Deadlines, the Glory

Happy New Year! Welcome to my first post of 2016. I debated talking about the goals I’d set for the year, but I went on at length about them on Anxiety Ink. Today’s topic absolutely ties in though.

There’s something about a deadline that spurs you to get your butt in a chair and write. Especially when you’ve made that deadline with another person. Perhaps it’s a mix of competitiveness, integrity, or accountability. I’m not positive what gets you to get things done. All I do know is that it’s awesome when you do.

I’m not sure if I’ve brought this up before, but Kate and I made a pact the very first day of our When Words Collide workshop: we’d both have a completed manuscript to show the other on January 5, 2016.

Between August and November, as I know I’ve said, I got absolutely zero writing done. My story sat in the confines of my computer waiting for me. Begging me to finish it. And I had this damn deadline looming. November turned into my Holy Grail month; all of my concentrated efforts went into producing 50 000 words, but more importantly, finishing my book!

Well, I finished it and I started the second one.

I was not anticipating enjoying writing RA2 as much as I am. I’m still working on it because unlike in November the rest of the world can’t be ignored any more. I’m still producing words for it a month later, which is a far bigger win for me than printing my winner’s certificate off of NaNo’s site.

But back to the deadline. My manuscript is not completed even though I “finished” the story. Why? Well, RA1 has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The first chapter is polished, because it had to be for that workshop I mentioned above, but the four chapters that follow are in a different tense than the rest of the book because I figured out in chapter 5 that this had to be a first person narrative. On top of that, the document is riddled with notes to myself to fill in scenes and details in parts where I realized I didn’t know enough at the time to write it and I needed to do some research before I tackled it again.

A manuscript is finished, even merely a first draft, when all those holes have been patched to the best of your ability. I knew I wanted to do those things by the 5th, but I didn’t.

Time by John Morgan via Flickr

Time by John Morgan via Flickr

Then Kate messaged me on December 28th, guiltily confessing that she would not have her draft finished because her comic book project completely took over her life. More than she had ever anticipated it would.

How could I not tell her that that so counted when my sequel totally took over mine? I said in the face of the other projects we’d taken on, and the words we’d put into the original pieces we’d dubbed our deadline manuscripts, we’d made it.

I don’t have a deadline, per say, to get my edits completed for RA1 or my current draft of RA2 finished (with the same holes that RA1 is currently boasting). I’m letting RA2 continue its organic course right now because I’m learning so many things I need to incorporate into RA1. But I need to pick dates. I know I need deadlines to get things accomplished in a timely manner. And so I don’t fall into the same slump as before.

So that’s the next task, laying out all my projects and picking manageable dates to have them wrapped up. I may or may not lean on Kate again. I don’t know yet. It would be nice to know that I can be accountable to myself.

That’s how I feel about deadlines. They’re glorious; but I’m a person who works well under pressure. What do you think?