The Big Deadline

Our second child’s due date is October 17, 2016. It’s a big deadline. There are many baby-related things we need to do before that date: pick a name; find and clean all of the baby toys in the attic; convert my office to the baby’s room (which is the only part I’m feeling sad about). But those aren’t the only things I want to accomplish by that date. My other goals have nothing to do with the baby at all, but with writing (of course).

After October 17 (or thereabouts), much will be uncertain. Will the baby sleep enough for me to sleep AND to write? How long will it take him/her to get on a day/night schedule? How will we all adjust to a two-child household? My productivity will be dependent on those factors for awhile. I hope I’ll be able to do more than I expect; I wrote almost two-thirds of the first draft of Waist in the first three months after my son was born. But I can’t count on that time. 

And so I’ve created three writing goals that I’d like to accomplish by October 17, 2016.

  1. Finish draft 1 of Blizzard, my current historical novel. I’m currently about 25,000 words into an approximate 100,000-word draft, so that gives me about 4.5 months to write 75,000 words. Since I’ll be on summer vacation for a lot of that time, it feels possible. I’m trying to focus less on word count with this draft, though, because I found that I actually write more if I commit to finishing a certain number of scenes per week as opposed to meeting a word quota. The word quota method seems to be more effective when I’m re-writing or editing future drafts.  (A lot of trial-and-error led to that discovery.)
  2. Launch my new website/nonfiction project and publish the first 50 posts, plus start a weekly newsletter and create bonus material. I’ve already done a lot of prep work on this project and have written several posts that are ready to go after launch, so this isn’t as overwhelming as it seems. I’m just waiting for the website to be ready.
  3. Write a full outline and start character development for my YA novel. I’m really excited about this one, and it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’m not foolish enough to think I can draft it alongside my first draft of Blizzard, but if I get the prep work done, I can write a draft while taking a break from Blizzard in the fall.

I’m grateful that I’m finally at the point in my pregnancy where I can set goals and feel confident that I can meet them (or at least make a very good effort). For many weeks this winter and early spring, my writing life was pretty bleak; I didn’t have the energy to generate new ideas and could barely keep pace on my WiP. Now I feel some of my stamina and my stores of creativity returning, and I’m ready to pursue more goals again.

Photo Credit: Unsplash
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Me, first trimester Photo Credit: Unsplash

Have you ever had a life event influence a writing deadline? How did you accommodate those life changes into your writing routine?

7 Responses to “The Big Deadline”

  1. Sara L. says:

    Good luck with your goals, Leanne! Make sure you take care of yourself in between the writing and the baby-related preparations, too. Do you think the change in seasons might have helped to lift your spirits as well?

    I can’t say that a life event has ever influenced my deadlines… But they’ve definitely impacted my writing routine / lifestyle. When I moved into my condo 5 years ago, I took a couple months off from writing so I could readjust to life on my own. And right now, I’m going through something similar. Now that my parents live an hour away, I’ll be visiting them every other weekend – which means less writing time on the weekends. So now I’ve changed my after-work schedule during the week to fit in 1 hour of editing… and while fitting in that time hasn’t been a problem, it’s been a struggle to shift other priorities so I’m not up super-late each night. :/

    But things are getting better, though. I’m starting to enforce stronger limits on my time and other things so I can take better care of myself and not be so stressed out. It might mean changes in other areas (including blogging frequency), but I’m ready to make those changes.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Thanks, Sara! I will definitely also be taking time for a lot of self-care. No matter how big my goals, I’ll never sacrifice sleep, exercise or meditation. I can’t function otherwise!

      The season change may have helped a little, but I suspect it didn’t have as much of an impact on me this year as it did on past years. I was actually a lot more productive this winter before I was pregnant than I was in early spring. Winter is usually tough for me, but the mildness of this year combined with using my trusty light box every morning really helped.

      It’s amazing how even minor changes can make a big impact on daily scheduling, isn’t it? Good luck with your new schedule!

  2. Kathy says:

    Now that’s a big deadline! I hope you achieve all your writing goals before the little one arrives. Keep reading Laura Vanderkam’s blog for encouragement about combining work and parenting. I find her words reassuring (even though I feel like a total slug in comparison to all she’s accomplished).

    I haven’t had a big life event to plan around, per se, but I have had a contractor here for the past two weeks working on renovating our bathroom. It was difficult in the sense that I was quite distracted and a little stressed by the activity, but it forced me to stay home and work on my writing business rather than gad about doing errands and playing too much. I’m still learning all the time what it takes to make this writing thing work.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Laura Vanderkam continues to be my inspiration for all things time-related. I figure if she can do it with 4 kids, I can do it with 1 (almost 2)! I’m trying to keep the positive, problem-solving outlook she recommends.

      A change in routine can really shake things up. I’m glad you found it beneficial. I love when I discover new things about my process… but I’ve also learned that those discoveries often don’t apply when life changes yet again.

  3. Marie says:

    Hi Leanne: I came across your blog page when looking for tips on how to maintain a Blog. Do you have any ideas to share in relation to how to prep for a blog, word count, how to choose the subject and keep centred on it. Just starting out and it feels daunting. This is a work project so personal choice on subject may get put to the back burner. I guess I am asking for a magic formula – what works for you – that is if you can share. I have just started reading your posts and I like the way your character comes through on your writing. Would love to be able to achieve that. Thanks in anticipation. best regards. Marie

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Hi Marie, welcome, and thank you for leaving a comment! Starting a blog is so exciting, but it definitely can feel overwhelming too. Your question gave me a lot to think about, and I’m considering writing a whole post on this topic, but for now I’ll just share with you a few things I think are important to consider when blogging:
      1. When you’re just starting out, keep the stakes low. Write for yourself, or picture an audience of one person. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you think about lots of people reading your words; give yourself a “soft open” like in a restaurant or a store, where you’re blogging but not really promoting, so you have a chance to find your voice.
      2. Use the post scheduling feature on your website so that you can write a post in advance and give it a look-over the next day. I almost always find ways to edit down my posts when I look at them with fresh eyes. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but helps with the final polish.
      3. Every few weeks or so, write down a list of post topics and, if possible, an opening sentence for each. It’s a lot easier to write a post if you already have a title and a beginning.
      4. Do what you’re already doing- read other bloggers, and decide what you like and don’t like. I love reading other blogs and getting inspired by them!
      5. Allow your blog to grow and evolve. I’ve been blogging for 5 years now, and I’m shocked at the number of changes I’ve made since then. Blogging doesn’t move in straight lines.
      If I think of more ideas, I’ll definitely write a post on this. Best of luck, Marie, and thanks again for visiting and commenting!

      • Marie says:

        Leanne: Your response is much more than I had hoped for, it is insightful, and encouraging . I will definitely try out your suggestions. Please share a blog post on the subject .

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