Alyssa Alexander here! I recently finished up another book in my spy series. The deadline was January 31, 2017, and to be honest, I scrambled to make it. (If you are my editor and reading this, I had it done six (6) weeks in advance!) 🙂
Truthfully, I wasn’t scrambling because I procrastinated or the book wasn’t working—though there were times I wanted to bang my head against the wall. The rest of life intruded. Still, I learned a few very valuable lessons I will take with me into the next round of deadline writing.
#1 Assume that life will intrude. I may not have expected to have foot surgery 12 days before the book was due, nor to attend the numerous tests and doctor appointments before and after that surgery, but next time I will assume life will implode in the final month.
#2 In times of need, a tribe will gather around you. I received encouraging texts, emails and phone calls. Lasagna and soup were delivered. Two friends sent cards. Grandparents borrowed my child for weekend visits to free up my time to write. My husband was a bedrock of support and waited on me hand and foot. (He had to—I couldn’t walk!) Words can never express my humblest gratitude for the many friends I am lucky enough to possess.
#3 If you think you can, you will. Positive thoughts have a lot a power. I’m a firm believer in karma and that what you put out into the universe will come back to you. Because of it, I bought myself a little desk trinket. I knew if I believed in myself enough, I could do it—surgery and all. So I did.
#4 It will happen again. And that’s OK. Life is unpredictable. Characters are unpredictable. Plotting will only get me so far, as I write by the seat of my pants. Deadlines will always loom, and though I generally get things turned around quickly and as far in advance as I can, sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way. I’ll be on deadline again soon, and next time I’ll plan for life to intrude—because it will. Life is messy that way!
#5 Do not drink two pots of coffee followed by two glasses of wine in a single day. Otherwise, when you frantically call your critique partner for help the day before the book is due, the conversation will go something like this:
Her: Hello! How is the deadline coming?
Me: Hi. DoyouthinkIshouldkillthevillian? Ifhedieswhodoesit? Howmanybadguysshouldtherebe? Howdoestheheroinegetoutofherhidingspot? Isshecarryingaweapon? Whataboutthesexscene? Isitstupid? Istheherotoohonorable?
Pretty sure that conversation was one for the books.
P.S. I made my deadline at 12:30 am on January 31. Almost 24 hours to spare!