Monday, September 01, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - 35 Days

Sometimes I get asked why I don't give out a lot of writing advice like many other seasoned (and not-so-seasoned) writers. The thing is, I do, especially when asked privately or when speaking to writers' groups. I just don't make a big habit of offering it up in my blog, and most of what fledgling writers need to know about character development and plot has already been said by others.

But what does it feel like to be staring down the barrel of a book deadline? Something I do a couple times a year.

Writing on deadline is like trying to be witty and articulate at gunpoint, while trying not to pee your pants.
That's what it feels like.

So I've decided to chronicle the ups and downs of the next 35days while I complete my 10th Odelia Grey novel that has a working title of JUNK IN THE TRUNK. It will be the 20th novel I have written and doesn't take into account the short stories I have also penned. Twenty novels, almost all of them written in the past 10-12 years while holding down a full-time day job.

I hope that Diary of a Deadline will give readers a taste of what it is like if you want to be a prolific writer and don't have the people or the cash to hire others to help you with the day to day stuff of life while you're trying to be creative on demand.

I've never been good at keeping a diary or journal, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

35 Days To Go 

It's the Monday of Labor Day Weekend and I don't have to work at the law firm. I have a load of laundry in the washer. Another load is waiting to go in and I'm writing between cycles. Where did this 3-day long weekend go? I wrote most of it, even cancelling out of a party on Sunday because I was in THE ZONE, and, trust me, you don't mess with THE ZONE.

Cats are fed. Cat box cleaned. Shit, I haven't even had my coffee yet. It's only 8:21 am and I feel like I've been up for hours.

The rest of my day went pretty much the same. I would write. Do a chore. Write. Do another small chore. But it wasn't all writing and chores. I read for about an hour and watched a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad, Season 1, while eating an early supper. I've never seen this show before and found it amazing. If I didn't have a book on deadline, I would have sat on the sofa and done a marathon.  Because I got so much writing done, later I watched American Ninja Warrior without a bit of guilt. I had enough food in the fridge to eat leftovers instead of cooking.

And how did the writing go?

I managed to get just shy of 6,000 words on the page today and I'm pleased with almost all of it. The book is just about half done at this stage.

I must confess, I am a fast writer, and I write better under pressure. I try not to over think words and sentences. I knew exactly what today's focus was going to be in the book, even though I don't outline. I saw it in my head and transcribed it to the page as it played out in my brain. This doesn't mean I don't go back and edit, I do. But I tend to do rolling edits.  That's when a writer writes several pages or chapters then goes back to edit that work before continuing.  Before I settled in to watch ANW, I went back and did a quick edit of the pages I wrote earlier today.

Tomorrow I move into a new phase of the book.

Writers today do not have this luxury.


Diane Vallere said...

The idea of a diary of writing under pressure of deadline is genius! Good luck!

BKF Price said...

I believe it was Peter O'Toole in 'My Favorite Year' who said: Dying is easy, comedy is hard." People don't appreciate how hard it is to be genuinely funny on a good day, let alone with a deadline staring you in the face! But I have faith that you'll be making us all laugh once this book is out. And you'll make it look so easy.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks, folks. Diane, I posted about this on the SinC/LA group. I hope folks drop in.

Christopher J. Lynch said...

Thanks for the post Sue-Ann. Although I don't write under a publishers deadline, I still have my own self-imposed ones. I found it interesting that you and I share the same writing style; very little if any outlining and rolling revisions. Cool. keep up the good work. Chris

Anna Loan-Wilsey said...

Saw this on SinC listserv. Great idea and great advice. I have more than 33 days until my mystery novel's due but with a 5 year old and a lousy 2nd draft, I'll be applying your tips now! Hopefully then I'll actually get it in on time.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks, Chris and Anna, for commenting. Mush!