Sunday, July 05, 2009

Why Do You Think They Call Them Deadlines??

My brother had a poster in his room for years. It had a buzzard sitting on a dead tree staring out over the desert and it said "Patience, hell! I'm going to kill something!"

I'm beginning to feel like that buzzard! I really want to have my third book finished by the time I leave for Nationals. That would be Tuesday, July 14th. Yeah, in less than ten days. I'm not going to tell you how many pages I have left to write. Suffice it to say that it is A LOT !!!

This all started when my agent asked if I could have said book finished by Nationals. She'd read the first 30 pages and loved it. Yes, I said 30 pages. Guess what? That's about all I had at that point - May 27th, to be exact. Yes, May 27th of THIS year!

I am not one of these people who can churn out 20 pages a day every day. I have HAD those days (notice the past tense.) I work a full-time job for Wal-Mart and they have begun to restructure so that department managers like myself may end up being over more than one department from now on. Restructuring is just another word for getting one mule to pull two plows. The mule doesn't like it much either!

So, here I sit trying my best to write as many pages as I can every day and I am FRUSTRATED!

How do you deal with a deadline? Does it make it easier or harder to write. Does it inspire you or make you freeze like a deer in the headlights? Are there any little tricks you use to convince yourself that the DEADline is no big deal and that you can just sit down and calmly work toward that DEADline without actually ending up DEAD??? Somebody PLEASE tell me how to do this without losing my mind, or at least losing more than I have already.

That buzzard's solution is starting to look better and better. Is there some way to COERCE your characters into talking to you when they just won't? Don't they understand I'm under a DEADline here????


Jeanie said...


I haven't had the great fortune to be under a book writing deadline thus far, but I keep hoping! I have, however, made a living writing appellate briefs, so I know a little about time management. Right now, I am working on a 16-volume capital murder appeal, which translates to over three thousand pages of transcript to read, plus a multi-issue brief to write. I try to break it into manageable chunks, make a deal with myself to read so many hundred pages a day.

I do the same thing with my 'other' writing. I make myself a goal, say 500 words a day, and try to stick to it. Some days I make it and then some (1300 words yesterday. Whoo-hoo!), and some days I don't. But, that way I average a chapter a week, which for me, working full time and with two teenagers, two dogs, a household to run and a husband, ain't too shabby.

I think if I HAD to write an entire book in a little over a month, like you are trying to do, I would totally freak out! My best suggestion is to take it in small bites. Tell yourself to write so much per week, and try and make that goal, then move on to the next one. Like with Weight Watchers, you don't look at the BIG number you want to lose, just the first ten percent. Keeps you from getting discouraged and overwhelmed.

However you decide to handle this, I am sure you are up to the task. You are a brilliant writer with a natural gift for storytelling. You can do this!

Oh, yeah, and prayer helps.

No kidding. Whenever I get stuck or discouraged or feel uninspired, I pray for guidance and inspiration. And, it works! Can't tell you how many times I've been bogged down and the Big Guy has come through. He's like the ultimate muse.

Best of luck with it, and keep me posted. Oh, wait, you blog, so you're already doing that. . . Never mind!

Peggy Webb said...

Louisa, loved your post. Jeanie is right. Set manageable goals. I would also suggest you give yourself a small reward each time you meet a weekly page quota. It could be a walk through the garden, a movie, an triple fudge ice cream sundae, an hour on the front porch swing with a cup of gree tea chai - anything that feeds your spirit.

Another way to lure the muse is to create a routine that sends a signal to the brain: "We're writing now." I put on a favorite CD of Marina Raye's native American flute, brew a cup of green tea chai, set a plate of munchies (dates and walnuts or Geraldine's Bodacious Cheese Straws) on my desk, and I'm ready to go. Trust me. This works. I haven't missed a deadline in 25 years (65 books).

Good luck. And may you have many deadlines in your future!

M.V.Freeman said...

