Juggling Deadlines For All Things Writerly

This post is also known as: Why Brighton Is Running Around Like A Crazy Person This Month.

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Deadlines. Everyone has them. In any job, you’re going to have deadlines of some sort. I’ve had them plenty before I started on this writing career. But there is something so different about the kind of deadlines we, as writers, get. Maybe it’s the pressure?Maybe it’s the overwhelming nature of the project(s) on deadline? Maybe it’s because we thrive on crazy, so we let ourselves get wrapped up in that date looming on the calendar? My money is on all three.

I’ll be honest—even though I panic when I’m on a deadline and I flail about a lot, the truth is deadlines help me focus and make me get what I need done, done. If past performance is anything to go by, I produce quicker, better results when I’m on a deadline. When I don’t have a looming one? I basically screw around until it becomes looming, then start getting to work.

Last year, when I signed two different contracts with two publishers for a total of four books, I thought it was no big deal. I didn’t think I was overextending myself at all. I talked it over with my agent, and after looking at the calendar, decided it was doable. And then I got a lot of responses. You know, the wow that’s awesome but oh holy crap how can you pull that off??? responses. And I started second guessing myself. Can I do it? And would I still have my sanity in tact at the end of it?

As I am in the trenches writing my fourth and final book under those contracts from last year, I can tell you I’m still here. I’ve done it (so far), and I (pretty much) have my sanity.

But.

It has not been easy. This was illustrated perfectly to me a few days ago when someone outside the writing industry asked how my books were going and what I was currently working on. My response was a cluster of nonsense. It went something like, “Well, book one in my first series comes out in a month, so I’m working on promo blog posts for that. I just handed in copyedits for book one for my other series that comes out in March. And I just saw the cover from book two in my first series—you know, the one that comes out next month? Oh, and I’m writing book two in my second series. No, not the one that comes out in November, the other one…” And, yes, all of that happened just last week.

One thing I didn’t count on in publishing was how you have to juggle so many different projects. When the time comes for you to start promoting that book that’s coming out? You’ve probably written at least one other book during that time. I’m on my third. It’s so hard to keep everything straight and switch back and forth from project to project without going crazy. And, oh yeah, you still need to remember stuff about that book you wrote so long ago…

So what’s the take-away from this post? Have I got it all figured out on how to manage these tasks and deadlines? That’d be a big, fat nope. My house is a disaster area, my kids get cereal a lot, and my husband knows not to come near me when I have that crazed look in my eyes while at the computer.

Have you figured out how to manage all the different deadlines? I’m a Type A girl, so I’d love it if someone came on here with a life-changing spreadsheet to share. I mean, I’d even give you chocolate.


Comments

Juggling Deadlines For All Things Writerly — 10 Comments

  1. I promised you my spreadsheets, didn’t I? Hmm. I’ve added that to my To Do List. :-) But yes – totally agree that the juggling is one of those things “they” don’t tell you. As for book deadlines, I think they’re intrinsically difficult because we’re trying to relegate something that is inherently not controllable (creativity) into a schedule. It’s not impossible, but it’s also a bit like making pie crust – part skill, part good recipe and more than a dollop of hope and black magic.

    • I don’t know if you promised me them, but I would LOVE them!! November is my get organized month since I’m off deadline then with nothing looming. And yes, you are so right. It’s easy to say, just sit down and write, but in practice, that’s not always possible.

  2. Oh man, I’m just starting on this crazy train, and your story is not making me feel any better about it! I’m so excited for all the things you have in the pipeline, and so impressed that you’re still kind of sort of still sane :)

  3. More power to you, because I can’t do the whole deadline thing. I don’t mind the “here are you edits, get them back to me in four days” type deadline but the “you have to have three books to me in the next year” damned near killed me. I discovered that last year — between being part of a sandwich generation with a blind/stroke victim mother, and discovering that deadlines absolutely kill my creativity, and physically wrecked me where I ended up in physiotherapy for a damaged rotator cuff from sitting at my computer for far too long. I’m never doing the deadline thing again. Books will be written and then subbed or self-pubbed on my own timeline from here on in. And that’s not even talking about all the promo crap that we’re required to do.

    But yeah, more power to those who can do it.

  4. Brighton I laughed so hard at your opening line. And this: “I produce quicker, better results when I’m on a deadline. When I don’t have a looming one? I basically screw around until it becomes looming, then start getting to work.”

    Yep, that’s totally me. I do much better when I have a deadline and some sort of accountability to someone other than myself.

    I’m super-impressed with you juggling all those deadlines. Way to go. You’re almost there!

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