Sunday, August 31, 2008

In a race to finish

I feel like my writing clock is ticking. My husband is pushing me to get a "real" job, and I am pushing myself to finish my novel before I have even less time than I do right now. With the prospect of a 9-5 job looming, I have been staying up late trying to finish my book. My only time to write in the last two years has been when my children are asleep or at mother's day out. I set a goal of one week for myself one week ago, but I think I am still 70-100 pages out. This book is my favorite out of anything I have written and each time I sit down to write I find the character taking unexpected, but lovely, turns.

Now I am asking myself what kind of deadline I need to establish. I do need to establish one because if I end up going back to work full time it will become a lot harder to finish this book. I have decided to give myself two weeks. I know exactly where I want to go, and I have each scene in my head. I also understand how I want the character to change, progress and develop their love. My hesitation is this: I know writers must constantly work under deadlines but when is it constructive and when is it harmful?


JoAnn said...

Julie, I can't offer any sage advice on deadlines -- some people love them and some people hate them -- but I can share one experience with you.

I set a deadline for sending in this ms to an editor who had requested the full. I had finished the first draft, but had some major revisions to do. As I neared my deadline, I realized there was no way I could finish the revisions by then. Part of me said "It's your deadline! You HAVE to send it in, no matter what!" My answer to that was "If I send it in now, it's an auto-reject." I got so depressed I couldn't write. Finally I said "Why would I send in something that she's automatically going to reject? I want to submit the absolute best manuscript I can possibly write." That was a very freeing thought. My deadline has come and gone and I'm still working away on revisions, but I know that if this editor rejects it, the reason won't be because it's not my best.

Other people may feel differently, but I say give the book the time it deserves no matter how long it takes.

Good luck!

Karen Beeching said...

I agree with Joann. Personally, I never feel like I'm "done" with a book (I could edit forever), but I know when it's ready for an editor and I won't send it out before I hit that point with a manuscript.

I definitely feel your pain, Julie. I was working part-time for a while and didn't want to give that up as I was able to get a lot more writing done. Still, I had to go back to working full time and now I have to sacrifice so much more just to find time to write.

I do give myself deadlines to push myself to write when I'd rather be napping. I don't always meet those deadlines (especially lately) but it's just a matter of making deadlines my "process" again.

Christy Reece said...

I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. Each author has to make a decision based upon their own individual needs and what motivates them.

For me, I have to have a deadline. If I don't, then I'm going to procrastinate and allow bunches of other things to get in my way.

I started a book in 2006. Wrote about 50 pages and stopped for a lot of reasons. Five months later, I took a couple of online courses and set a deadline of two weeks to finish that book. I finished it in that amount of time. It was a first draft but the words were on the page and that's the most important step. I learned then that if I set a deadline, I am much more motivated than if I don't have a clear end in sight. I have to work toward a definite goal.

But again, that's just me. What works for me might not work for others. Learn what works best for you.

Good luck!

MaryF said...

I agree with JoAnn, too. I intended to finish revisions on a ms before I went back to work 2 weeks ago (I'm a teacher) but the book wasn't cooperating. I wanted it finished by the time my dad came to visit last Wednesday. Didn't happen. I didn't want to rush through just to finish. I finished it last night, 2 weeks after my self-imposed deadline and I'm happy with it.

That said, I worked on it every day. As long as I managed that, I didn't feel as pressured to finish.

Naima said...

Hi, Julie!
I think you can find a middle ground (I'm pretty much going with JoAnn). You can set a deadline to give yourself a goal, but if you don't reach it for whatever reason (scene not working right, going back to work on another section of the ms, LIFE!), don't beat yourself up over it. What I do think is important, though, is setting a reasonable deadline. Because of every day life, I think you have to take all of that into consideration when setting one. But, I also believe you need to meet one, just so you know you CAN. As a published writer, deadlines are a reality. And, when (and I do mean WHEN) that happens, you have to know you're capable of meeting one. I think it'll also boost your confidence.

While writing the ms I just finished, I set a deadline of 2 chapters a week. That might be a bit much for someone else, but it worked for me, because one chapter was due on Friday, which gave me the whole week to complete, and the other was set on Monday, which gave me the weekend to work on it. So, go with your own comfort level. This was wordy (imagine me being wordy?! LOL!), but I hope it helps!