Deadline Panic and the Holidays

It just hit me that Thanksgiving is only a week away. That also means Christmas is just five weeks away. Which means that sometime in the next 5 weeks I have to finish writing two books, get two covers done, editing, proofreading, formatting, and uploading completed.

Yeah, in less than five weeks. The panic is setting in.

I’m one of those people who really get into gear as the deadlines close in. When I was in high school, I waited until the last minute to start major projects, but I always managed to get them done. Sometimes is was three in the morning by the time I finished, but I still got up at seven and made it to school, project in hand.

When I first started writing, I joined RWA, then DARA (Dallas Area Romance Authors), and I signed up for my first conference. By the time the conference rolled around, I had about 10,000 words written on my first book. And I had an appointment with Allison Lyons from Harlequin. I’d never had an editor appointment, I barely knew what I was doing at this point, but I sat down and told her about my book. All 10,000 words of it. I made up the rest on the spot.

And then I did the unthinkable. I promised she’d have the completed manuscript in six weeks.

A first time writer, producing 65,000 legible words, in six weeks. Yikes. But when the panic set in as soon as I got home and thought about what I’d done, I sat down and wrote. And wrote. Allison had the manuscript on her desk a week ahead of the promised date. No, she didn’t buy it, but she did ask for revisions and I met every deadline she threw at me. But I was too in love with my “baby” to make the hard choices and change the things that needed to be changed to make it a “Harlequin” book. I will always be grateful for her encouragement, though.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about writing, about rewriting and revising. And the more I’ve learned, the slower I write. I’ve lost the ability to just let the story flow and not worry about the rules as I go. I write, rewrite, edit each section before I move on. I sleep on a plot problem until it unravels. I beat my head against my desk (figuratively) until my characters talk to me.

Will I make this deadline in spite of Thanksgiving, Black Friday shopping, Christmas decorating, and my fortieth anniversary? Does a self-imposed deadline really matter anyway? To me it does, and I’m going to do my level best to make it happen. Sometimes life happens and things don’t go the way we plan, but if I don’t have a goal, and a deadline, nothing gets done. It’s a Gemini thing. It’s like when I go into the house to get something and I see something I meant to do earlier so I stop to do that, then I see something else and before I know it, I’m back in my office without whatever it was I went to get in the first place.

For a writer, everything is new and shiny and distracting. New blog? Oooh, I wanna go see. New pictures? Yes, show me! But when the deadline looms, you have to put away Facebook and Twitter and Bubble Safari and Cityville and get down to the business of writing.

What about you? Do you accomplish more with a deadline looming, or when you have all the time in the world?

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6 thoughts on “Deadline Panic and the Holidays

  1. Lord, we must be related. I write slow. Very slow. Yet, this month I’m in NaNo, and have over 18k words so far. I’ve been doing them in 25 minute segments several times a day. And I will continue to write this way after NaNo…I finally found what I needed to focus during the writing, that little timer on the side of my computer.


  2. Hey, I’m right there in full-blown panic mode too. I’ve been trying to get this one book finished all year, but everything has interfered with that goal. Every time I get going on it, something has happened that forced me to stop writing and tend to the emergency du jour. I had planned to publish 6 books this year. Will I make it? Your guess is as good as mine. The clock is ticking.


  3. Trying to celebrate what I have written through out the day but,almost without exception, I am disappointed I didn’t eek out at least a few hundred words more. I think deadlines help, they help me anyway. Self imposed or imposed by others, a deadline is a deadline and I tend to write more under the weight of them. NaNo is helping me write with more consistency and I mean to make this consistency a habit as well. By this time in 2013 I want to have 3 more books completed and be working on yet another. The path to completion, I’m learning, is consistent hard work!


  4. Leigh, I know what you mean. I pulled an all nighter tonight (it’s now 5 a.m.), and I’m disappointed that I didn’t write more than I did. But I’m eight pages farther along than I was before, and I found the cover pictures I needed and sent them to the cover designer, so I guess I accomplished something. I may regret this lack of sleep in a little while, though. 🙂


  5. I think our self imposed deadlines are worse than anything a corporation would put on us. I’m trying to get a book out of here this weekend and I feel as if I’m failing. Edits are taking longer than expected or am I not working quickly enough?

    I’m hiding from the holidays. LOL


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