Deadline Met!

Danny and Draft #2

Delighted to announce that Draft #2 is done! Many thanks to all the kind and lovely people who continue to support and encourage me in this endeavor. I adore you all!

February 18 was my modified deadline for Draft #2. As you may recall, my original deadline was February 1. When it became clear that wasn’t feasible, I moved it. Unlike deadlines in my day job, I didn’t have to seek permission or file a motion—I just reset it. The first date was up to me, and so was the second. I simply picked what I thought was reasonable and got back to work. (Note: in case you were wondering, it’s very freeing to be able to change a deadline without getting permission from a judge. Made me feel quite powerful.)

Some people may wonder why I bothered setting a deadline at all. Why not just write at whatever pace I chose and be done when I was done? The answer is simple: deadlines are how I work best. If I don’t have a deadline to do something, I’m likely to wait until I feel like it—which might well mean it’ll wait forever. (If you don’t believe me, check out my basement. Does it need to be cleaned? Absolutely. Am I going to work on it tomorrow? Not a chance. I could, but I know already I won’t feel like it.)

For accountability, I announced the deadline. I’d probably have met it anyway, but knowing that I told everybody about it adds a bit of pressure. Not an unwieldy level, but that quiet recognition that if I don’t meet the deadline, I’ll eventually have to admit it.

The new book has a soft deadline, which means I know basically when I want to release it (holiday season), but I have some flexibility about the precise date. This is one of the best parts about indie publishing: the publication date is entirely up to me. (Okay, me, plus my cover designer and my interior formatter. If one of them falls down on the job, my pub date may bite the dust. Then again, it turns out that this happens in traditional publishing, too. Just this week, a well-known mystery author posted that his new book’s pub date is being pushed back two weeks due to supply chain issues. So it turns out that we’re all in the same boat, more or less.)

When I started Draft #2, I had the notion that although Draft #1 had been a rocky road, I’d have a complete story when I finished Draft #2. As I worked on it this week, though, it wasn’t so much that I felt the draft would be “finished” as that it’s ready for the next part of the process. For me, that means printing out the entire book, reading it through, and making notes as I go. (This has always been my practice, but as it turns out, it’s also pretty much what Julia Cameron recommends in her latest book, Writing for Life: Creative Tools for Every Writer, which means I must be doing something right.)

One interesting point is how much material I pulled out. This book has been challenging because I’m writing about things I don’t know firsthand, such as successful relationships. As a result, I’ve done a lot more experimenting, writing a scene and ultimately moving it to the “extra language” folder which is where I put the material I’m cutting but not ready to throw away.

I’ve also developed a better sense of how story lines are fitting together. Luckily, Scrivener’s corkboard feature lets me set up a series of colored lines and assign each a particular story line, such as “Meg’s life in CT” or “Meg and Ralph” or “Pole life.” As I work with each scene, I can move it onto a particular line which, in turn, lets me see if I’m spending too much time on one story line at a time: if I have six consecutive scenes on the red “Meg’s life in CT” line, I know it’s time to consider shifting some things around to ensure the other story lines are progressing.

Right now, Draft #2 is printed and sitting in a folder. With State v. Claus, I’d let a draft sit for a month before picking it up again. On the other hand, State v. Claus didn’t have a publication calendar long after I’d finished writing since I hadn’t decided to publish independently, so it really didn’t matter how long it took me to write it. This time, with a goal of publishing in time for the holidays, I’ve had to work out a schedule to keep the process moving so I’m not panicking in late October because it turns out my cover designer left on vacation and won’t be back until mid-December.

So, here’s the next phase: I will begin my review of Draft #2 one week from today, on Saturday, February 25, 2023. Once the review is finished, Draft #3 will begin. My original plan was to have Draft #3 done in mid-March, but I’m leaning at this point toward later in the month. March 25 is sounding right, but I’m not carving it in stone yet. I need to get a sense of how much work Draft #2 will require before I can set a firm deadline–knowing, of course, that if I need to, I can modify it.

6 thoughts on “Deadline Met!

  1. Well done! I find that setting myself deadlines is an important discipline. If I meet the deadline I feel good about myself, and if I don’t I only beat myself up briefly before setting another, achievable one. It definitely helps me.

    Liked by 1 person

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