Contest news has given me a deadline.

Writers (especially romance writers, given the wide range of contests available through RWA chapters) use contests for a variety of purposes.  Some who must work in isolation find them most useful for feedback.  Some hope to get their work before the editors and agents who serve as judges.  And some of us, as yet without agents or editors to keep us on schedule, use them to establish deadlines.

After I sent two entries off to the Golden Heart® contest last November, I took a break.  I told myself I was just going to write for a while, build up my inventory, but I was also feeling a bit discouraged.  When I learned in late March that Paper Hearts had made the Golden Heart finals, I found myself caught up in building this web site, sending off queries, and making plans to attend the Romance Writers of America® National Conference in New York City in June.  I switched to editing mode for a while, but I didn’t do much new writing.

Life gradually got back to normal after I got back from New York, and I gradually got back to my work-in-progress, Bathtub Jinn.  Gradually wasn’t good enough, though, when the contest bug snuck up and bit me again.  The first contest I wanted to enter, the Golden Pen, uses the same format as the Golden Heart: the first three chapters or so (no problem, I had half the book written) and a synopsis (oops!).

I made a list of suitable contests, and the first two, with entries due in mid-August, required synopses.  So that set my first deadline: outline the rest of the book and write a decent synopsis by the middle of August.  I am not by nature a plotter, and I still don’t think I could plot a whole novel before I started writing.  But I had half of Bathtub Jinn in the computer, and some idea of where it was going.  According to my writing journal, I spent two weeks in July rereading and editing the first half of the book and another two weeks working out the rest of the plot.  (Evenings, mostly–I work full time and commute into Houston to my job.)  It took me another five days to recap both the written and the plotted sections in Action Outline (my new favorite organizing software).  By this time I had the story pretty well worked out, and I wrote the synopsis on the weekend the contest entries closed.

I must have done something right, because I learned this week that Bathtub Jinn is a finalist in the Golden Pen, the contest sponsored by the Golden Network, the chapter composed of Golden Heart finalists.  That convinced me to enter Bathtub Jinn in the Golden Heart.

But the Golden Heart doesn’t just require a synopsis; it requires a completed manuscript.  Due at the RWA office by December 2.  My friend Jo Anne Banker is working on revising a manuscript, and has about the same amount to write, so this morning, bookkeeper that she is, she turned to her caluclator and figured that we each have to write about 3500 words a week to meet our deadlines.

I’m on Day 81 of my current one-hundred-words-one-hundred-days challenge, but one or two hundred words a day aren’t going to get this book finished in two months.  Time to get serious.  Who needs to sleep, anyway?

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Colleen Thompson
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 07:43:04

    Congratulations on the wonderful contest news, Kay! And these mini-deadlines are great practice for book deadlines!

    You can do this!

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    • Kay Hudson
      Sep 30, 2011 @ 15:54:32

      Thanks, Colleen. Heaven knows I spent years turning out long historical and archeological background reports on deadline, so I should be able to do it with a story I get to make up (who are we kidding–that’s harder!). And the write-every-day thing helps, whether it’s one hundred words or five hundred.

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  2. Cheryl Bolen
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 13:24:57

    Hey, 3,500 words a week is just 14 pages. Very doable — especially when you know where you’re going.

    You could also put NPR on hold during your commute. Driving in silence allows me to plot. Of course, I know everyone’s writing practices are different.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Sep 30, 2011 @ 15:56:25

      Heaven help me, Cheryl, driving two hours a day in silence would kill me! At least I’m not talking on my cell phone the whole time, like those loons in the next lane. I have the radio on all the time.

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  3. Laurie A. Green
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 23:15:48

    Good luck with your goals, Kay. I agree that 3,500 words a week is doable, if life doesn’t get in the way of your plans.

    I commute almost two hours a day, too, and I agree the radio (or iPod in my case) is required equipment for those long commutes.

    Best wishes on getting ready for the Golden Heart.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Oct 02, 2011 @ 09:31:40

      Thanks, Laurie. I’m plugging away on chapter 14 this weekend. I have to say, having an outline (and so far I’m expanding it but not changing much) really helps.

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  4. rinkoo wadhera
    Oct 16, 2011 @ 09:05:16

    Does keeping a journal help you Kay? How do you use it?

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    • Kay Hudson
      Oct 16, 2011 @ 09:30:34

      My journal doesn’t have much to do with my writing project, Rinkoo; it’s more of a diary. I keep my actual writing notes (word counts, contest entries, expenses, etc.) in a separate daybook for reference. But I think writing in the journal every night keeps me putting words together and helps me sort out my activities. And every once in a while I do go back and look for something.

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