I Missed My Book Deadline. Here’s Why I Don’t Feel Bad About It.
Not at all.
This month, I missed my book deadline. A book I’ve been writing was supposed to come out on September 30th. It did not.
I’m a self-published author. I’ve already written a few books. The goal is to one day be published at a traditional outlet. Maybe. But for right now, the goal is just to write a lot of books.
Specifically, the goal is to write one book a month.
This isn’t an insane goal. Plenty of writers have been extremely prolific, moving heaven and earth aside to write hundreds of books. In today’s world, it’s probably even more common because online book selling outlets are suspected to favor authors with more books. They’ll recommend your books to readers of your other stuff. You’ll appear to the robots that you actually care about making this writing thing your job if you consistently have books coming out.
I thought I could just launch into writing a book a month. The people in my life who know me well know that I consider myself an author. Being an author was the first job I ever wanted. No matter what I may do for money or artistic expression, I want to write books. Period.
Here’s what happened during September that I can point to as taking up time that I should have been writing:
- A first-ever family reunion.
- Ramping up of work for main paying job.
- Addition of new, delightful client for main job.
- First date with boyfriend in five weeks.
- Emotionally trying time with boyfriend’s parents, requiring lots of emotional support.
- Promotion at two career-centered volunteer gigs.
- Invitation to join a creative agency, requiring several meetings.
- Hair perming.
- Several website maintenance projects, resulting in my nearly being able to pay off my designer couch (at f&&(^& last).
- Assignment of my biggest byline to date.
- Regular assignment of pieces about money and finance, a personal goal for years.
My time was given willingly to these things. So Curse of the Rose, my seventh book and fifth fiction project, was not published on September 30th.
I know I should be wracked with guilt over missing this first deadline. If I can’t make it the first month, how can I possibly make it the rest of the year? My mettle was crushed during the first test of my resolve!
But the truth is, it really hasn’t. I’m still a writer. I still have until March 2018 to write through every book on my editorial calendar. One mistake will not kill my desire for that book-a-month goal.
Being a writer is just one aspect of the entire person I want to be. I want to be the kind of person who takes care of themselves when they get sick. I want to be an emotionally supportive girlfriend, the kind of family member who drives out to the middle of nowhere to take a tour of the family’s onion farm that’s been owned for six generations. I want to be financially stable, so that my art can be made without compromise.
I care about my book-a-month goal insofar that I care about being able to follow through on things. I’m not a big procrastinator, but chipping away at things little by little is pretty much how I get anything done. Either that or I nearly die from sleep deprivation in a night of 12-hour shifts fueled by tea and fever dreams.
Have I given up on the dream of writing a book a month? Of course not. I’ve failed at too many things with too many projects to let this first one bother me.
In place of one book a month, I’m going with an old author standby: Daily word count. A reasonably sized book is 60,000 words. If I write 3000 words per day, that’s one full draft in 20 days. That allows time for editing, formatting, consulting with beta readers and publishing. That routine feels much more attainable than the vague “one per month.”
That’s the true secret to success, I’m finding: Routine. If it’s your routine to do ten pushups before you go to bed, then it won’t feel like a drag. It’ll be just what you do. Repeated enough times, you’ll have the strength to do 25 a night. And so on. You have to make healthy habits (including) not a big deal. If they’re just part of your life, you won’t beat yourself up when you fail and you won’t feel holier-that-thou if you succeed.
If I want writing to be my life, I have to frame it so that it’s not a big deal. Some things I write will be great. Other things will be terrible. Some deadlines I’ll miss because I’m attending meetings for my agency or scrubbing off the scent of my family’s ancestral onion farm.
That’s okay. I’ll keep writing. It’s just what I do. It’s not going away.
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