Monday, February 21, 2011
A Twelve Step Program for Writers
I was thinking the other day how much harder writing has gotten since I started dealing with the dreaded "D" word. And no, I don't mean divorce, although sometimes the man pushes the limits. I'm talking about a deadline…that one little day marked on the calendar that reminds me every time I look at it how much I haven't written.
Per my contract, I have nine months to write each book in the series. You'd think that would be plenty of time even for a snail writer like me. So why am I in panic mode two months before I have to turn in the manuscript?
It's that damn "P" word. I don't know about you, but for some reason when I know I HAVE to write, I find everything under the sun that has to be done immediately. You know, the important things like the closet that needs organized, the twenty episodes of 48 Hours that need watched, and oh yeah, I can't forget the pictures on my computer that have to be labled and catalogged. I can so relate to the PROCRASTINATING animals who missed the boat.
And yes, my closet looks amazing… all in the name of NOT writing.
So, I sat down and interviewed myself about why I do this, and I thought you might like to hear what I had to say.
Me: So, Liz, is there anything more important to you than your writing?
Procrastinating me: Of course, silly. There's God, grandkids, family, friends, strangers, TV characters, pets, starving children in India, and how many cans of Rotel I have left in my pantry.
Me: So, do you hate writing?
Procrastinating me: Of course not, you ignoramus. I love writing. Sometimes I can't sleep at night because I'm creating dialogue in my head or planning who will die next in my story. Sometimes, that’s all I can think about even when I’m supposed to be paying attention to the Sunday sermon. (God understands. He has kids!!)
Me: Then why do you wait until the last minute to really get your writing juices flowing? Why do you let yourself get into that crisis?
Procrastinating me: Hi, I'm Liz, and I'm a CRISIS JUNKIE.
Why has it taken me so long to see this? I love feeling the rush of the deadline… love the pressure it puts me under. I do my best work under these conditions. How crazy is that?
Even crazier is that admitting it lifts the weight off my shoulders. Now, instead of worrying that I'm losing my love for writing, I know I'm simply gearing up for the very thing that sends endorphins pulsing through my veins.
My deadline for Book 2 is April 1. As of January 1, I had less than 100 pages written. Every week since then I have written and edited 25 pages. Not a lot to some of you guys who spit out chapters like cherry seeds, but it’s huge for me.
And you know what? I love the story I’m weaving. I have about 30 more pages before I type "the end" with enough time left for an entire month dedicated to editing and beta readers. I won't miss my deadline, but my book won't get to the editor one minute too early.
So, for the past two months while I've been working like a maniac, I’ve sacrificed e-mails, blogging, Facebook, and even my daily Sudoku while I write like a woman possessed.
Thank God I got that stupid closet cleaned out! Now, all I have to do is find time to haul all the junk to Goodwill.
So, tell me – how do you deal with deadlines, either your own or industry-generated ones? Do you need to go to a meeting with me?