Wednesday 29 April 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 16: “Deadlines”

2015 WORD COUNT = 22146 words

The gears turn, the arm moves, the clock ticks, and another minute of our time goes by.

I always feel like I’m busy. I get up and get my son ready for the childminders before heading off to work. Once home its son to bed, chores, dinner, something good on television (nearly finished Daredevil season 1) or maybe a little play time on the Xbox (loving Assassins Creed IV at the moment).

And I also like to write.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t plan my time perfectly. It vexes me that my brain is over productive while I’m busy and I find ideas hitting me left, right, and centre with no way to jot anything down. Then I get home and stare at a blank Word doc while I’m dodging tumbleweeds.

I use some of my annual leave throughout the year to have writing days. I love these. Say goodbye to wife and son for the day, get breakfast and then get stuck in. Maybe a movie around lunch time before diving straight back to the story. I was most productive during both last year NaNo projects on days off.

But, for the rest of the time, I find my writing mood fleeting.

Thank God for deadlines.

Nothing gets my creative juices pumping like a good deadline. I used to pop in and out of the writing mood but I changed my habits a little when I started to write this blog. No matter what else was going on, no matter what I was working on, I had a post to put up on a Wednesday evening come hell or high water.

And so far (touch wood) I’ve done it. Sixty Five posts with no breaks.

This year I took it to the next level. Inspired by Betsy Streeter (check out this fantastic interview with her here) I decided to post a story in instalments. So far it’s going well but I will let you in on a little secret.

I am working off the first draft I wrote last November. Each few weeks I take a chunk of the story and see how the flow can be divided up into episodes. Sometimes I need to add stuff to a scene while other times (like episodes 2 and 3) I have to write from scratch because I realised something was missing from the original draft.

But, even though I have a 50,000+ word draft and even though I have more detailed plans going up to episode 14, I don’t seem to be able to knuckle down and get it written. I’d like to have ‘banked’ episodes so that I can work further down the line. I’d honestly like to release them weekly. But for some reason I don’t. Even now, with episode 7 due in 48 hours, I still don’t have a version I’d like to hand over to my two editors.

It was the same in school. It didn’t matter if it was just a weekend or the summer holidays; that homework got done on the Sunday before I went back to school.

I know I’ll get it done. I have for the last six episodes, after all. But I just wish I was better. I started this whole thing last year because I wanted to write regularly and get my work out there. Well, mission accomplished. Now I think it’s time to turn up the gas and produce more. I need to have that stuff in reserve. It’s not about multiple projects; it’s about being ahead of myself and not leaving things to the last minute.

The one plus to the deadlines is that I find I’m most creative under that pressure. Take the upcoming FlashDogs Anthology 2, for example. Once the prompt photos were handed pout I spent the first two weeks with diddly squat. And then, when ideas did come they were, in my honest opinion, crap. Ten years ago I would have been happy with them. Hell, maybe even this time last year. But I can do better now, I’ve proved it.

I panicked a little, sure. But the closer I got to the dead line (less than four weeks now including final edits) the better it got. Old ideas fell away. Something new burned inside my imagination. I’m hoping to get two drafts sent for proofing this weekend while I work on another two.

I have butterflies, my nerves are jangling, as I get closer to the end of May. But there’s something else there, something like inspiration. The pressure is helping.

How about you guys? Do you grab an idea and let it flow onto the page in its own time? Or, like me, do you need that date marked on a calendar to light a fire under you but. And for you readers out there, how often do you want stories fed to you? Do plots fade away if the intermissions are too long? Do you like to binge and plough through story after story?

Feel free to let me know in the comments or on twitter. I’m off now to get stuck into episode 7 of FRACTURED DAWN (48 hours and counting).

See you in seven.

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