May 18, 2011

Deadline Drama

Reading: A Family for the Rugged Rancher by Donna Alward

Watching: Grey's Anatomy now that it's back on!!

Listening to: Brooke Fraser

When I was unpublished, I used to be so envious of writer friends who had deadlines. All I wanted was a deadline. Multiple deadlines! Because that would mean that an editor was waiting for me to write my next story . . . that they actually wanted to read my work.

Now that I’m published, deadlines are suddenly a whole lot more scary. Even though I write relatively fast and often hand in work before it’s due, I still have each deadline date in my mind and worry about it regularly. What if I get writer’s block? What if I can’t turn a good first chapter in a great full length story? The “what ifs” are endless!

In the end, it all works out, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But on the published side of the fence, there is a whole lot more pressure to perform. And like many other authors out there, there are days when I love my writing and other days when my confidence plummets. On those days, looming deadlines can be terrifying. But then you receive author copies of a book in the mail or see a new listing for one of your books on Amazon, and its like an instant shot of confidence.

So how do you perform under deadline? Do you thrive under pressure, or does the very thought of having to deliver material by a specified date leave you a quivering mess?


  1. Soraya, that is such an interesting question! I normally perform well under pressure. I don't crumble at the thought of exams. Give me multiple deadline and I'll meet them. But lately...

    I guess our brain/body can only handle so much and it lets us know if we're overextending ourselves for too long. Being able to say no, or rather negotiating, is a powerful asset.

  2. I know what you mean. I usually like deadlines and I always meet them, but sometimes you can have so much going on for so long, as you say, that saying yes takes its toll!

  3. Hi Soraya,

    I don't really have the deadlines you girls do, but I'm sure that will happen soon...then I'll let you know how I go!!! LOL
    Being focused as a writer though is a big plus, I think our drive is the only reason most of us are published to begin with, so the deadline thing is just par for course.

  4. Mel, I agree. It takes persistence (a blind stubborn streak!) to keep going and get there in the first place.

  5. I'm in the front seat on this roller coaster ride you just described, Soraya!

    ATM, I've second book syndrome (confidence low) but then I've just had my editor email me to let me know she's happy with the proposal and partial I sent her on it (confidence boost).

    Deadline is looming - I perform under the pressure but when I let them the doubts can crowd in. Got to keep a positive outlook or they'll crush my creativity.

    I'm currently reaching the top of the loop-the-loop on this roller coaster ride (aka only 20K to go) and soon I'll feel the rush of finishing another book and get that satisfied feeling of handing it in.

    Then begins the next ride as I worry about "is my editor going to like it?" LOL

    My question is - will the highs and lows get easier to manage? I suspect not! :-)

  6. Soraya, I love deadlines (generally) for writing -- it keeps me honest, not to mention focussed. But other deadlines...

    You know the ones I'm talking about -- I'll lose 5kgs by August, or I'll stop eating so much junk food starting next Monday or I'll exercise 5 times a week all throughout June. They all fizzle down the gurgler. Oh, but how I do wish those kinds of deadlines filled me with enthusiasm :-).

  7. Soraya, when I wore a scientific hat and was studying and working in the lab I used to thrive on deadlines. Get a result out by lunchtime, study for an exam, analyse statistics, set up a new tissue technique. All excellent left brain stuff, I expect.

    But I have to confess there's something about writing deadlines that I find extra challenging - the idea of creative deadlines has the neurons in my right brain quivering in their synapses!

    Good luck with your deadline!


  8. Soraya, I so agree with you. Prior to getting contracted I also longed for the day that I would have deadlines. I've just handed in revisions for book two (ahead of time cos I'm one of those people who would rather be two hours early for an appointment than one minute late :))But thankfully I have discovered I like deadlines . . . they make me work harder. Great post!

  9. Kylie, the second book terror is awful. The whole "they loved my first book but the second will never be as good/they'll wonder why the hell they signed me" nonsense. But once you've had the second one accepted, it does make you feel more like a real author. Oh, that's until you start stressing over book three though :)

    Michelle, I'm a huge chocolate eater, especially if I'm under pressure, but my baby has colic, and everyone insists that chocolate is the worst thing a breastfeeding mother can eat. So I'm dying here!

  10. Soraya, those deadlines are scary and probably the biggest wakeup call of the whole published thing. I've always been a fast writer but that was according to MY timelines, not a contract. I've got my last two books in early and yet still can't relax. But I believe that without deadlines I'd just cruise along, not making the best of theopportunites out there for me. Basically deadlines make me work harder, which isn't a bad thing.
    I'm very like Helen. I get to the airport an hour early and watch the earlier plane leave, going to the same destination as I am. I

  11. need deadlines, they keep me honest.
    Not sure what happened to the end of my last comment.

  12. Soraya

    I don't have writing deadlines but I know how it feels to have to have something done by a certain time and most of the time I handle it well but of course there are days that I just want to curl up with a book and forget what needs to be done LOL

    Have Fun

  13. Ah, the joy of deadlines! (Not.) I like to be super organised and get things in early, without any stress (I HATE being stressed), but since I'm a)a slow writer and b) a perfectionist, I always do end up taking longer to write a book than I'd like -- and then I feel the deadline looming and get stressed! Sigh.

  14. P.S. Good luck with your deadline, Soraya! (and with reintegrating chocolate into your diet!!)

  15. Soraya, I usually work well with deadlines - I'm inclined to waste time unless I have them. I was the student at university who wrote her assignments at the last minute. ;)

    With writing deadlines, I hand the book in at the very last moment. I love the theory of getting it in early, but I always wind up using the last possible second remaining to fiddle some more. I'm in awe that so many of you can send it in early!

    And Helen, I know just what you mean about some days wanting to curl up with a book instead. :)

  16. very timely, Soraya. I am on countdown to end-of-month deadline and this is the first book I haven't got in early. Which is not the same as it being late. It will simply be 'on time'.

    I'll go sit with Robbie, Michelle and Rach. I don't like having too much time, because then i start faffing around with other things, I don't like to lose momentum. I like a comfortably tight deadline.

    I do find that I focus more when on deadline but it's not always constructive. I go blank when I panic with a really short deadline. And then I procrastinate, like commenting on blogs :)

  17. Hi Soraya,

    All the best with your deadlines!

    What gorgeous covers of SOLDIER ON HER DOORSTEP!