Susan talked about deadlines, and the less dire phrase that I liked was due date, but due date or deadline, it’s a weighty part of a writer’s life.
I’m not under the boom at the moment. My next commitment is for early January, but I can’t extend that because the book is slotted for September. (That’s because the book trickling onto shelves right now was moved from January 2007, so everything became tight.) It’s always comforting to know that the deadline can be extended by a month or so without anyone getting in a panic. I have about half the book written, but I have a busy September coming up and I’m looking ahead at October, November, and December somewhat warily.
Stuff happens, and that’s what screws up deadlines. Sometimes stuff doesn’t happen, and that’s even worse if the stuff is the story.
I’m a lousy typist but a pretty fast writer — when the story flows. I can do 5,000 goodish words in a day. I’ve done 10,000. The trouble is, such days are unpredictable. I do write every weekday and sometimes at weekends. I do the work, as Nora Roberts says. But I’m just as capable of writing, say, 3,000 words (a more typical day) which are great but wrong for the book. Or not great, and thus wrong for the book. If I force myself to produce words for the MIP (mess, monster, masterpiece in progress) they’ll probably be garbage.
What I do, therefore, is work on more than one MIP at a time, and when one gets balky I switch to another. It’s writing, it’s fun, but it can be hell on schedules. Mostly it’s worked. That back-burner MIP seems to ferment so that when I peep it’s ready to grow again. But it’s a very unpredictable way to write books.
Which is why deadlines is maybe the right word after all and the due date is when the book is scheduled to appear on the shelves. Which is next week in the case of To Rescue A Rogue, but it’s a tiny bit premature and is popping up here and there already.
If you’re a writer, how do you plan the writing of a book? (That reminds me. Before I wrote my first book I was overwhelmed by the idea of sitting down to do something that would take monhs, perhaps years. It seemed impossible, insane. It probably still is, but as they say, you have to be crazy to work here.)
If you’re a reader, how important is it that an author has books out frequently?