Deadlines

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After my 50th birthday celebration and awaiting the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday, it’s been hard to write. Excuses, excuses; don’t I know it. As you, my constant reader, have followed me on my writing journey, you’ve witnessed how I’ve struggled to maintain a writing habit. For the most part, I have been successful. Although I don’t write every day, I do at least something like characterizing, outlining, revision, etc., for my writing at 5 days out of 7 a week, sometimes more. Based on where I started, this is a huge turnaround for me.

But as positive as that is, the process is slow going. As of this posting, I am 25,000 words into my 90,000 word manuscript. Each day I add to it is the furthest that I have ever gone on a single project. This is great and I’m proud of myself, but I’m moving too slow I think. There are days I can binge write and churn out 1000 words. Some days, though, I log only 100-200 words. Other days I’m just under 500. While others I can’t write at all. Time has come for me to turbocharge my writing habit! In order to do that, I must give myself a deadline.

Most people hate deadlines. They have a tendency to put undo pressure on people, causing them to rush the quality of a project. Some people feel anxiety when faced with a deadline. Deadlines can be too rigid which prevents working minds from being open to surprises. But some folks thrive with deadlines. They can help tackle procrastination, force you to set and focus on goals, or strengthen your resolve with future projects when you’ve stuck to a deadline.

This is why I have decided to give myself a deadline. As you may remember from past posts, how I pitched three literary agents who want to read my manuscript. The literary industry usually will not provide deadlines because one: agents read so many manuscripts and don’t have the time to jump right to yours, and two: agents want to give a writer all the time in the world to submit a well-polished manuscript. But you don’t want to take forever to submit a manuscript. You want that manuscript in their hands in a timely fashion even thought there is no timeline, which there generally isn’t. I want to build up my speed so I can get manuscripts into the hands of agents in a timely fashion on a regular basis.

Now what kind of deadline have I given myself? Let’s take a look at the numbers. I have 65,000 words left in my manuscript. In keeping with my 500 words a day, this should take 130 days to complete a first draft. 130 days shakes out to about 4.5 months. Since I’m feeling really generous, lets call it 5 months. From the time of this posting, that brings us to April as the month I will try to finish the first draft of my Afro-fantasy manuscript. It’s a tall order, but I will try my damnedest to accomplish it.

Words have power. My declaration has been put into words and sent out into the universe. The dream has been given life. It is now a real concrete goal. Doing this is an act of courage for me. Hopefully, I’m able to rise to this challenge.

What if I don’t complete the manuscript in 5 months? Then I will pick myself up, dust myself off and set a new deadline. What I won’t do is beat myself up for not reaching this goal. That serves nothing but to set me back and break me down mentally. I don’t need that headache. This is a learning experience that I hope will build up my writing muscles, preparing me for the next project and the one after that and the one after that.

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Milestone

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On this writer’s journey of mine, I have set many goals for myself. One was to write for 21 days in a row in order to make that happen. Another was to finish a piece of prose that was longer than 15 pages long. I had never written prose that was over 15 pages (typed, double spaced). Years ago, I wrote a 30 page sci-fi action screenplay. That was the longest thing I’d ever written, but as far as prose went, I’d never come close to that. But now I have exceeded that in spades.

Back in January, you loyal readers may remember, I completed the first draft of a sci-fi action novella that is now in revision. I say ‘completed’ because I’d never gotten past the first draft phase before for something so long. Currently, the story tops out at 21,517 words. That comes out to about 71 pages! It was the most I’ve ever written. I started it in August of 2016 while staying at an ashram in upstate New York. I’m quite proud of not just what I wrote but reaching the milestone of finishing a first draft of a longer form piece.

Now we come to today. As some of you may already know, I am in the process of writing a 90,000 word Afro-Fantasy novel. Three potential agents were promised 90,000 words and that’s what I’m going to give them. With the full intention of keeping this promise, I can only hope that they find the vast majority of those 90,000 words of great quality. One great thing about undertaking the task, is that I have reached a milestone by breaking the 22,000 word mark. This is truly a momentous occasion that fills me with a small measure of pride. But I must remember that this is just one step in my Writer’s Life. For one, are they quality 22,000 words? That remains to be seen. And second, I still have 68,000 words to go! Can’t forget that little tidbit, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

I considered doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I needed to start this Sword and Soul novel back in late June for pitching purposes. Also, I know it’s probably and excuse, but I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to NaNoWriMo. Hopefully, I will next year. No promises on that yet. Let’s see if I can now make it to 50,000 words, the minimum for NaNoWriMo, to determine if I have what it takes to do it next year.

In the meantime, I will briefly celebrate my 22,000 word achievement by outlining some more and try to write 500 words today. Remember, when it comes to writing, Work is its own reward.