Writer’s Digest, a popular American magazine that focuses on writers and writing advice, has a pdf article called “Why A Writer Without a Deadline is Looking for Trouble.” It’s a downloadable link that you can find at the end of this post. Every time I slow down with my writing, procrastinate more and more, start thinking I might have to adjust my deadline, and push it back, I reread this article.
Without a deadline, I’ll always find a reason to never stop writing. That sounds counter-intuitive or backwards, but let me explain. If I don’t say finish this chapter by this date, then I’ll keep writing on that chapter…forever. Always editing it and revising it. Always starting over. It’ll never get finished. But if I say finish by this date and I STICK to the deadline, the chapter will get finished, it has to be finished. Then I can move onto the next thing.
Character profiles (what does Zak want most), conflict brainstorming (what obstacles stand in the way), main antagonist (who is stopping her from getting it) outlining (story beats in order,) it goes on and on. It has to get finished.
And the draft. The first draft must be completed. And for me, I followed Stephen King’s advice from his book On Writing. He says within that a first draft should take no longer than three months. As someone who took years to finally write a completed draft for her first novel (the eighth draft I wrote was the first completed, the first seven were not), I know this advice is an absolute must for me.
Below is my deadline schedule, copied and pasted from my document:
|Month||Subject||Due Date: 2019|
|September/October/November||First draft of Zak Pittman. A full draft, beginning, middle, end.||November 31st|
|December||Let the draft rest for two weeks.||December 14th|
|December||Outline the novel. Find the structure, fix the plot holes.||December 31st|
September is gone, and October is on it’s way out. I’ve got three incomplete drafts of my novel right now, currently the place-holder title is Zak Pittman, the name of the main character. National Novel Writing Month is next month, and my plan is to use November to finish a completed first draft.
For December’s deadlines I followed another of Stephen King’s advice from On Writing, to not look at or re-read the draft after I finish it, and let it sit for about two or three weeks. Then come back to it with fresh eyes.
It’s not written yet, but by January 2020, I’ll be starting the second draft. My goal is to have Zak Pittman’s novel finished by December 2020. I won’t take eight years to finish like I did with The Other Side.
Its all about the deadlines.
To really get writing done, to get the fingers to the keys, the pen to the paper, a deadline is a must.
And as always, while I write my cat Aomine keeps me company by my side.