I'm horrible with deadlines, because inevitably I feel too pressured and all I can do is stare at my word count, willing it to magically increase itself.

There are others, though, (I'm looking at Kelley V. here) who are absolutely amazing at deadlines, even self-imposed ones. That girl sets a date to finish something, and you can sure bet she'll have it done. It's a great ability to have and I'm oh so envious of it.

I know agents tell us, "Enjoy your pre-agent/pre-publishing contract days when you can spend however long you want on a book." And while I agree with this, it's only to a point. I don't want to get used to taking however long I want simply bcause I know, someday, I'm going to have that pub contract that tells me, "you've got three weeks. Have fun!"

(That will be the day I take up drinking and cry myself to sleep at night.)

Do you do better with deadlines? Imposed by others or yourself? What tactics do you use to meet your deadlines and not let them sail away?

(I apologize for the lack of real subject matter in this post. While I'm not feverish and wasting away in bed, I'm still not feeling top-notch.)


  1. Ugh, pneumonia, that must have been horrible!

    As far as deadlines go, if it's set by someone else, I'll make sure I meet it (although I'll probably do all the work at the last minute). If it's set by me, I'm terrible at keeping promises to myself, so I'm usually good for a day or two, and then guiltily 'forget' I ever made the deadline in the first place.

    Hope you get your first draft done soon!

  2. I love deadlines :) I started writing seriously with NaNoWriMo, and the first couple years I noticed I only wrote during November. So I started drafting like a maniac, setting seemingly impossible first draft goals of <15 days. And they work for me. Right now I have a revision goal of 10 days with another author. It's a revise-off race :)

  3. Ha. I technically know we can spend however long we want on a book...but i still don't feel like it's true. Because I have been setting myself writing deadlines for A LONG TIME.

  4. I'm glad you're feeling better, and congrats on the 70k mark!
    I work much better with a deadline. I've always done better under pressure.

  5. I fail at deadlines. I used to be able to whip out a manuscript in a matter of months, so I always thought I was pretty quick, but not so much anymore, haha. I should start practicing.

  6. ROFL! It's not always a good thing to be good at deadlines though. I get obsessive and stressed out. There are times I'm happy about it and others I wish I could just cut myself some flack.

    GREAT job getting to 70k though!! I can't wait to read the finished draft of Lavender!!

  7. I do better with deadlines--if I have a wide open schedule, I tend to decide other things (like catching up on blogs and comments)sound more attractive than writing. Even if they're self-imposed, I'm usually pretty good about honoring the deadlines. But, since in reality I'm the only one holding myself accountable, if something comes up, I don't stress too much about not finishing in time.

    BUT, if it is a deadline imposed by an editor or someone else, I stress majorly. And finish a little early, so there's time to fix stuff if I grossly misunderstood what they wanted.

  8. I'm pretty good with deadlines. I set a deadline of April 30th to finish the first draft of my current manuscript and I beat it by a couple days. That said, I don't really set firm deadlines for my writing, just usually in the last few days to motivate myself to finish!

  9. I hate deadlines! And it doesn't matter what it is, I just hate having all that pressure on me. I'm getting better at getting stuff done by deadlines but I'm okay when it comes to making my own deadlines.

    If it's something someone else wants me to do, I'll usually freak out a little and then wait to the last minute to get it done. Trust me, that's a BAD habit!

  10. A timely topic... it is so hard for me to stick to a deadline, and I am glad to know that I am not the only one!

  11. All of you who are capable of keeping to deadlines, I applaud you! Even if you're the sort who waits until the last minute. I was that way with deadlines in high school. Four weeks to complete a report? I didn't even look at the instructions until a week before it was due. Not a good way to handle deadlines, no.

  12. I love having a deadline. Not having one means I just pootle along and tweak things endlessly that don't need tweaking. So I try to find deadlines for myself, so I have something to work towards. Like now, my deadline is to get this round of revision finished so I can enter my MS into a contest that closes at the end of the month.

  13. Sorry to hear you've been so sick! Good luck finishing the rest of your draft. I like deadlines but it's hard to not feel guilty if I miss it. Right now my deadline is to finish the first draft of my book by the end of June.