If you can’t tell, my worst habit when it comes to writing is….drum roll…procrastination.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve worked best on a deadline. In tenth grade, I’d start my papers the night before they were due, long after everyone else had gone to sleep. Sometimes I write magazine stories on the same day I have to hand them in. This is not a good habit.
But it’s an even worse habit when we’re talking about books. You can’t write a book the night before it’s due. Not even the week before it’s due. You can stay up all night and you aren’t going to get 80,000 words on the page. Sometimes this doesn’t really matter — if you’re writing your first manuscript, for example, you probably don’t have a deadline. Or you have a self-imposed one. You can procrastinate until you’re ready to dive in, and no one will be banging down your door for a final product.
But sometimes, like if you’ve sold a book on proposal, you have a due date. And you need to deliver on that date. Which means you must pinpoint that perfect procrastination line, nailing down exactly how long you can put off working and still get your book written on schedule. It’s not easy.
Good habit: Writing a little bit every day, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter.
Bad habit: Saying “I’m diving in tomorrow!” every Sunday for months.
Side note: It’s now 11:42 pm, because I watched an episode of SVU in the middle of writing this. This procrastination thing stops now. I mean tomorrow. Right after one more episode.
Are you a deadline writer? Or are you one of those people who writes ahead of time, finishing long before anything is due? (If you are, I only hate you a little bit. Promise.)