Yeah, I Need Deadlines

Next month, I’m attending the annual Anthology Workshop that Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch put on each February in Oregon.  Basic premise of the workshop is they have several editors attending, and the writers are given assignments to write stories for 6 upcoming anthologies: 2 stories in December, 4 in January, one week to write each story.  Then we all send each other our stories and we all read them.  The editors read all the stories as well, and then at the workshop each editor tells why he or she liked or didn’t like each story, and then selects the stories he or she will buy for his or her anthology.  The anthologies are then published by WMG in the Fiction River series.

It’s a pretty cool deal.  I was going to attend the workshop last year, but I had to cancel because of changing work schedules for the Navy.  Not so this year: the schedule is set, my leave is approved, and I am going!

This week was the 5th assigned story.  Just like the other 4, I got it in before the deadline.  Just one more story to go, then the reading commences.

But here’s the thing.  I didn’t even start this story until about noon today, but I cranked it out (3,400 words) and had it in to Dean before 4pm.  I could have started it earlier in the week.  Should have, even.  But…I didn’t.  I did a lot of other things this week, but not that.

3,400 words for the day is pretty decent.  It’s far from the most words I’ve ever written in a day, though (I think that record is about 9,000 or so, but it’s been a while so I could be off a bit).  Now, what’s stopping me from writing that many every day?  Well, going to work for the Navy, working out, time with the kids and wife.  You know, real life.  But still, given I write between 1,500 and 2,000 words/hour, there really is not good reason why I can’t get at least 1,000 per day.

Right?

Reflecting back, I got all the stories written, on time, for last year’s anthology workshop as well, before I had to pull out.  I then promptly failed to get much other writing done in the year until the fall, when the deadline for Blaze‘s anthology loomed near.

Here we have yet another data point that I simply must have external deadlines, or i will slack the hell off.  That’s why I set up my Patreon page: another deadline that I have to make.

Going forward, I’m going to look for more ways to set external deadlines for myself – hard deadlines that I cannot just push arbitrarily.  So, I suppose I’d best start putting titles up on pre-order.  Can’t move the release date (with Amazon at least), and if you miss the deadline for uploading the final manuscript there are serious consequences from the bookstores, to say nothing about from the readers.

And I’m also going to work on methods to kick myself in the tail to just sit down and write.  Because, seriously, there’s no excuse to not have production.  The real question is how to do that, effectively and consistently.  The answer is simple, of course: discipline and accountability.

Clearly I need to alter my process to force more of the later, to help myself regain some of the former.  And I’m going to, so I can make 2017 a really awesome writing and publishing year.

🙂

That’s all for now, folks.  Until next time!

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