Like Jeanie, I've had my deadlines, (but not in the writing world *sigh*) and I also have a routine to set me up to write (Like Peggy does)for example, right now I have to do revisions so I am brewing me a small pot of hot tea..and I am going to sit down with it and charge forward.

What really pushed me, and made me turn a corner in my writing was a class I took by Candace Havens, "Rough draft in 2 weeks".

It was painful, but I succeeded in getting a rough draft done (hence revisions). You have already finished two books, you know how to do this. For worked and-I thought her points were helpful (although I have to admit, I could not follow them as closely as she wanted me to)

Just for informational sake I am going to share a few--they are all common sense, but I liked them.

1. No excuses-Except death and illness. Try to turn off work-which is difficult!
2. Set yourself up for a major write-try to clear up your schedule--for example- if you can freeze some meals, get help with your animals..anything.
3. Write. For 2-3 hours a night! Just let it go...(yes its bloody exhausting and HARD)
4. While writing -Turn off that dad blasted inner editor (that took me a few tries-weirdly I found listening to blues helped) and just let it write.
5. If you don't know what to write put XXX and a note then move on.

As I wrote, I found I liked what I saw in the story. Yes, it needs revisions...but it helped me focus.

Again this is only a suggestion, the only one I know. I'm just an unpubbed person, but even I can feel the panic in your blog.

I hope there was something positive you could get out of this post, because I know you can finish that book!

Karen Beeching said...

For me, it depends--at least in part--on your process. Do you write a full rough draft and then polish or do you polish along the way? This might make a difference.

I'm a polish-along-the-way kind of girl. I don't know if I could do a rough draft and not polish before giving it to my agent.

And let me point that out again. YOUR AGENT! Jeesh, you must get tired of hearing that already, right?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Just keeping things perspective, missy.

You'll do it!! Hang in there!!


Kate Diamond said...

I can't answer this question, as I'm agonizing over redrafts of my first novel. Nobody has asked to see it. I don't have a deadline hanging over my head. I keep imposing self-created deadlines, which doesn't work. I don't take myself seriously enough.

But then, I'm never going to be a true professional at this unless I can commit to getting my butt in a seat and, as Cherry Adair would say, finishing the damn book.

So... I'm rather hoping that someone will have some advice for me, too!

Cari Hislop said...

I gave myself a deadline last year to finish a book by Christmas. I made the deadline, but I had to push and push and mentally force myself to slog on. That deadline became a mental garotte. I don't know how people can repeatedly work to deadlines. I'll never do it again. It's taken me almost six months to recover from the depression and mental injury and I'm still not back to full speed.

personally, I wouldn't be able to write a book in a month even in my wildest dream and if anyone suggested I do so I'd tell them to go fly their chocolate pig. Its easy for an agent to say..."Can I have that book you started three weeks ago in a month?" They're not the ones beating their head against the brick wall when the characters get fed up with being forced to tell the story faster than they feel comfortable and start sulking. Personally I'd throw the whole insanity out the window and just get on with writing the story at the pace you feel comfortable with...the pace the characters set.

Louisa Cornell said...

Thank you all so much for your advice, comments and commiserations! Somehow, it is very comforting to know that I'm not stacking these deck chairs on the Titanic alone! LOL

And no, Karen, I don't know if I will EVER get tired of hearing MU AGENT!! It has such a nice ring to it! Or is that the bell calling me to get my butt back in the chair and finish the damned book???

Christine said...

I'm chiming in late... but I love love my microwave timer. I set it for 60 minutes... I must sit in my chair and stare at the computer and not move till it beeps. I can be bored, but writing anything is better than boredom... I did it for BOOK IN A WEEK. First draft.. and I continue to do it for all writing now. Of course, I have no deadlines now.

I will send up prayers for you!! You will get it done. Put a picture of you with a bunch of fake money and an I QUIT WALMART WHEN I WON THE BOOK PUBLISHING NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER LOTTERY banner in your writing space.

Me? I am motivated by my DD's looming college bills. I hate wearing pantyhose....

Must sell something I've written....

Christine said...

Oh... forgot to mention that the timer is reset after every mini break... it works