Deadline Hell

I’ve heard authors refer to “deadline hell” before but never thought too much about it.  That is, until I had my first, real deadline.

When I was in school, I was always that student who finished projects way ahead of schedule. I never pulled an all-nighter, I never stressed too much about a paper or project due. I worked on it a little bit at a time until it was finished.

I figured I’d do the same with the outline of book #2 that was due to my editor at Random House last week. After all, I had a loose outline in my head already and the characters were completely fleshed out. All I needed was a little bit of research on a few points and I would write it. My outline was written weeks ahead of time. Boy, was I proud of myself. In fact, I was so far ahead of my own schedule I even started writing the book and got to chapter six.

Then things fell apart.

Something went wrong and I couldn’t figure out what. It took me two weeks and the deadline was looming, rising over me like all those  monsters in your worst childhood nightmares. Panic started to set in. What the heck was wrong with my story? Finally a week before it was due, it hit me. I didn’t like my hero. At all. He was boring and he did nothing for the heroine. She didn’t even like him!

I had to scrap the entire outline and start from scratch–two days before it was due. The problem was, when I finally figured my hero out, his history didn’t fit with him anymore. It was like a domino effect–I change one thing and everything else is affected.

The day of the deadline arrived and not one word is written, but I knew what I wanted to write! Luckily I have the greatest agent ever who emailed me and offered to read the synopsis. I sent it off to her, she made some comments, I worked late into that night making the changes –afraid I was going to pull my first all-nighter ever–and slid that outline in to my editor just a teeny bit over the deadline.

Deadline Hell. I lived it and survived it but never want to do that again. Whew (wiping sweat from my brow).

The good thing is that I have an awesome book to write with vibrant characters who have a long journey ahead of them.

So tell me, are you one of those who work better under pressure or do you like to get things done ahead of the deadline?


7 thoughts on “Deadline Hell

  1. I worked as a Respiratory Therapist in the ER for 13 years before my writing career took off and I learned to work under pressure, lol! Doesn’t make deadlines any easier though. I still like to get things done ahead of time, but often find myself at a deadline and doing it the night before 🙂

  2. I love deadlines! I think it’s the years in TV news, but when I have a deadline it’s like I can tune out everything except that project. I hit roadblocks like you did and it freaks me out, but having a deadline helps to keep me focused…without one, I can procrastinate like nobody’s business!!

  3. Not too sure– as like you(before), I never had one! So proud you pulled through with flying colors! I bet their story will all be worth the sweat and sleepless nights in the end. 🙂
    Your a great author,

  4. It’s hit or miss with me. Sometimes I work great under pressure and sometimes it stresses me out to much and I freeze. It just depends I think on how much else I have going on around me. So far I’ve made my writing deadlines, it’s the personal ones that I struggle with more. LOL

    Glad you got it all figured out Sharon and met your deadline!

  5. I’d love to believe I get my work done way before deadline, and in fact I start it then (just to carry on fooling myself) then as the date looms closer start to panic until eventually I sit down and bash it out. I wouldn’t write if it weren’t for deadlines. They’re fab. Good one, Sharon!

  6. Oh, boy. I do both! I usually get things done early but sometimes when I know I have plenty of time I create my own deadline hell by slowing down. WAY down.
    Good for you. You did an amazing job!

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