When I started my journey to publication, I had no idea how long it would take to write a novel. Seeing as I’d never written a full-length manuscript before, what did I know? Since the story percolated in my brain for years, it came out quickly. Only took me three months. My second manuscript took faster. Eight weeks. Now, as I sit down to write my third one, I want to keep that same pace: eight weeks. And here’s the thing––no one, except for me, is imposing these deadlines. I’m the only one with such expectations.
How I Calculate The Goal
I determine my completion date by taking my proposed final word count and dividing it by how many words I’d like to write per day (like when life doesn’t get in the way, like when I can write solidly without any interruptions). That gives me the number of days it would take me to write. Then, I divide that number by five (days per week to write), which tells me how many weeks it should take. On paper, right now, it looks like I could potentially finish the first draft in six weeks, eight weeks for sure if I adhere to a schedule. But that’s the problem.
Life Get In The Way
No matter how good my best-laid plans look on paper, they never come to fruition. Life always gets in the in. Drop-offs, pick-ups, my daughter’s golf matches, doctor appointments, and dentist appointments all interrupt my flow. Let me restate this again: no one else is imposing deadlines on me; I do it to myself. The problem becomes when I don’t reach a daily goal, thus putting me behind “schedule.” I get stressed. Really, really stressed. And for what? Why?
After finding an agent, I promised myself I wouldn’t rush my next manuscript. Yet, here I am, calculating my end date, stressing. I already have two completed manuscripts that can go on submission. It’s not like I’m lacking for material to submit. A third manuscript isn’t necessary right now. But for me, it is. It’s how I operate. It’s how my brain works. I want to be ahead. Way ahead, so when (notice I didn’t say if––hoping by putting that out in the universe, it’ll happen!) I sell my first manuscript, I’m not pressured to have to write another one quickly. And there’s that word, quickly. If I don’t want to have to write one quickly, then why am I setting that as my standard?
Yes, it’s because I am an overachiever. A perfectionist. Driven. Goal orientated. Type A all the way, which at times, can be a good thing, but not always. Sometimes, it causes undue stress like now. I’m looking at my calendar and sweating, wondering how I’ll manage to make my deadline with all my other commitments in between, the holidays sprinkled in as well. So why not just extend my deadline? Right! Exactly. It’s not like I have an editor breathing down my neck, telling me to turn in my work by a specific date. Instead, I have an overzealous boss. She’s setting these ridiculous numbers, silly expectations, impractical goals. Maybe you all can talk some sense into her. It’s not like I’ve had any luck!