(But only for a little while)
You heard it folks! The title says it all! For the next few weeks, I am stepping back from freelance writing! No more clients, no more money on the side, no fast turn-arounds.Why? There’s a simple explanation…
I gave my upcoming novel a deadline!
…And do I regret it?
Join me today, as for the first time in these weekly blogs, we talk about creative writing!
Why Having Deadlines is Important in Creative Writing.
Deadlines give structure. It’s true! In fact, my entire novel started with a huge deadline (Those of you who have read my NaNoWriMo Series know what’s up). My baby — yep, that’s what I’m calling my novel — started as a challenge in 2019. The challenge? Write 50,000 words in one month. That’s 1,667 words a day for an entire month! One of the most difficult things I ever did, but I did it! How? It’s quite simple: I knew where my novel needed to be by the end of the month. I had a goal to work toward and that got me into a routine. I wrote in the car, on the bus, at work…
The result? Terrible.
I’m not kidding!
Have you ever heard of the phrase word vomit? It’s when you spit out text without stopping, without editing, moving as fast as possible. That’s what NaNoWriMo was for me. The 50,000 words I had written were hard to read, without structure and a cause of carpal tunnel in my fingers. Yet, I had a story and once the challenge had finished, the crafting process could begin.
So here we are now, almost a year later. How does my novel look today? It looks good! It’s not perfect, but it’s not trying to be. In fact, rather than making draft #2 shine, I’m focusing on collating my ideas so that my story flows. I want my readers to have a clear-defined beginning, middle and end. I want them to be able to join my characters on their journey without plot-holes or discrepancies. Something my NaNoWriMo draft (or draft #1) was filled with. I’ve got around five more chapters to go through, but I’ve slotted my baby in with a consultant on August 31st 2020. A second deadline.
Once again, I have a month. This time, not to write 50,000 words, but to finish my story. In doing this, I’ve put a bit of pressure on myself – the part I regret. Yet, when I achieve that goal on August 31st, can you imagine how proud I’ll be? It’ll be a really good feeling!
…But it’s Important Not to Rush.
When you have a deadline, it can be easy to rush. Don’t do it. These deadlines aren’t strict ones. It’s not like missing a coursework deadline and failing a class. It’s not like missing a freelance deadline and losing a customer. If I didn’t make my NaNoWriMo deadline last year, sure, I’d be one certificate less but I’d still have more words on paper than I did when I started. If I don’t provide the finished manuscript to my consultant on August 31st. Sure, I’d disappoint myself, but it’s not like my novel would fall into a volcano and cease to exist. By rushing, you’ll make a mess. I know this contradicts my word vomit paragraph, but that was different. I knew what I was writing then was bad. I planned to organise it. Yet, I don’t want to rush now and send a mess to my consultant, because it’s that my consultant will work with.
It’s okay to feel a little bit of pressure, but don’t let that pressure drive you.
The main reasons you have deadlines are for yourself. If you rush to make your deadline, you won’t feel as good as you did if you reached it with structure and discipline.
And that’s all there is to say on that!
By stepping back in freelancing, I am allowing more opportunity to work on my novel and thus, mitigating the chances of rushing to meet my deadline. I’m making sacrifices, yet I’m lucky. I’m lucky it’s the only sacrifice I have to make.
Some people with more responsibility have a tough time of it.
In fact, I am going to recommend a video game! A small, indie game developed by Orthogonal Games back in 2013 called The Novelist. It’s only about two hours long, but if you have time, give it a go! It’s all about the pressures involved in writing and maintaining loved ones, whilst getting work to your agent on time. It’s quite an eye-opening experience, showing the difficulties of being a writer.
Writing a novel isn’t easy.
I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again.It’s easy to glorify it, to think you’ll sit down and tell a story in a few months. Yet, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I’m sure other writers can relate. For the longest time, the end wasn’t in sight. That can be demotivational.
Think of it as an investment.
Chip away at your novel, give yourself milestones on the way and like a film you’re anticipating, or a holiday you’re looking forward to, you’ll get there.
Don’t rush and by the end, you’ll have something beautiful.
…And that’s all we have time for today folks! Join me again next week for another weekly update! Remember, to comment about your own experiences with making deadlines, to like this post and subscribe via email!
Until then — take care!