False Deadlines

My Backyard Writer's Shack

My Backyard Writer's Shack

I used to think real entrepreneurs were Obsessed (capital O) and real artists were Inspired (Capital I) and it was this singular Inspiration or Obsession that brought to fruition their ideas and art. I now believe such singularity is a myth. As I indicated in my last blog, my entrepreneurial obsession has been the culmination of catalyzing events. As for my artistic inspiration, natural catalysts are not as frequent. So I improvised.

It has been said that the hardest thing about writing a novel is finishing it. No truer words were ever spoken. A writer without a publishing contract has little motivation beyond his muse (a dead Greek myth has, shall we say, motivational challenges). To help me finish my business books, my publisher used a combination of editorial carrot and contractual stick. For my novels, I’ve had no such incentives so I’ve invented motivational devices of my own: false deadlines that ranged from simplistic to delusional.

Editorial Calendar
On the saner end of this continuum are my chapter by chapter editorial calendars that force me through a first draft.. But a first draft is long way form a finished manuscript. As these quickly penned blog posts illustrate, I’m not one of those writers whose sentences are perfectly formed and well cadenced. I need an editor and copious review cycles to make it to the finish line. For me, the hardest part of writing is that first review cycle. Creating something from nothing is easy. Creating a readable novel from stilted drivel is another thing entirely.

Self-Deception
For my business books I had research and analysis to frame my work. For fiction, there are no such boundaries. I am inevitably overwhelmed by the editing required to transform a first draft into a finished manuscript. To prod me forward I introduce other more achievable deadlines. For my first novel, I decided to publish the first section as a stand alone piece. Once I finished editing this section, I spent about two seconds trying to publish it before returning to the task at hand—writing a novel, not a short story.

Paranoia
Having one fifth of Able Was I edited provided the motivational tipping point I needed to edit the rest of it, but not sufficient wherewithal to publish it. I sent out a few query letters to agents, but my business was consuming more and more of my time, and at some point, I realized I didn’t have time for the intermediary process of finding an agent. I knew if I didn’t find a publisher by the end of the year, I would never publish this novel. So I decided to e-publish. While this decision gave me control, it introduced a vast array of logistics: line editing, layout, jacket design, etc. Having gone though this process twice with a publisher doing all the work, I knew what was required and needed an additional incentive to sacrifice countless weekends to tedium. So I convinced myself someone had stolen my manuscript (maybe one of those fickle agents I never heard back from or the dubious Kinko’s copy guy) and I had to quickly publish or perish. There’s nothing like a plagiarizing PLY to whip a paranoid PLU into action.

These are just a few of my tricks of the e-publishing trade. Funny, I thought I was alone in this chicanery until I heard about the Mother (capital M) of all literary false deadlines. If you haven’t heard about NaNorWriMo, I won’t spoil the fun, but I will say that it’s a false deadline that I couldn’t come close to hitting. And yes, I tried.

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Since this is my first full e-publishing post, I wanted to thank some people (Kevin Smokler, Angela Hoy, Vikk Simmons) who helped me navigate the world of e-publishing the first time round.
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Below is a full list of Entrepreneurial Reluctances/e-Publishing lessons from my Top 10s blog post.

Entrepreneurial Reluctance

1. The Catalyst(s)

2. Good $ vs. Bad $

3. Risk Reduction

4. The Network Effect

5. Been There, Done That (serial entrepreneurialism)

6. The New New Thing

7. Emergence & Maslow

8. The Analogy of the Watch (moving parts)

9. A Clean Cap Table

10. Perseverance or Blinders


e-Publishing Reticence

1. False Deadlines

2. Readers & Editors

3. Genre Opportunities

4. Target Marketing

5. Self-Promotion

6. Creating you Brand

7. The First Review

8. The Network Effect

9. Amazon Ranking

10. The Book Tour

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5 thoughts on “False Deadlines

    • When I see a whole manuscript of ill-formed sentences and trite sentimentality I just want to hole myself up with non-literary types (easy to find in SF) and drink. I guess I would not be the first novelist to do so, nor the last.

  1. I love this post, Drew. Of course, I am familiar with a few of these motivating false deadlines as part of your process, but I had no idea about that effective paranoia approach. No wonder we moved so fast!

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