Thursday, July 8, 2010

Procrastination DOES NOT Create Great Stories

We have all heard this before. In fact, many of you are people who honestly believe in this myth. Procrastination creates pressure but that is fine because, "I work best under pressure." We have a problem here. Yes, we know that people will perform better when there is something at stake, but using procrastination is far from the best way to create that pressure.

I actually heard a published author make a comment a while ago that proved just this. I heard her comment that she was really stressed because she had a deadline of finishing a book in 6 weeks. She had to have the completed project on the desk of the editor in that amount of time. The problem was, she hadn't even started the project. What frustrated me more was that she followed that comment up by using the "I work best under pressure" line. Nope. doesn't work here.

Now I had a couple of problems with this situation. First, I want to know why she only had 6 weeks to write it. If she was literally just finishing another project, then maybe she and her agent need to discuss the writing timeline. Maybe she has to be a bit more honest with herself and know what she can and cannot do. Writers have to have a sense of how fast they can write and be realistic about it. In the end, the editors will want to keep you around longer if you produce high quality work all of the time even if it you aren't producing as much.

Secondly, and this is the bigger one for me, if she did cut herself short on this project, the odds are it will be a rushed job. Yes, writing a book in 6 weeks is possible, but if she is rushing things, then it is a sure sign she will miss things in the story. That depth of storytelling, the great plot that takes time to figure out. The characters that really have a history and really show promise. All of that will be lost because she can only focus on "cranking out a plot."

This is a business that you simply cannot leave things to the last minute. As a professional writer, you have to remember that there are a lot of people, other than your beloved readership, that needs your story. Your editor, the copy editor, the marketing department, the art department, the typesetters, and so forth all need time with the work. To add to this, there are a lot of other people out there also needing these services. Your editor has fought long and hard to get you that slot in the publication schedule and you sending a piece of garbage that might even be late is certainly no way to thank them for the hard work.

Look, if you want pressure, think about creating the pressure of creating something new. Finding a way to drive that book to the top of the review chart. Find a way to sell even more books or sell them faster with an higher quality project. That is a real pressure.


1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful comment. Scott, you are really in a class by yourself. Why? But I am grateful. Have fun at Nationals.
    And I am resisting the temptation here to call you Mr. GH. Still think it is a funny story.