Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Taking a Breath

I'm actually caught up right now. Well, mostly. I mean, I have a bunch of partially done projects, but I don't owe them to anyone, so they don't count when it comes to being behind or whatever. So yay. :)

I had a deadline on the 23rd (for a fic fest) and one on the 24th (for the Torquere Advent promotion) and both are done. I was actually about 40 minutes late with the first one, but the moderators said it wasn't a big deal, for which I'm grateful. And the second one was a bit late but only on a technicality. I mean, when someone says something's due on the 24th, then right before then they say they're going to be out of the office doing, like, holiday stuff until the 26th, I think I'm justified in giving myself two more days of leeway, you know? [duck] So I got it in today, about six hours ago, and hopefully that's cool and everyone who needs to like it will like it. It's a short sequel to "Chasing Fear" called "Catching Courage," about the same two characters.

And that's it. That's everything I owed to anyone in the near future. Next deadline is... I think a little over a week into January (I'd have to look at my calendar) for my next Romancing the Blog column, but I wouldn't want to write it this far in advance anyway; one never knows when some hot topic is going to go sweeping through the industry the day before your column's due, you know? :) And if not, I have a couple of ideas anyway, so that's cool.

But I don't owe anyone any fiction right now. It feels kind of loose and drifting, but at the same time it's like the world is full of potential. Everything I see or hear or read is a story idea and I could sit down and write about absolutely anything.

Often that kind of freedom is a bad thing; if I have to produce X number of words by Monday, being able to write about "anything" can give me a case of paralysis. You know, when your eyes go big and round and unfocused, and you're looking at such a huge chunk of the world that it seems impossible to focus in on any one bit of it? That's bad, and frustrating. I wrote some really putrid (to say nothing of horribly boring) compositions in high school when the teacher told us we could write about "Oh, anything!" :P

But right now I don't have that Monday deadline. Not needing to produce a finished product at any particular point means I really can write about anything, and if it starts to suck five pages in, it doesn't matter. I can start it over, approaching the same idea from another angle, or I can completely trash it and grab a new idea and try something completely different. It doesn't matter and that means I'm free to dabble and experiment and do something weird or different or just interesting. And that's cool.

Mind you, too much of this kind of freedom can also mean I never get around to finishing anything; having definite goals is a good thing, most of the time. But every now and then it's great to be able to just kick back -- to go web surfing, or read whatever I want, or play a computer game, or go browsing through story scraps and ideas from years ago -- and do whatever. Plenty of time to get all serious and focused and efficient later.

Have a great Rest Of The Year, everyone! Don't work too hard. :D



Charles Gramlich said...

I know the feeling of too much writing freedom. It feels so nice when you get it, and then you have to decide on something to fill it. A hundred ideas occur to me. I fiddle with this and that, but often I don't make much progress. And if I get frustrated I go have a nap or play a video game. Or sometimes I blog, which is sort of what I'm doing now instead of writing. LoL.

Travis Erwin said...

Unfortunately I have all the writing freedom in the world. I've never really had a deadline except the self imposed kind.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I try deadlines on myself but it doesn't work for me! Happy new year!

Angie said...

Charles -- it's great in small bits, yes. [grin/nod] A certain amount of absolute freedom, every now and then, is like plugging in your soul for a recharge. Then when it's time to get back to work, you have a full battery and can dive in with some enthusiasm and renewed creativity.

Travis and Ello -- no, self-imposed deadlines have never worked for me either. :P Unless someone else is counting on me for something, I know the deadline is fake and don't pay much attention to it.

What you can do, though, is go find deadlines for yourself, by entering contests or participating in fic-fests, or joining a workshop where everyone has to produce a story or chapter every however often. My 23 December deadline was for a holiday gift exchange done with stories, for example; it wasn't a paying gig, but it was real in that people were counting on me, and if I'd flaked off, or even just been late, the organizers would've tapped someone else to write (or at least start writing) a story for the person whose request I was assigned. The threat of having other people interrupt their holiday to make up for me flaking out or even just being late made the deadline real enough that I buckled down and finished my story.

That sort of deadline might work for you too, or at least be worth trying.


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Yes, I agree. When I did that story contest and had to come up with the two stories - it was definitely enormous pressure on me to produce and I did and did it well - but I definitely won't be doing that again in a long time! Now how do I come up with a good pressured deadline for my WIP?

Angie said...

Ello -- I can't deal with back-to-back constant deadlines either, although I admire writers who can.

For your WIP, though.... [ponder] Is there any ready-made deadline situation it fits into? If you don't want to do another contest, then maybe an open anthology somewhere it would fit into, or a seasonal or special-interest issue of a magazine coming up which you could shoot for?

If it's a novel, that's harder of course, because it's hard to get any sort of deadline on a novel unless you have a contract for it. Humm. I know RWA has some contests for first novels which require a completed manuscript by a certain date. Is there a similar contest, sponsored by a similar organization or publisher within your own genre?

On a smaller level, sometimes having a writing partner can help, one or more people you get together with to urge each other on, read each other's stuff, etc. Some workshops (the really good ones IMO) have a requirement for regular participation from everyone, so if you joined a group like that (with however much formality suits you) which required you to produce, say, a chapter a month for the rest of the group to read, that'd give you something to shoot for. Although it might be too slow. [more pondering]

Something like that, though? That's about all I can come up with right now. I definitely agree, though, that it can be tough to keep going on longer projects. That's one of the reasons I like NaNo -- at least it gives me a leg up, like a running start. [wry smile] Good luck!