Friday, September 14, 2007

Writing the Book of Your Heart – With Deadlines for the Unpublished Author

Julie Leto has an incredible article on Writing the book of your heart – Ditching the book of your heart for your voice. Check it out when you’re finished here. Or check it out now and come back.

This is actually for the unpublished or not published in a while author. Yes, I do call us authors because that’s what we are. We’re writers who author our books.

Okay, you’re writing your first book, or maybe it’s your fifth. You’ve not yet been published (never say not published but not yet published), or it’s been a while, a long while since your last book sold.

Since you’re not yet published, you’re taking your time, writing as you can fit it in. Rewriting chapter one, oh no less than 10 – 12 times. It’s okay. Lift your chin back up, we’ve all been there and many of us are there right now.

My question to you is this. Have you given yourself deadlines? Deadlines, you asked. Why would I do that? I’m not contracted yet. I don’t have deadlines.

Well you’re right, you don’t. But you will. You’ll finish that book, shine it to perfection, and ship it off to the editor (or to the agent who will then ship to editor).

Guess what? They love it. Not only do they love it, they want to contract you to a two book deal. Those secondary characters that you loved so much? So does the editor. He/She can so see them in their own book.

Now can you guess where this is going? In said contract you’re going to have a deadline for that book. You haven’t even started on Sally and Harry’s book. Heck, you’ve been working on that Historical that you thought you’d never write, instead.

That’s okay; you’re snoopy dancing around the kitchen with a glass of wine in one hand and chocolate in the other. You’ve got a contract and they want a second book. Squeeeee!!! All right, if you are like me, you’re probably dancing all through the house and there are lots of Squeee’s going on. :)

Time to sit down and begin S & H’s book. You’re so excited your fingers fly across the keyboard. This is great! You’re going to have this done in no time at all. Chapter four…you’ve stared at those words for 2 weeks now. Where or where is this going? What happened? Then you decide, heck its fine. I’ve got 4 months to get this done. No worries.

Trust me on this. It is just the beginning of your worries, unless you’re the much loved Nora Roberts. Very few people can spew out a book in less than 3 months, revise and get said book to the editor.

Now is the time to make deadlines and stick to them. Start with something you know you can do and work your way up. But by all means make them. Be accountable to someone (here on Monday’s or to your CP, just someone) for the deadlines. If you don’t make one, that’s okay. Even seasoned writers have to ask their editors for an extension once in a while.

If you can get yourself used to deadlines now when you actually don’t have them, they will be much easier to work with once you do. It’s a lot like exercise. At first you can only go a mile on the treadmill and your leg muscles are dying. Before you know it you’re doing five miles and it’s easier. In fact, if you don’t make your daily five mile treadmill walk you become sort of grouchy. It’s now become your part of you.

So tell us, do you have deadlines when you’re writing? Do you stick to them? Has it helped you?

I’ll announce this week’s winners on Sunday so make sure you check back. Oh and today’s comments count. :)

Writing Wishes and Plotting Dreams,


Jill James said...

Even unpublished authors have to have deadlines. It keeps us focused and it is good practice.

Thanks for the reminder.

C.L. Wilson said...


This blog is quite possibly one of the most relevant articles any "on the cusp" unpub could read.

It is 100% accurate! And as I discovered after my first sale, there is a commonly known phenomonon my editor calls "Second Book Syndrome". It's when the authors eyes go big and round as they realize...I have to write this by WHEN? Oh no!

I quit my job to give myself more time to write. Ha! What I've discovered is that distractions are like gas - they expand to fill all available space! (or time as the case may be!)

So start practicing deadlines now. You will be glad you did!

Patricia W. said...

I've found that writing on a deadline keeps me focused in a way that simply saying, "I'm working on a novel" never did. Started my current wip at beginning of July. Will finish this month. First attempt at using a deadline. I've gotten farther than I ever have, and I'm on target.

Julie S said...

I'm torn about deadlines. I have them at the dayjob so I'm used to them, and I try to give them to myself with my writing, but they're hard to keep because life gets in the way. But I need to be more diligent because when I am published someday I'll actually need to keep to them!