Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's the deadlines, people!

There's an aspect of being a writer -- or anybody with long-term deadlines -- that some people who don't have that sort of job requirement don't quite understand, which leads to frustration for those of us who do. That's the need for long-range planning.

For instance, there's going to be a wedding in our family. The aunts (of which I am one) are having a shower. The wedding isn't until October, but I wanted to have the date for the shower set ASAP once the date of the wedding was set. I could tell that other members of the family were a bit baffled by this. What was the big rush?

Here's the thing: I have deadlines in June and December. I already have some commitments for the month before the wedding (September), so if I'm going to have another one, I'd like to know as soon as possible so I can plan my writing schedule accordingly -- as much as possible anyway, because life has a way of throwing unexpected hurdles in your path despite best-laid plans.

Now that I have the date of the shower, I realize that I'm going to have to take two weeks off from writing in September for that, and another obligation. That means I can't take off as much time off in the summer as I would have otherwise. It also means I'm going to (gently) suggest to Esteemed Editor that the sooner I can get to the revisions (if there are any) of the book that's due June 1, the better . This may not be possible, but at least I'm aware I should ask. That also means I absolutely, positively can't be late with the June book.

That meant I couldn't take as much time off in January to recoup from a hectic Christmas as I'd originally planned. I'm now just over 100 pages into the first draft, when I'd originally planned to have, well, none.

Long-range goals require long-range planning. This is why I also tend to get upset and stressed if somebody abruptly changes a date or schedule. They may be thinking, "Well, gee, it's a month's notice. What's the big deal?"

The big deal is, my writing schedule is now shot to hell. I may have to write faster, or take a break at a less suitable time -- say, in the middle of the first draft, or when I should be deep in revisions. This is distressing and stressful, and this job can be plenty stressful enough without having your writing schedule blown to smitherines. Sometimes, that happens regardless, but when people respond as if you're either completely anal retentive or slightly batty because you need to have things scheduled sooner rather than later?

Like I said, it's frustrating.


Kimber Chin said...

Most people don't plan past the next paycheck (if that long).

And since in project management, I end up dealing with most people, I assume that events longer out than that will move.

I try to build buffer in my timelines. Often that means I'll hurry up and wait (work like a demon at the beginning and finish before schedule if nothing goes wrong).

I don't know if that's possible with writing. It doesn't really look that way with the editing (that seems to always be rush, rush or maybe it is just my editor).

Margaret Moore said...

Project management -- it sounds like constant group work, which...AHHHHHH!!!!!! Being a "keener," I hated that in school. There's a reason I'm self-employed. :-)