Tag Archive | writer’s block

The Joy of Deadlines

Whether you hate them or not, if you’re crazy enough to make it a go of this whole writer thing, deadlines are going to be a part of your life. I’ve heard people say they work better with a deadline – the sound of that little clock ticking lights their creative fire. Others lament that the pressure of a deadline drives them down Writer’s Block Lane, sometimes with a short stop at Xanax Drive.

In my experience, every writer vacillates between embracing and running from deadlines. It depends on your mood, the project (horror writer takes on romance novel for single grannies – wtf???), what’s happening in your life at the moment and – here’s an important one – the money. I’m not saying that money makes it easier. Heck no. Sometimes, the carrot of a big advance can cause temporary paralysis. Other times, you want to put that pool in and that advance will pay for it and the party to christen it, so watch those fingers fly!

deadline2So, what do you do when a deadline looms and you can’t get the words from your brainpan to the keyboard? Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill. I’m sure Pfizer is working on one, but we’re years from it hitting the market place.

All I can offer is my own experience. One thing I’ve done over the past few years is to set a personal deadline for everything I write, whether an editor has a set expectation or not. This way, I’m training myself to write both with a purpose and a plan.

Here’s an example. It’s May 1st and I’m about to start my new novel. Now, my editor has only asked that I send something to him any time in the next year. Well, if I want to build my brand, I can’t rest on my laurels. I have to write a couple of novels and some short stories and maybe even a novella for good measure within that year. Oh, and I have my day job that requires most of my time and my family.

If I didn’t set deadlines for myself, I’d be sunk. So, on May 1st, I estimate that my book will be about 90,000 words. I figure 4 months is a good amount of time to get ‘er done. In my mind, the book has to be complete on September 1st. I want to get that first draft finished by mid July so I have time to show it to my first readers and do several rounds of edits. That means I have about 75 days to write my first draft.

Editor deadline

If I do 1,000 words a day on weekdays, and 2,000 on weekends, I’ll cruise on in to my deadline. Then I have to take into account days when life just prevents my ass from sitting down and writing. Well, I’ll make up those words with a week of 1,500 words or maybe cram 5,000 on a Saturday.

The key is that through the entire process, I know exactly where I am, where I need to be, and what needs to be done each day to make it. You have to factor in situations that will throw a monkey wrench in the works. Shit happens. You’ll be fine as long as you’re planning ahead how to get back on track without adding more gray to your scalp.

It’s vital to remember that you’re in control. Writing is more than just something you’ve chosen to do – it’s something you love to do. Always, and I mean always, strive to have fun.

And repeat after me. Deadlines shmeadlines.

What’s been your experience with deadlines? What are some of the tricks you use to get over the hump? Inquiring writers want to know! I’ll give a free e-copy of my book, Sinister Entity, to a random person who comments about their deadline joy.

My Inspiration For…By Guest Blogger Lynn Hones

One thing every single writer is asked time and time again is, “Where do you get your ideas?” I was recently at a talk given by R.L. Stine, and he said he’s always wanted to respond, “I don’t know, where do you get yours?”

Inspiration can come from anywhere. From a childhood event, to something you see on the news and even a mispronounced word (which sparked a short story of mine that has been published quite a few times). I want to peel back the skullcap of horror writers and take a peek inside their creative process for all to see. I’m going to kick off this series with author Lynn Hones and the childhood vacation that was the golem-esque clay for one of her novels.

So without further ado, the following page is Lynn’s stage…

My horror ebook, Laugh in the Dark, started this way. Back in the late 1960’s it wasn’t unusual for Dad to call out to my mom that we were taking a road trip. Keep in mind this was way back before seat belts were mandatory and the posted speed limit was 70 miles per hour. There were six kids and one Volkswagen Bug. Growing up in Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border, the usual response uttered under our breath was, “Dear God, not Gettysburg…again.”

He’d light a cig and smiled, “Nope, we’re going to Conneaut Lake Park.”

Now he was talking. We’d happily jump into that tiny car with big smiles dreaming of Devil’s Den with the infamous Wall of Gum. I made a mental note to have the mandatory wad of gum to stick on the wall as the cart went up the first hill.

Mom, depending on the year, was pregnant and holding a baby in the front seat, with the rest of us crammed into the back and the “puke bucket,” along with a random kid or two, stuffed in what we called “the well” in the way back.

Once there, us kids, green from Mom and Dad’s ciggy smoke filling the car, would jump out and run for the Conneaut Hotel. Old and spooky, built on Lake Conneaut, it was a fantastic place with long, uneven hallways and doorways with windows up top to let in the lake breezes. No televisions, radios, phones or air conditioning, it was right next door to the small park. We loved to hear the old-timers tell us about the young and beautiful bride, Elizabeth, who died in a fire there on her wedding day, and haunted the hotel ever since, looking for her lover.

Dad would buy the tickets and we’d run through the park and ride to exhaustion. Back in our room, we’d sleep with one eye open waiting for Elizabeth to float through the wall.

Fast forward to 2011. I now bring my own kids there and run around with them like the skinny little, Converse wearing, gum chomping girl I used to be.

 The best part, is that the hotel, built in the late 1890’s, is still operating and…there are still no phones, radios, televisions or air conditioning. And yes, the Wall of Gum is still there. The park is just hanging on however, financially and may be seeing its last days in this economy. If you get the chance, go. The lonely bride will remind you that although she died over sixty years ago, her spirit lingers, just as the spirit of the old park lingers in the memories of anyone lucky enough to have visited it back in the day or as recently as last year.

For further information check out this website, http://www.clphotelconneaut.com/history.html, or go to my own website, www.lynnhones.com and look for my page, A Haunted Hotel. I’d love to hear from anyone who has been there and their memories.

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