Monday, December 16, 2019

Deadlines - Writing Under the Hammer

Hammer fall Art Print

Every writers' bane, right?


Leonard Bernstein, director of the New York Philharmonic and one of the most talented and successful musicians in USA history, had a different take. He said:
To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.
Image from Who do Writer's Really Write for?
But still... deadlines. What a bitch... Especially during the 'holidays'. 

Love them or hate them, every published writer has to deal with the.

At least they are well named.

The History of Deadlines

Originally, a deadline was literal, an actual line drawn around a prison. If prisoners crossed it, the guards could shoot to kill.

Nowadays, it can feel as dire. Miss a publisher's deadline and the writer's entire career can derail, especially in commercial fiction.

Hard and Soft Deadlines

Yet, not all deadlines are equal. In the industry, they call them soft or hard. The soft deadlines are malleable. It's expected to edit and revise beyond them. The hard deadlines? That's the shoot to kill order, only it's the career that dies, not the author. (Some writers feel it's one and the same...)

Ancient Magic Script - Etsy
Those soft deadlines are important. For example, I set myself writing goals for new work - a scene a day, or 2k words a day, depending on the stage of the story. I stick to them, 95% of the time, but I don't burst into flames if one day is missed.

With hard deadlines, the only sane thing to do is meet them. Without complaint. There are too many publishable authors ready to take your place if you prove too 'difficult' to work with.

Remember, shoot to kill.

Support for Meeting Deadlines

There are a few things you can do meet every deadline every thrown at you. One is to make sure your agent has negotiated reasonable expectation for turnaround times with your editor BEFORE you sign the contract.

Another is all about the planning. I map out the editorial schedule and make sure I clear the decks for each phase of the process.

Sock up on essentials! 
I stock up on necessities (coffee, cat food, quick but healthy foodstuffs) before the edits come back to me. I also write blog posts, columns, reports and newsletters well in advance so there is nothing else on my plate when the time comes to write.

What About Procrastination?

If there is a tendency to procrastinate, explore possible reasons - fear of failure, fear of success, Mars in Taurus, Cancer or Pisces, not loving the project -  and find solutions, again, BEFORE the deadline looms.

Best Tip Ever

Set an intention ahead of time to meet the deadline efficiently and with massive amounts of creative savvy and ease. 

How to do that?

Go here for details but this, from my friend Jeannette Maw, will put you in the sweet spot.

On-the-Fly Intention Setting
(for when you don’t have a lot of advance prep time)
  1. Focus your thoughts on the result or experience you want (deadline met, in our case)
  2. Let it go

Could it get any easier? The only thing better than how simple it is, is how effective you’ll find it!

Have a deadline story to tell? I'd love to hear it in the comments!

Now, back to work!

* * *

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out March 2020 - The Crown of Bones. (Writing under the pen name A.K. Wilder)

Also, check her urban fantasy  - 
The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Or pop over and throw the bones on the site.

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