July 31, 2013

Writing Club Wednesday - How Writing on a Deadline Has Changed My Writing Life

Hey hey, Misfiteers! It's me, Misfit Leigh Ann, here to write my first Writing Club Wednesday in a looooong time.

What has changed since the last time I blogged about writing over here? Well, I've become a published author with two more books due to come out in the next seven months, and become a ghost writer (and that's all I'm going to say about that) with a demanding to-do list. All of this adds up to......

DEADLINES!

Lots of them! Everywhere! In different colors on the calendar, even!

From what I see on Twitter, deadlines completely freak a lot of authors out. Sometimes there's even...resentment? Panic? Gnashing of teeth? So, of course, I expected that I would be a great big ball of anxiety (even more so than usual) in the face of all these deadlines that suddenly popped into my life. Miraculously, though, I figured out a way to deal with them - and learning how to do that turned me into a better, more efficient writer.

(At least, I think it did.)

Let me tell you  how:

Deadlines made me faster - The words had to get done by a certain date - no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Being on deadline forced me to find a way to get the words on the page as quickly as possible. After a couple months of trial and error, I figured out that, when I outline first, Write or Die (see Misfit Chessie's post on it here) can push me to write anywhere from 8,000-12,000 words on a dedicated writing day, and I came up with a pretty clean first draft in eight days. Not too shabby.

Because deadlines forced me to a greater volume of work...

Deadlines made me less emotionally attached to my stories - This allowed me to see a story for what it is - not a baby, not a heart song, not the love of my life. A story is, well...just a story. It has characters, conflict, and a beginning, middle, and end. Each one is unique, and I really really like each and every story I write, but if it were to die for whatever reason...I'm fairly confident that I won't die along with it.

I know the feeling of having a "book of your heart" - my debut novel was that for me. If someone hated it, I was distraught, and if someone loved it, I would fly high as a kite. Even though I'd heard all the stuff about subjectivity being a beast and not every story being for every person, it still hit me pretty hard when someone didn't like mine.

Now that I've written six novels and a short story in the course of the past twelve months, I'm a little less attached to each of them. For me, that's been great, simply because I'm not paralyzed with worry over what other people will think of the stories. I have more than one way to reach readers, and more than one story to tell. Not every reader will love every story, and that's okay.

Which leads me to....

Deadlines pushed me to tackle critique more quickly and more seriously.

I'm lucky that I get to call writing a job - a legitimate, money-earning job with tasks and accountables and performance statistics. If I'm putting out a product that I want to make sure is as good as it can be in the time frame allotted, I don't have a second to waste in reading, considering, and implementing critique.

Now, I pick a couple of CPs whose judgment I trust implicitly, and I do whatever they say. Seriously. (If they disagree, I do what I think is best. ;)) Instead of spending time reading CP notes and crying, or trying to justify my choices, or finding a way out of doing with my CP suggested, I now take edit letters and critique notes not as possibilities, but as assignments.

If my CP tells me a a PoV needs more sensory detail, I do it. If she tells me an arc needs to be clearer, I add more information. If she tells me the middle sags, I figure out a way to bolster it, and I do it quickly. No waffling, no whining, clarifying questions only. Then I just put my head down and get the work done. I have to - I'm on a deadline!

Have you ever worked on a deadline? How did it affect your writing?

4 comments:

Sarah Negovetich said...

This is great stuff. I need to start giving myself deadlines (with personal consequences for missing them).

Amy Leigh Strickland said...

Writer's block is an excuse, but it can be plowed through, and usually what people produce when they're "uninspired" is surprisingly good. Deadlines FTW!

Darci Cole said...

I can't wait to get to that point. Seriously. To call writing my job will be the best thing ever. And even now, I FEEL like it is, but I haven't started earning yet. So, when it begins, I will flail and jump around for a day, and then get back to work. Because I'M ON A DEADLINE.

;)

Great post!

pink said...

Interesting point about taking CP advice. I've been pushing myself toward just doing whatever a trusted partner says over the years, but haven't taken the leap yet. I think I will.

Great post!

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