Camy here, and I just finished a deadline on February 15th. It was for revisions for my October book, Protection for Hire. (For those of you who watch the TV show Human Target, yes the similarities to the opening credits is deliberate. I love Human Target! Action and humor. My kinda show. :)
Anyway, in finishing my revisions, I realized how much more efficiently I work when under deadline. Somehow my focus becomes narrower, my brain starts firing faster, and I work harder and more efficiently.
I was like this when I was working in biotech research, too. Deadlines helped me plan experiments better, and work efficiently and accurately.
I’m serious. All the sticky problems I’d been mulling over for a few days suddenly became clearer and solved in a few minutes the day before the revisions were due. I ended up trashing what I’d written earlier and writing stuff that was ten times better. I was able to make firm decisions about what I needed to cut and what I needed to flesh out.
How do you work under deadlines? Some people are NOT good with deadlines. Other people are like me and thrive under them.
I know that not all of you have an editor who will chew you out if you don’t turn in your manuscript on time. But if you’re like me and work better under a deadline—or if you don’t know if you work better or worse under a deadline—here’s an idea for you: How about setting a hard deadline for yourself to see if it helps you?
The consequences have to be as momentous as pissing off your editor. The person who saw your jewel of a manuscript and fought for you in pub board and believes in you and who tells accounting to cut you a check. You wouldn’t want to piss her off, right?
So your deadline has to be as momentous as that. I can’t involve your mother, spouse, or any soft-hearted friends who will forgive you. And it helps if it involves cold, hard, cash, although that’s not very effective if it’s your spouse and not you who’s bringing in income. It has to involve a very personal, painful sacrifice on your part if you don’t make your deadline.
Randy Ingermanson had a deal with John Olson—in order to improve his productivity, Randy told John he’d pay him ten bucks for every minute he was late getting to his computer in the morning (I think that was it. Regardless, it involved money exchanging hands, and it wasn’t a slap on the wrist, it was a painfully expensive consequence). He set a time, and John kept him accountable, and if Randy was late, John got paid. After Randy paid John a time or two, he started being better about getting to work by a certain time.
Your deadline has to be just as painful. Like if you don’t make your deadline, you have to do babysitting duty every weekend for two months for all your husband’s friends, so they could go out and do what they wanted.
Be creative. But be painful. Then make your deadline and try to hit it. See if making yourself a deadline helps you to write better—or worse.
I will be the first person to say that some people DON’T work better under a deadline. I happen to turn into SUPERWOMAN when under a deadline and I fully believe in the power of stress. :)
How about you?
GIVEAWAY: Thanks to Tina for this idea. I’m giving away a free 30-minute telephone mentoring session. To enter, answer this question: Do you write better or worse under deadline? Do you know? Also please leave your email address or some way for me to contact you, otherwise I’ll pull another name.
Winner will be announced in the Weekend Edition.
Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her romantic suspense, Formula for Danger. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.