I write commercials and deal with deadlines all the time. That’s why I know better than to use the ACTUAL deadline for a project. What I typically do is choose a deadline that I am more comfortable with.
The submission deadline for The Dark Crystal Author Quest is December 31st. My personal deadline is December 21st. It is also Yule. I felt it was fitting because it would be my Yuletide gift to myself. It also gives me a cushion of 10 additional days (which I have vowed are NOT an option).
I started working on this the day it was announced. June 23rd. Although I haven’t been actually “writing” constantly, I have been working on it every day. Some of that work meant stepping away from the laptop and just giving myself some space. It gets overwhelming, with the whole thing threatening to cave in, leaving you trapped in some sort of creative limbo.
At first, I was going to write the entire thing. All 50 thousand words. Then panic set in and I decided to write until I reached a point where I could submit my 10 thousand words and worry about the rest later. What I didn’t bank on was the character outline they requested. The problem is that at the 10 thousand word mark, I haven’t “met” all of the characters yet. I don’t know who I was kidding. As I pulled into my snowy driveway and plugged my car in for the night, I wondered aloud. “Did you honestly feel that you would be OK with ‘worrying about the rest later’? Since when has that been a gameplan you’re comfortable with?”
The way I write is this. I do a basic story outline (most of which is in my head), then do basic character development, then do whatever research needs doing which includes finding names for the people, places, and things that I will be introducing into the story. They key word here is “basic”. What typically happens is that characters present themselves as I write. (Oh, hello there! Who might you be?)
‘The Gathering’ in “Believe” was very much like that. I knew that the event would take place and had a basic idea of what to expect, but only when I actually started writing did all of the characters start showing up.
In the last 24 hours, I realized that things weren’t going to work the way I thought. I am going to have to at least do a rough draft of the rest of the story in order to flush out the characters and be able to have proper character outlines for my submission. That means writing an additional… oh, 30 thousand words or so in the next 31 days. Actually, with regard to time, it’s less than that because I want to do at least one… OK, make that three edits before submitting it. Commence mental meltdown in 3… 2… 1…
Much like giving birth to a child, one day I am going to look back at all this and think “What a wonderful adventure”, all of the stress and sleepless nights long forgotten. At least, I am hoping that’s the case.
For now, I will brew myself another cup of tea and see where this story takes me. On second thought, make that a pot. Yes, a pot of tea with a side of Skeksis… or something like that.