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Writing on a deadline

March 2, 2012

Well I finally finished that steampunk story I’d been working on and sent it to the editor.  Why did it take so long?  Maybe because I’d never written steampunk before.  Maybe because there was a flaw in the story line (which has now been fixed).  Or maybe that’s just how I handle deadlines.  I sent the story on the day I was told it was needed.  I really couldn’t have sent it any earlier because the ink on the first draft was still wet (metaphorically speaking).  I did an oral read-though to catch technical issues, fixed a few bugs along the way, and sent it off.

Don’t get me wrong, this was as polished a story as I send out to any other market.  When it’s finished, you send it.  But why so close to the foul line?

At least I’ve now written on a deadline that wasn’t self-imposed, so I can do it.  That’s something.  And now I’m on another deadline, this one a space sci-fi story due at the end of this month.  I’ve been itching to write this one, probably because I needed to be working on the steampunk story so of course this one wouldn’t stay out of my head.  I’ve started it, getting a good 900+ words today, plus a full outline.  (You wrote an outline?)  Yes, I did.  Thank you, Scrivener!  I’m hoping to have this one done early, say this time next week.  It’s a shorter story, so it could happen.

I should mention that I violated one of the guidelines for accomplishing a deadline write.  “They” say you should write forward, push the story ahead so you have a story to edit later.  I tried and completely stalled out on it.  I had to go back to the beginning and read what I had to figure out why things weren’t working.  As it turned out, I forgot some key details and had to change a few others that weren’t working.  If the problem with a story is continuity-related, sometimes backtracking is useful for getting the story moving ahead again. 

History in other life roles suggests I can work well on a deadline, but right now my school schedule is a bit too confining to make that a regular reality for my writing.  But that doesn’t mean I’ll be turning down invitations with deadlines attached.  Keep ’em coming, editors!



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