How to Meet Deadlines and Remain Sane
by Pavarti K TylerWhen I look at my looming to-do list, I often feel a sense of dread, a building terror which threatens to consume me, overwhelm my senses and send me into a weeping mess of nerves hiding in the back of my closet. You think I’m exaggerating, that I’m being overly hyperbolic. I’m not. The giant dog has often nosed open the closet door and tilted his head in confusion over what in the world I’m doing. Silly people. Thumbs make you all weird.
But in trying to return the closet space to my husband’s shoes, I have taken to trying to balance this whole work/life/writing/marketing/kids balance thing. And I’ve found that one thing above all else helps me maintain my cool.
Setting reasonable expectations is the name of the game. I cannot reasonably be asked to perform cardiac surgery anymore than I can be reasonably asked to crank out a perfectly edited and formatted 100,000 word novel in one month. It is simply not going to happen. I’m not that person.
Yes, there are people who can do it. Perhaps if I really buckled down I could too. But then, all the other things in my balance matrix would be sacrificed and that’s not conducive to a happy closet-free Pav.
This is important in all aspects of the editing process. How long will your BETA readers take, how long will a content edit and subsequent line edit take. Do you want ARCs available in advance of publishing?
Personally, I don’t do well with tight deadlines. That pesky panic disorder makes me overly neurotic about making sure everything is done at exactly the right time and in exactly the right order. Just ask my publisher, it’s my first book with Evolved and I’m already making them loony with my constant requests that things be done early. Why early?
Build in a Buffer
You will have setbacks. You will find that during the editing process you completely forgot to wrap up that tertiary subplot you wove in. Crap! Now you have to edit chapters and write a few extra to slip in. That times time. This will happen. And when it does you have the choice to either delay your release (Ack!) or do a rush (read crappy) job.
However, if you’ve built in a buffer, when your crit partner bails on you half way through your MS and you have to find another or your editor takes an extra month to finish your book despite the deadline you agreed on, you still have time. Life happens and even the best people sometimes flake. If you assume it will happen you will remain calmer.
Sounds pessimistic doesn’t it. But that’s not how I mean it. What I mean is, by setting reasonable expectations and then building in some buffer time, you are poised for stress free success. But start making promises you can’t fulfill even if all the stars aligned and you will be the one perceived as the flake.
If everything goes well and I write everyday and meet my word counts, a 60-80k book will take me 6-8 months. So I give myself a year. Granted, during that time, I’m usually editing, proofing and sometimes even writing other projects, so that’s not to say I take a year and do nothing but that one thing. But it means I’m not going to commit to anything being done before then. After that I like a month for BETA readers/crit partners and self editing, then another 2 months for the editor to work their magic. Once the final edit is done, I like ARCs ready to go 2 months before the release date. Add a month for inevitable shenanigans and I plot out 18 months for a book to launch.
Can it be done faster? Sure. White Chalk was written by 6 months. When it launches it will be less than a year from when I started it. Awesome huh? The crowd roars and I take my bow. I’m thrilled to have it out like this, but if it took longer that would have been okay. Having it out quickly is nothing but a success.
So what’s my advice for staying sane with deadlines? Plan for them with an outlined timetable, set them reasonably, and build in a buffer. I just recently turned in my final draft of Sugar and Salt, an upcoming erotic novella to my editor. It comes out in December.
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Genre – Literary Fiction/Coming of Age
Rating – R (15+)