Writing on a Deadline

Yep, you guessed it. While I’m writing this, I am on a deadline of epic proportions. The second book in my series from St. Martin’s Press, EXPOSED, is due in eleven days (not that I’m counting or anything). And, I’ll be honest, it’s freaking me out a little bit.

It’s a lot of pressure to be under, knowing you have to perform such a fickle task by a certain date, when all writers know sometimes the creative brain just doesn’t work that way.

I’ll also be honest and say this is when I perform the best.

I don’t know why it is that I can produce faster, better results when I have this looming date in front of me, but history doesn’t lie. I thrive on knowing I have to get something done by a certain time, that I have someone (or someones) waiting for me to finish my project. It holds me accountable in a way I’ve never been to replicate in any other way.

One thing, though, that I’ve found while being on deadline is that not everyone gets it. A lot of people assume a deadline for a book is just like any other deadline you might have in any number of jobs. And while, to some extent, that’s true, in most other jobs, you have a tangible duty to complete. Get this project done by this date. Redecorate this room by such and such. Sew this dress by next week. But in writing? How can you magically make ideas come when you need them? Sometimes they’re there and sometimes they’re not. And there’s not a whole lot you can do to coax something that doesn’t want to be there into showing itself.

But the one thing I’ve learned (through many drafts and many, many, many talks from other authors) is that you just need to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, in my instance) and write something. Anything. Because at the end of the day, you can fix anything, make anything shinier, sparklier, prettier. Anything except a blank page.

So that’s what I’m doing now, while I’m counting down the days hours until my deadline. I’m writing whatever comes to mind, knowing I can always fix it, if need be.

How do you function while on a deadline? Does it help or hinder you? And if you do better on a deadline, how do you push through those days where you just stare blankly at that blinking cursor?

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