Last week I wrote about a process on how to manage deadlines. Despite our best efforts, events may put us awry. To avoid this, eliminate overconfidence.
When you see a contract and the advance – one you may desperately need, you may be tempted to say, “You know what? I really don’t need to go to the beach this year. I’ll write all summer instead.” Or, “Sure, I can write 3,000 words a day, seven days a week. I’m up for it.”
If you find yourself talking yourself into an unrealistic writing schedule, stop. Talk to your agent or another trusted person and be sure you can comfortably meet your deadlines before making too many promises.
Even if you’ve been able to meet a ridiculous schedule in the past, can you keep this up? Have you accounted for the unexpected time gobbler – usually illness or surgery for yourself or a family member – that can happen to us all? Or what if your family insists that even if you don’t want to take a beach vacation this year, they do. Do you want to sit in the hotel room typing away while they swim and sun?
If you’ve been swamped unexpectedly and are racing to meet a deadline, sometimes revisions are neglected. Do you really want to be the author whose editor says, “Wow? Did this author give me a rough draft?” The less heavy lifting an editor has to do, the better for your career. That’s not to say that awesome, experienced authors aren’t ever heavily edited. But I remember my own first error-filled drafts in all their glory. Don’t shame yourself by turning in an early draft. You must turn in quality work each time, at every stage of your career. Allow yourself time to revise.
What to do
If you are looking at a new contract and don’t think you can meet all the proposed deadlines, ask your agent how much the new deadline can be extended. Most of the time, editors can accommodate. But if the deadline cannot be extended so you can meet your existing deadlines, you may have to walk away from the contract. As terrible as this seems, it’s much less terrible than causing a major problem for yourself, your agent, your editor, and the publisher. And if you do walk away, be grateful you have such a happy problem!
How do you cope when you have too many deadlines?
How do you avoid getting into a big crunch?
What additional tips can you offer us?