The deadline is fast approaching…

Shortly after walking away from five days in the beautiful botanic gardens of Adelaide, with sixteen other writers, led by the fearless and charismatic Fiona McIntosh, I set myself a deadline to finish the second* first draft of my manuscript. October 31 was my D-Day.

That deadline is fast approaching. And, I’m not going to meet it.

It was an ambitious deadline, considering I have a toddler, a part (might as well be full) time job and freelance work on the side. I’ve made my peace with it. Working to a deadline is a hugely motivating way to achieve your goals. But it’s important not to get too caught up on the times when those deadlines fall through the cracks.

I had set myself a word count across four days a week. Some weeks I hit or even surpassed it, other weeks I didn’t come close. My son and I both got hit with Influenza A a few weeks ago, there was no writing to be had during that time!

Though the deadline won’t be met, I feel like I’ve still achieved so much in the past six months. Whilst I may not write every day, when I do carve out the time, I feel completely connected to my story. I’ve made huge changes and I’m proud of the work that I’ve achieved. I no longer dread opening my laptop to work on my WIP, because the story is clear to me now, and though it’s far from perfect, I am more in love with my characters than ever before.

I’ve also been able to acknowledge my limitations and put some strategies in place to work with them. After trying to fit writing into my son’s nap times and getting frustrated when he would wake up “too early”, I decided to ditch the nap time writing and either postpone it until after bed time when my husband is home and can deal with unexpected wake ups, or focus my writing energy on my train commute twice a week.

I also –  somewhat indulgently – put my son in childcare for a few hours on one of my days off so that I can buckle down and get more words on the page. I struggled with this idea at first, as if I was somehow putting my writing in front of parenting, but thankfully I have a wonderful support network of parents who reaffirmed my belief that we can’t pour from an empty cup. Resenting my son for my lack of writing time was emptying my cup quicker than I could refill it.

So where am I at with just a few days to go until deadline? As of this morning, I had written over 73,000 words. I am at the pointy end of the plot and the finish line is in sight. I have a clear idea of my ending, it just needs to be written! The anticipation of reaching the end is motivation enough to see me through the last 10K or so. I know there’s still plenty more work ahead of me, but the thought of sitting down and reading this new story from start to finish gives me such a thrill.

I am loving this journey so much more than I thought I would the second time around. I just hope that one day you all get to share in my characters’ challenges and triumphs, too.

*After feedback and learning so much at masterclass, I decided to start my WIP again, from scratch. I’d already written an 85K first draft, but so much of it needed to change that it felt more efficient to cut my losses and start again.

12 thoughts on “The deadline is fast approaching…

  1. Rebecca Freeman says:

    Well done on your manuscript so far! That’s such an achievement and I hear you on trying to fit writing in around all your other responsibilities.

    Having a few childfree hours a week is so precious. I’m really glad you’re able to do that — I did it when my two oldest were tiny and it made such a difference to my sanity. I’m not sure I wrote much (I probably slept!) but it just gave me some time for me.

    I make deadlines that I don’t meet… Adam calls them ‘soft deadlines’ and they’re great to motivate me, even if I can’t do it by the time I wanted. I look forward to reading your book when it’s on the shelves 🙂


  2. mariemclean says:

    It really is beneficial to set goals with deadlines, but better to use them as a helpful guide and not beat ourselves up for not reaching them (or resenting the obstacles that prevent us from getting there!)
    I’m really interested in what you said about re-writing your manuscript. Do you mean the whole thing from scratch – i.e. no cut and pastes from the prior manuscript AT ALL?
    Did you plot or outline the second edition – or is essentially the same story but told in whole set of new words?
    I’ve been fluffing around with so many re-writes of mine, but I hadn’t considered starting from scratch. I’m currently in limbo deciding what to do about it, and this post has really caught my attention.
    I’m doing an intensive free-fall writing course next week, and was waiting until that was over to decide what to do about my latest re-draft.
    Your post has come at just the right time!


    • Kirsty Dummin says:

      Hi Marie, yes I started the whole thing from scratch! I copied maybe a handful of paragraphs but I would say only 1% of those words stayed in their original format. My first draft served more as an outline. It helped me to discover where I wanted the story to go,the major plot points, characters etc, but I really needed to start fresh to get it to a better place. I even switched from first person to third, so everything had to be rewritten in that aspect anyway. Quite a bit has changed, but the crux of the story is still the same. Just written better, I think.

      Good luck with your intensive. I hope it helps you work out what the next steps are for your manuscript. I must say, one of my favourite things about Fiona’s approach to writing is her ‘no one cares’ attitude. As new writers, we put so much pressure on our drafts to be perfect, but at some point we have to let them go into the world, get some feedback and not hold onto it. We’re holding ourselves back by doing that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mariemclean says:

        I love that mindset – ‘no one cares’. I’ll keep it in mind 😊
        Thanks for your reply. You’ve given me encouragement and direction to tackle my manuscript anew after the course.
        I hope you get to ‘The End’ in yours soon!


  3. Louise Allan says:

    You nearly made your deadline and sometimes that’s enough, especially because life and family have a habit of intruding upon our writing. 73K is amazing! The end is so close and you’re nearly there! Fantastic! 🙂


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