Writing to Deadlines
edited: Wednesday, April 29, 2009
By Meg Leigh
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009
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How to break your word count down to manageable chunks in order to meet a deadline.
Writing to deadline was the scariest thing I ever did. The first time I decided to offer a story that was due in by a certain date, I thought for sure I was going to screw up and miss the date by miles. Of course, the more I worried about missing my deadline the less able to write I became until I was so paralyzed by the fear of missing it, that I almost did!
I didn't write anything to a deadline after that, for almost a year. Then I decided that was silly, because all I was doing by refusing to commit to deadlines was reducing my opportunities to be published, so I decided that I would ease myself back into it, by taking part in a writing exercise called AugNoWriMo.
Anyone who has been reading me for any length of time knows that I have 'done' AugNoWriMo now two years running, and both times resulted in completed books which then went on to be published.
AugNoWriMo stands for August Novel Writing Month. Basically, what you have to do is set yourself a word target and write every day throughout the month of August and try to finish the month at the target wordcount you set at the beginning. The last two years that I have done it, I managed to write 20,000 words in 31 days.
This taught me a very organized approach to deadlines and it is one that will work no matter what word length or what amount of time you have to complete it in.
Basically you need to work out how many words you have to write every day, in order to reach your word length in the allotted time.
EG: 20,000 words in 31 days: 20,000/31= 650(rounded up from the actual answer which has a bunch of numbers after the decimal point)
Then you turn up at your computer or get out your notepad and pen every day and write 650 words and don't, under any circumstances, read back over what you've written until it is done!
Okay, so that will give you your word count in the required time, but don't forget you also have to allow time for yourself to edit and proofread what you wrote before you send it in to a publisher.
Nowadays, publishers are very picky about typos and bad grammar in writing. They don't have the time, money, or human resources to spend a lot of time polishing up a work that has too many flaws to begin with.
So allow yourself an extra week. That way you'd be finished writing a week ahead of deadline, and have time to look over the work and get it corrected to the best of your ability.
So that's how I took the fear out of deadlines for myself. If you're a little nervous about writing something for a publisher's deadline, try doing a WriMo to get some practice first. They're a ton of fun, and you'll meet some great people; and who knows, you might just wind up with a saleable product at the end!