Deadlines: Motivating or Paralyzing?

A writer's desire is to have their words shared and appreciated by a broad audience. But there are LOTS of steps that lead up to that end. So when we met with FIVE great agents at our recent pitch conference, and EVERY ONE of them asked us to send them more, we were FREAKING OUT! (See all the CAPS here? Those represent the screams and yells and jumping-up-and-down that occurred with each request.)

After the adrenaline coursed through us and we sunk into the couch to assess the work to be done before actually sending our manuscript, we realized something that we'd forgotten since college: 

When you're faced with a deadline, if you want to have a chance at reaching your goal, you have no choice but to rise to the (stressful, terrifying, intense, exciting) occasion.

Have you ever been in the situation where a deadline did the opposite? Where you actually froze in the light of a looming pending project. Well, that almost happened. Because...the stakes were so high! So, we thought we would share the strategy that helped us get the job done.

Holly and Jenn present to you...The Four R's.

1. Relax: Remember the adrenaline? Well, it's a real thing that can change your body's/mind's ability to think rationally. So we took a lot of deep breaths, we cracked some cold La Croixes, and we just let our soaring hearts take their time finding their way back to steady rhythm. It took about thirty minutes.

2. Recap: Then we wrote some details down to make sure we didn't lose them. Which agents wanted the full manuscript? Which wanted a smaller sample? Where were we going to send our precious words to? What format was best? How about the text for the email? The one-sentence pitch? The comparable titles/authors? How much should we edit our query letter or synopsis? And most importantly, WHEN would we have it polished off and ready to go? We wrote all those things down and looked at the calendar. 

3. Relegate: We love lists, and we're good at them. Quite good. It's a Mom-Super-Power. The list became our roadmap, and included all the tasks we needed to complete to fully prepare for submission. Things like, should we capitalize King, Queen, Princess, Duke, etc. throughout the novel? Did we spell Elyssiun (and other unique names that spell-check wouldn't recognize) consistently? (The answer was NO. It was spelled five different ways - too many Ls, Ys, and Ss. Ha!) Don't forget to remove double spaces, fix formatting issues, check hyphens and ellipses, quotes and italics, then review it all again once it's converted to MS Word. The list went on. But once allthethings were written down, we assigned them and got to work. 

4. Realize: As in, put into action. It took six days of intense work, lots of calls/texts, too many cups of tea, late nights and early mornings, to finish polishing and prepping our manuscript. But by Friday, we hit SEND and watched our baby go off into the hands of qualified agents, all of whom we'd be honored to work with. 

And then we settled down to wait and pray for the right partner for The Vale. We will keep you posted.

But if you have a deadline, if the pressure of a pending project is a source of anxiety, we hope the Four R's can be a helpful tool for you.   

Happy Summer friends! 

#dontpanic #plan #keepitmessy #itisthebestoftimes

Photo by Katie Harp on Unsplash

Holly and Jenn

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