Setting deadlines for writing - is it necessary? Crime writer Pauline Rowson believes it is

I'm now well over half way through writing the first draft of the next Inspector Andy Horton marine mystery crime novel, the seventh in the series, as yet untitled.  But that certainly doesn't mean I'll have finished the novel by Christmas, although Christmas is my deadline for completing the first draft. Why a deadline?  Is this imposed by my publisher? The answer is 'no.' However, being a 'commercial' writer i.e. I write a popular genre (crime) I am, like other popular writers, encouraged to write at least one book a year because that is what readers of the genre expect, like and look forward to. Some 'popular' writers are expected to produce two books a year, which is quite intensive going unless you employ a 'factory' of writers, aka Clive Cussler and James Patterson to name a couple.

I find it helps to concentrate my mind if I have deadlines, and that's probably because of my background in marketing and PR working for many clients ranging from charities to the professional and education sector and those in business to business, where deadlines for brochures, advertising campaigns and media must be met otherwise sales and opportunities would be lost.

Some writers set themselves targets to write so many words per day, others to write for a certain number of hours per day or week. I've never counted the number of words I write per day, but I like to write for at least two hours every day and many days I will write for several hours a day, it all depends on what stage of the novel I'm at.

Generally though here is my timescale and deadlines:

Start a new novel - July/August
Complete the first draft  - by December
Revise and edit - by April
Submit to Publisher - in May/June

Start new novel - July/August

And so on.  Of course in between there has to be copy edits and proofs, talks, book signings, conferences and appearances.  Involvement in the Crime Writers' Association initiatives, such as the Young Crime Writers' Competition. Marketing and social networking, media appearances and interviews.

In addition, I have a couple of other writing projects on the go: play writing and writing a screenplay, along with, from now until May 2011 (another deadline), writing two non-fiction books (details of which I'll announce later.)

All in all lots of projects to keep me busy, but then that's the way I like it. So, had better crack on otherwise I won't meet my deadlines!

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