FWIS – Deadlines, or It Needs To Be Done WHEN?

1 Feb

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Things obviously change when you go from writing to yourself, to writing for an agent, to writing for a contract. One of those big things is deadlines.

But, I’m going to be honest here — I’ve always kept hard deadlines. And I kicked my own butt to meet them.

Over the last few years as I’ve had more than one person tell me to “relax” and “it doesn’t matter if you hit that deadline because it’s only for you.”

Well my darlings… there’s going to be YEARS where your writing is only for you. And if you’re not hitting deadlines you map out, those years are going to be even longer. To me, this is one of the first clues that writing is a hobby — you don’t care when it gets done. If it gets done, GREAT! If not….. *shrugs*

Now, I’m not saying that you need to have insane deadlines and you change you’re life and throw away all the other stuff going on with family and friends and work to hit them. Think smart about them (trust me, search goals on my blog and you can see enough I’ve taken from my ACers Workshop to figure out how I do it and a lot of what I’ve taught others in how they might do it).

Secondly, first books are times to learn a lot about your writing…and one of those things is deadlines. I tracked everything I did during my first book. Actually, I still do. This way, I know how long a project should take. I know that’s changed over the years as I’ve gotten better, known my abilities, created my own tools and worked smarter. Also, I know it takes different amounts of time for different sub-genres.

Now , after a few years of tracking my work and giving myself deadlines, I’m writing for my agent.

The best part of this is that (unless an alphasmart eats my book…um, yeah) I know roughly how long things take. When the Laird and I discuss when something should be done, I’m fairly accurate (Yes, I seem to overestimate myself still) but I’m close.

If you haven’t started thinking about how long things take you, how can you agree to things? How can you know you can hit a contract or what you need to do to hit it?

I’m glad I spent that first book learning as much about me and my writing style (along with everything else you need to learn to become a better writer) because it’s allowed me to improve how I do things along with what I’m doing.

I think of it this way, everything I do as an un-contracted writers is practice. Like running drills for a sport, everything I do know gets me sharp and prepared for anything that might happen on the field of publishing when I’m throwing in the game.

So, un-contracted writers: Get out there and run your drills, do you laps, and get your writing life in shape for hitting someone else’s deadlines. Because what you do now really will shape the author you’ll be in the future.


4 Responses to “FWIS – Deadlines, or It Needs To Be Done WHEN?”

  1. jessicacorra February 1, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Oh, exactly. It’s like anything – if you aren’t meeting your deadlines now, what makes you think getting an agent or editor will magically imbue you with that ability? Like if you’re dating a guy who’s chronically late and you decide to marry him, you think you’re no longer going to be annoyed by that habit because you’re married now? What??

  2. briaq February 1, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I HATE to wait. I once told a boyfriend if he left me sitting at dinner for 15 mins again I wouldn’t be there. Imagine his suprise when he walked into the place 25 mins late….and I wasn’t there *snort*

  3. abby mumford February 1, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    we both have sports analogies! ha. awesome. and tracking the time it takes to go through the phases of writing never occurred to me. GAH. there is still so much to learn about writing, sometimes i forget i need to learn about myself as a writer too.

    good thing you’re here to remind me.

    p.s. i too hate to wait, but since i hate it so much, i try my hardest never to make others wait for me, which means i’m usually early and left waiting…… double edged sword, much?

  4. briaq February 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    I know the feeling. Then, when ppl are 10 mins late, they feel 20 mins late.

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