Sunday, February 28, 2016

Making That Deadline

Deadlines are the bane of all professional writers. Once you make the jump from writing for yourself to writing for readers for money, you’ll have to deal with deadlines. In the beginning, you most likely will be working on shorter pieces—articles and short stories—the deadlines for which aren’t too stressful. In fact, there really aren’t deadlines for short stories except self-imposed ones.

But once you start writing books, deadlines will become an everyday challenge. At first, you may equate deadlines with due dates, but you’ll soon come to realize there’s a whole lot more to them.

Before you even begin work on a book—whether a project of your own that you’ve pitched to a publisher or one commissioned by a publisher—you need to assess the amount of time you have to work on it. How much research will you need to do? How much writing will be involved? How many words will your book be? After you know the answers to these questions, you’ll need to ask yourself how long it will take to write that number of words?

How long it will take you to write your book depends on how many words you can comfortably write in a day—500, 1,000, 2,000, 3,000. Once you know that, you’ll be able to figure if your deadline will allow enough time to research and write your book. Frankly, you should figure all this out before signing a contract, agreeing to write a book.

Most books average 40,000 to 125,000 words. Check your contract for the number of words your publisher expects. Too many intermediate writers faced with the opportunity to write a book, think more about the potential fame and fortune a book may bring and less of actually getting it done.

While you may plan on writing a certain number of words per day, many things can prevent you from doing so. Are you planning on writing seven days a week or will you take weekends off? What about days where you just can’t produce enough material? Will you be able to take a day off and make it up the following day? It’s a risk.                       

Remember to allow time for editing and an additional week to read over your finished manuscript.

In order not to let deadlines stress you out, you’ve got to set yourself up for success. Do the best you can and press onward. Nothing screws up trying to make a deadline than continually redoing parts over and over. So the better prepared and organized you are to begin with, the smoother your writing will go.

Too many writers work too long at one sitting. Be sure to take breaks. Working in true deadline mode doesn’t mean working until you drop. Try not to write for longer than two hours at a stretch. Between sessions, go for a walk, watch some T.V., or visit a museum. You need to replenish yourself even if you don’t think you have the time. You’ll soon discover that by taking regular breaks, your writing will flow along because your mind is fresh.

1 comment:

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