Saturday, July 10, 2010

Stephanie Newton Talks Deadlines

by Stephanie Newton

When I first started writing, I only wrote after the kids went to bed. They went to bed early. (Those were the days!) It wasn’t long before I decided that I really liked writing romance and I wanted to see what would happen if I submitted something to my favorite publisher. With the first request, I was no longer writing only for my own enjoyment, I was a writer working toward being published.

Along with that decision came a lot of other decisions, too. I am a homeschooling mom, a pastor’s wife, a soccer mom, a chauffeur to lessons galore…how did I fit writing into that kind of schedule?

Eight years later, I wish that I could tell you that I had it all figured out, that my family is always respectful of my writing time and I am always respectful of family time. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way.

This subject is on my mind because I have a deadline next week. And I’ll be honest with you--it’s been hard finishing a book this summer: late nights with teenagers who don’t have to get up early, June weddings, birthdays, beach time and family outings. I thought I’d planned enough time to finish the book and still have time to do some of the things I wanted to do. I didn’t plan on being sick. Twice.

Never fear. While my questionable time management spells a really rotten deadline countdown for me, I have learned some lessons along the way that might help you avoid similar pitfalls:

  • Allow more time to write your book than you think you’ll need
  • Plan ahead (Story board, synopsis, character charting, collage--whatever it is that gets the story set in your mind)
  • Plan days off and sick days into your writing schedule
  • Write every work day, no procrastination (i.e. Burn Notice marathons)
  • Meet word count goals consistently
  • Make your family aware of your writing schedule (institute a “do not disturb the writer” policy)
  • Have an accountability partner to help you meet your goals
  • Don’t allow writer’s block to slow you down--keep writing, even free writing can open your mind to other options

Finally, the best piece of advice: don’t doubt yourself. You will get there. Just like every journey begins with one step. Every book is written one word at a time.

Leave a comment with your email address before midnight tonight and your name will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Flashpoint. Please use (dot) and [at] so the web spiders don't nab you.

Read a Flashpoint excerpt.

Stephanie Newton lives in Northwest Florida with her husband, two kids, and two poodles. She is addicted to Twizzlers, Burn Notice, good coffee, and cupcakes. Her latest book in the Emerald Coast 911 series, Flashpoint, hits shelves at a retail store near you on July 13.


Helena said...

Welcome, Stephanie ... thank you for guesting here in the midst of all your other deadlines!

I wonder why the external deadlines work better for me than the ones I set myself? I suppose a failure to meet them is visible to the person waiting at the other end, and I feel I can't disappoint (or renege on a promise). Now, to convince myself that the promises I make to myself are just as important.

I'm off this morning to a novel-writing workshop where one of the topics we will discuss is the importance of that daily habit of writing. I do think it's important, I do think it's important, I do ....

hekhmk (at) sasktel (dot) net

Liz Fichera said...

Weirdly, I work better with deadlines and amidst chaos. When I have a whole stretch of a day with nothing to do but write, sometimes it's harder for me to concentrate.

Stephanie Newton said...

Good morning! Helena, I'm thrilled to be a guest at Prairie Chicks today!

External deadlines work better for me, too! Especially ones signed on the dotted line.

Daily writing has never been easy for me with a busy family, but having an accountability partner has helped tremendously!

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi Liz, congrats on your book with Carina! So exciting!!

I think it's a good thing that I learned early on to write amidst chaos, or I wouldn't be a writer.

Deadlines can be great, whether they are self-imposed and declared to a critique group or maybe a request from an editor...the good thing is that deadlines get you moving in a positive direction.

Vince said...

Hi Stephanie:

I worked under killer daily deadlines for decades in retail advertising. Deadlines are great motivators but they can also damage your health. This makes me wonder: what is the penalty for a writer who misses a deadline? I think the motivational potential of deadlines is directly proportional to the seriousness of the consequences of missing them. BTW: I am going to read “Flashpoint”.


vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi Vince,
You are so right. My chiropractor makes a bundle every time I have a deadline. Every author I know who writes a lot has issues related to writing. Great comment.

Thanks for reading FP, too!

Catherine Mann said...

Hi Stephanie! Great blog!!!!! Fabulous tips!! No wonder you have such a jam packed release schedule. :-) You're amazing!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey everyone.

Welcome back, Steph. So glad you could visit despite your deadline.

I see you've sidestepped Vince's query, lol, is that because you haven't missed a deadline and don't know? Or don't want to think about it?

I have Flashpoint in my hot little hands, but I haven't read it yet. If it's anything like your other books, though, I'm in for an entertaining read. Unlike some inspirationals, I KNOW your characters are attracted to each other from the get go and I really appreciate that in a romance.

I'm off to pick up my daughter from the airport today but I'll check in when I get back.


Stephanie Newton said...

Thanks, Cathy! I'm blessed to have some amazing writer friends (ahem) who showed me the ropes and taught me skills to help me survive!!

Love ya!

Stephanie Newton said...

Whoops, I didn't realize I missed a question in there...I haven't missed a deadline, so I can't answer from personal experience.

I do know that if you have an emergency and realize you're going to miss your deadline it's best to let your editor know before you miss it. Sometimes they are able to give you a few extra days or even a week or two.

It's a good question, Vince, and one I really don't want to know the answer to. :)

Stephanie Newton said...

Thanks so much for having me visit at Prairie Chicks today!

I'm glad you enjoy the romance between characters. I do too...i love showing the attraction and angst and all that good gooey love stuff as they figure it all out and fight off the bad guys!

Karyn Good said...

Welcome to the Prairies, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing your lessons with us. I really like the idea of an accountability partner, sharing goals with someone works for me.

Good luck with your deadline!

Stephanie Newton said...

Karyn, thanks for stopping by!

My accountability partner, Elise Parker, gets major props from me! She's an amazing writer in her own right and serves as an encourager and sounding board, too.

We try to post our goals for the day and then tag each other throughout the day to check progress.

Anita Mae Draper said...

I've found that if I don't check in with my crit partner on a regular basis, we both lag behind in our writing. We seem to need that constant contact to push ourselves harder and take it more seriously.