Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Writing on a Deadline

Writing on a Deadline

Writers are known for pushing deadlines as far as they can go. Even when they’re not doing it on purpose, it’s a generally accepted, well-known piece of information that if you are a writer, you will one day find out that you have to write something in a ridiculously  short amount of time.

I, personally, am the type of person who always ends up doing things last-minute. A few months ago I mentioned that I wrote a story for the Speculative Faith Writing Challenge, if any of you remember that—what I didn’t mention was that I didn’t even know of the existence of the contest until afternoon on the day the contest ended. I ended up writing the story (which, admittedly, wasn’t very long) and editing the story in the time remaining before midnight. When the Tales of Goldstone Wood Fan fiction Contest came up, though I planned on writing the story with plenty of time in advance, I ended up changing my story last-minute and writing a whole new short story for the contest that day. About a month ago, I participated in a small, private writing contest and ended up—you guessed it— once more not working on the story at all until the last day.

There have been other times when I’ve pushed deadlines to the limit or barely made deadlines, but suffice to say that I have had some experience with working on tight deadlines, sometimes by my choice and sometimes because that was simply the way it was. I’ve learned what works for me on deadlines, and what doesn’t.

Get something hot and preferably with sugar in it. Coffee, hot chocolate, tea, whatever your favorite is. Prepare to drink a lot of it.

If you’re working on paper, put it on a clipboard and take the little piece of cardboard wherever you go. Don’t set it down for a minute, whether you’re wandering around the house or being still. Whatever you do, don’t set the thing down.   

When you’re on a computer, it’s easier to remember that you’re working on something; computers are considerably harder to misplace than a small piece of paper, so you shouldn’t have to worry about being perpetually touching it. When on the computer, turn on music. If it’s a short story or the end of a novel, you’ll probably find that there is one song that keeps you writing the fastest, and you will end up clicking for it to replay that one song out of ten others that you would normally listen to (while writing my Tales of Goldstone Wood Fan fiction, that one song was Through Heaven’s Eyes, from Moses: Prince of Egypt. I don’t even usually listen to that album while writing, but that song ended up having the perfect rhythm and sound; without it, I don’t think I would have succeeded in finishing in time).

Avoid the internet. No further information required.

Always be aware of how much time you have left, but don’t panic over it. Put a clock where you can glance at it so that you won’t have to waste extra time finding a clock, and be sure to remember that you may need time for editing. If you’re writing it on paper, you’ll also most likely need extra time to type it out.

Remember to keep moving. This advice can be discarded during the last hour you’ll be working on it—at that point, your heart will probably be starting to beat pretty quickly anyway, and you won’t need extra effort to keep the blood flowing. Also keep yourself hydrated—but, again, if you’re like me, you won’t need to remember to do this as your time runs out, because as you get more nervous, you’ll slowly start to consume more and more water.

When it comes time to edit, read it, read it, and read it again. You’ll still miss most typos and the like, so get someone else to read it, too, if at all possible. Turn off your music before editing to slide out of the breakneck speed you were writing in. You’ll still want to go fast, but not quite that fast.

In the end, though, don’t be too horribly concerned if you don’t finish in time; you’ll still have gone through an excellent writing exercise.

What are some things you’ve learned about writing on deadlines? How do you be sure that you’re writing your fastest?

What? You think I’m hinting at something? Well, you may not be wrong…

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4 thoughts on “Writing on a Deadline

  1. Oh wow. First off, you don’t know me, seeing as I just happened to stumble upon your blog, but congrats on your 75 followers (or 69, whichever you prefer me to congratulate you on).

    Second, this is very helpful, not just for this awesomely cool contest that I may or may not do (so expect a story to maybe come last minute) but for my writing in general.

    Third, do you write fanfiction on fanfiction.net? Because if you do, what’s your fanfiction name? Because I’d enjoy reading your fanfictions, some time or another (and please don’t think of this as creepy. I just like reading, and I don’t go to the library often).

    Lastly, and most awkwardly, I’d ask if you visit my blog every once in a while, even though there’s nothing much on there right now (because I can’t figure out how to do stuff). I’m fairly new to blogging and know close to nothing so it’ll be nice to have a blogger friend, if you’d like to be my blogger friend, of course.

    • Glad to know you, and welcome! 😀

      I’m glad you found it helpful. 🙂

      I’m afraid not… I don’t write a whole lot of fanfiction. The only fanfiction that I’ve done is for the Tales of Goldstone Wood series (an excellent series, by the way), and that because the author hosts a yearly fanfiction contest on her blog. Other than that, I’d feel to awkward to actually take someone else’s characters and… do things with them. 0.0

      Checking out your blog now. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Precious @ Clockwork Desires on said:

    The only times I write on a deadline is for English class, because I end up procrastinating until the night before (or morning) it’s due ;). But this post was really helpful in case I ever find myself in your kind of situation.

  3. I try to spread out the writing of a project over a period of time, but that doesn’t always happen, so yes, I have found myself rushing towards really tight deadlines. Hot chocolate is definitely a must, and so is turning off the Internet. Except that the last one is easier said than done-at least for me.

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