Writing books is a performance business. At the end of the day, week or whatever time period applies, an author produces something on a schedule.
I know many people write without any firm deadline as they are just starting out writing for illumination and enjoyment, but honestly, I can’t imagine working without a deadline and not self-imposing one. I’ll intentionally place myself in a position where I need to get something done by a certain date. Frankly, I don’t trust myself enough to do otherwise.
When in college, I voluntarily committed to something which required I complete a certain task every day by a certain time, with no excuses. It related to something I hoped would be a career path, but the self-discipline proved to be very helpful and instructive long term.
The successful author-life is equal parts creativity and discipline, make-believe and real-life, story-telling and deadline-meeting.
An aspiring author must come to grips with the fact this profession has a bottom line to it. The bottom line is this: Get things done well, by the agreed deadline, even if the deadline is self-imposed or inconvenient.
Everything else about being an author can orbit around this fact, distracting the author with shiny objects and funny videos, but in the end, you need to get something written by the deadline and by the way, it should be done well.
There are some authors who have ruined any chance at a sustainable or successful career by their inability to hit a deadline, or they didn’t manage their time well enough and turned in a manuscript on time, but poorly written.
Health, personal issues, creative issues, relationships, computer problems, good reasons or just excuses, they couldn’t get the job done on time while maintaining the necessary quality.
Writing is a performance business and they didn’t show up or didn’t perform well.
And like anything within the competitive performance world, once someone fails to meet expectations, someone else is right behind to take their place.
Very few authors can survive a sustained lack of quality and deadline-meeting.
In the Gospel of Luke, the fourteenth chapter, Jesus tells a couple parables and then sums them with a “count the cost” statement which could be taken any number of ways, I suppose, but relates to a person living life as a believer. Have no illusions, there is a cost.
Any author, including Christian authors need to do something similar and count the cost of being a writer.
If the spectrum of the author-life is at one extreme a calm, creative life of drinking tea, sitting in a comfy chair with a laptop, staring at clouds and musing about life all day, the opposite extreme would be a pressure packed stadium of fans yelling for a certain athlete to “run faster” or “play harder.”
The successful author life resides somewhere between the two. While still a solitary endeavor, the pressure to perform from editors, agents and readers can be too much for some to withstand.
“We want you to write something great by next Tuesday at 4pm. Write faster! Work harder!”
Authors need to do the work, hit the deadlines, do the platform stuff, make the contacts with the right people, maintain relationships with others and keep your creative “edge,” while also doing everything else in their life.
Every once in a while, one of the agents for this agency will blog about something similar to this. Our goal is not to discourage anyone, but just the opposite, to encourage those who have the desire to be an author with a vision of what the future might bring. Successful authors already counted the cost and decided it was worth it.
You still want to write books? Count the cost. Do the work well by the deadline.
It’s the bottom line.