Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Deadlines



We've all had them at one time or another. For many years, I worked in an accountant's office. There is nothing like the deadline of April 15th to make you realize that some deadlines can't be missed or ignored. I look back on those days as good training ground for becoming an author.

Once I sold my first book, I quickly found I had many deadlines: turning in drafts, edits, blurbs and etc. Wanting to earn the trust of my publisher, I have worked hard to meet my deadlines. So far, so good.

Because of book deadlines either set by my publisher or set by myself, I have never participated in the annual deadline of NaNoWriMo which takes place every November. During this month, many writers sign themselves up for the deadline of writing over 50,000 words by the 30th. What an awesome goal! 

But NaNoWriMo is not for every writer. Some writers feel that they can't spend time writing words for the sake of a word count. There are some who are afraid of developing bad habits. And there are some who actually become very discouraged and feel they are failures because they can't meet that deadline.

Writing words for the sake of a word count . . .
Some writers are very methodical during the writing process. They can't leave a sentence or paragraph alone until they know it is grammatically correct, every word is spelled correctly, and the story is progressing as it should. I greatly admire writers who work this way because by the time they are finished with a book, they really are finished. There's no reading the book many times to edit or catch plot problems because they've already done it. This type of writer would have a difficult time participating in NaNoWriMo because they would have to work fast and the perfectionist inside would slow them down.

Developing bad habits . . .
Writing very fast can be dangerous. Errors can spin out of control: characterizations can be forgotten, plots can run amok, and editing . . . well let's just say it's difficult to catch grammar and punctuation errors when your fingers are flying over the keyboard trying to keep up with your racing mind. Writers blindness can become a problem, too. Before you know it you're reading words that aren't there, but you see them because that's what your mind sees. Be very careful not to develop bad habits speed writing. They can be difficult to break. (Take it from someone who knows.)

Missing the deadline . . .
No one wants to miss a deadline. No one likes quitting before they finish a job. But for some, this does happen. The thing to remember is you tried and nothing is stopping you from trying again and again. NaNoWriMo may come and go, but you can still set your own deadlines and push to meet them. Hopefully each time you try you'll learn how much you can expect to write in a day, or week, or month. You'll also realize how long it will take you to write an entire book. With every venture you're growing and learning more about yourself and your craft.

Sure NaNoWriMo might not be for every writer, but it does make writers think more seriously about their work and that's a good thing.

How do you feel about NaNoWriMo? Are you participating? What have you learned most about yourself as a writer?





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8 comments:

  1. Deadlines--I need them!! Or at least a to do list. :)

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  2. Coleen,
    Deadlines help a lot, don't they? They give you a target to work for. Guess that's what I need right now. A deadline. But I'm holding back enjoying my down time for the moment. :)

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  3. I think you hit on many of the reasons I couldn't do NaNo. I like to fix my sentences as I go and I like to be sure the plot is laid out before I go too far!

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  4. Terri:
    You're not alone. I'm that way, too. And I know other writers are as well. NaNo is a great motivator for many, which is great. The thing to do is find what motivates you and go for it. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. I operate best on a tight schedule :) Deadlines help me get things done. I'm not participating in NaNo this year, but I have my own personal writing goal to accomplish!

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  6. Julie:
    I know what you mean. Goals help me as well, especially if I write it down. Feels like a contract that way. :)

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  7. I think NaNo can be a good thing for some people. I've never done it, because it doesn't seem to fit into my schedule. Plus, when I'm writing first drafts, I write 3000 words a day, anyway...

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  8. Talli,
    Wow! Three thousand a day. That's awesome. Wish I could do that. :)

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