Hup, two, three four! This is your Sergeant Major speaking and the deadline is approaching!

If you have read our ‘About’ page, you will have noticed that all of us Write Romantics are members of the RNA’s New Writer’s Scheme and, as such, we have an August deadline for submission of our manuscripts, in order to receive feedback from one of the wonderful published writers who so generously give up their own precious time to help us on our way.

People like me must be the bane of the fantastic NWS organiser, Melanie’s life. I have been in the New Writers Scheme for two years and on both occasions have managed to butt against the deadline with a last minute submission that is literally falling on to Melanie’s doormat in the final moments of the time allowed. I never mean to be that inconsiderate, but I am like those luckless grooms on “Don’t Tell the Bride” who spend ages dilly dallying around unimportant stuff, before hurriedly buying the bride’s dress in the first shop they come to on the day before the wedding.

I give myself the excuse that I work better under pressure. But do I really? Perhaps I would already be published my now if I took a bit more of a disciplined approach to my writing. So, this time around, I have decided to become my own Sergeant Major. I will write a thousand words a day (minimum) – no excuses! So no matter how much I am tempted to watch Embarrassing Bodies or The Big Body Squad (can you sense a theme here!?), I’m not allowed to until I have written the minimum quota. No more procrastination for me…

It is doubly important this year, as I started late. Edits and submissions of my first novel, have eaten into the writing time for the second (excuses again, moi?), so I was facing a partial submission. However, this time I intend to write a YA novel and I am looking at around 60,000 words. I started my writing ‘bootcamp’ on Monday and, so far, so good, I am at 9,500 words. At this rate, I should have a first draft finished in May and be able to submit gloriously early – which for me means late July or early August (instead of the 31st)!

I am not sure yet if this will improve the quality of writing and I know it is early days, but I feel motivated by making this contract with myself and by my inner Sergeant Major. So how are you all doing? Maybe you don’t have an NWS deadline, but something else you need to ‘hit’? Maybe you’re ahead of the game and a deadline queen or king? Of perhaps like me, you need to harness that inner Sergeant Major? In any case I would love to hear how it’s going for you and may the Gods of the muse be with you!

Jo x


15 thoughts on “Hup, two, three four! This is your Sergeant Major speaking and the deadline is approaching!

  1. Hi Jo,

    I’m impressed with the discipline. May have to bag myself a bit of that too!

    Writing always seems to be the thing that slips to the bottom of the priority pile even though it’s the thing that I enjoy the most. Tonight I have the 2 choices – the challenge of tackling the overflowing ironing pile or writing and I was, believe it or not, leaning towards the ironing pile. I absolutely hate ironing. Problem is, I keep telling myself that if I clear the decks, I can get on with the writing with nothing to distract me. But the decks never clear do they?! I’m thinking I may have to set myself a chapter a day to edit if I’m still to meet my self-imposed submission deadline of end of May.

    Let’s keep pushing each other!


  2. Hi Julie

    A chapter a day it is then! Just like the fitness bootcamp, you owe it to yourself to finish that novel and so from time to time the ironing will just have to wait. The odd crease won’t be too high a price to pay to see that novel on the shelf in WHSmiths or to get your first five star review on Amazon. So I’ll be checking in with you every few days to ensure that you are on track and, if you’re not, I’ll expect you to drop and give me twenty press-ups – just like the best Sergeant Majors!

    Jo xx

  3. Hi Jo and Julie and everyone, I could well do with a bit of pushing myself. The spirit is willing but the flesh just wants to curl up on the sofa with a good book (not mine..) a nice cuppa tea and a ginger nut. I blame the weather. Well I have to blame something. Seriously I must get a wriggle on this week. I seem to have been stuck at around 18,000 words for ages. I don’t set targets but maybe I should try it. I will shift up a gear tomorrow and think of you guys doing the same. Keep up the pep talks please – I need ’em!
    Best of luck.
    Deirdre x

  4. Hi all,
    Well done for talking about discipline…I think it is one of the most important parts of being a writer, and also one of the most difficult.
    I have started to write down my hours that I spend on my writing each day to get a total at the end of the week. It seems to motivate me in that I want to beat the time I spent the previous week! So far it has worked but with school holidays fast approaching for us I am not hopeful that I can keep it up for those two weeks 😦
    I think we also have to learn the power of the word “no”…I’m always getting asked to put my hand up to be involved with things at the school and sometimes that’s fine. I helped out with the junior band and I’ve been to the assemblies and watched the Easter parade, but I do have to be quite firm. I’m getting better at it too!

  5. Hi Ladies. Interesting comments about discipline. A hard thing to master! On thing I’ve recently discovered is a monthly email to two other writers, detailing what we hope to achieve during the coming month. Once you’ve told someone you want to write and sub a short story, complete another chapter, edit a first draft etc. you kind of feel you have to and ironing and such slip down the list of importance.

  6. Hi Julie, Rachael, Vikki, Deirdre, Helen et al

    I think we might have hit on something here for our blog members and any regular guests (like the lovely Vikki) who might want to join in. How about we all make a pledge, as Rachel suggests, from now until, say, the end of May?

    A writing target that will have Julie step away from the ironing pile, Deirdre put down that ginger nut, Helen say “no” a few more times and Vikki ramp up those 4000 words to follow Rachel’s lead and make a commitment to ‘achieve’ a certain goal? It’s a bit like those people who belong to slimming clubs just for the weigh-ins, as it’s that commitment to get weighed once a week ‘in public’ that helps to keep them motivated and on track.

    How did you all do today? Well,I wrote just over 1200 words, took a long walk with the dogs into the depths of a beautiful Welsh valley, took my two pre-teen girls into the nearest big town to shop ‘til they dropped (whilst mum-in-law and I enjoyed a Costa’s and some people watching in the sunshine and the boys hunted down the just released Hobbit DVD), had a game of cricket with the kids in the field attached to our holiday cottage, answered a few emails and gave a few of my Uni students some online feedback. Oh, and of course posted on here!

    Alright, so I am holiday and there aren’t the usual demands on me (no ironing for a start!) and hubby has taken on most of the cooking etc to let me relax, but I do feel really motivated at the moment. So I’m going to say it out loud (well type it at least) – by 31st May, I will have written at least 50,000 words (currently at almost 11,000) and have submitted my existing novel to at least four more publishers/agents from my ‘second round of submissions’ list.

    Let me know what you plan to do and we can rally each other. By the left, quick, type!

    Jo x

  7. I’m usually pretty disciplined until I get stuck on a chapter when, like Julie, I find myself unaccountably drawn to the ironing basket. That’s been happening to me for the last week or so. The house has rarely been tidier but I’m not making much progress on the MS!
    So I’m going to follow Jo’s lead on the commitment and say that by the end of this month I’ll finally have finished my MS and submitted a short story for publication. After that I’ve got to edit the MS but I’ve no idea how much work that’s going to involve so I’ll come back to you with a commitment for May.

  8. Hi Alex

    That’s fab! How many words/chapters/percentage of your MS do you think you still need to write? Have you written the short story already and identified where you’ll be sub’ing it to? Really look forward to your update at the end of the month. If we are breaking down to the end of April, I will revise my contract to at least 25,000 words and at least two new subs of the existing novel. Since I can’t even manage one ‘real’ press-up, let alone twenty, I’d best just keep my commitment! Good luck with completing the MS. Can’t wait to read it and chat about writing fantasy novels at some point.

    Jo x

    • Hi Jo
      I’ve got about 4,000 words of the MS still to write. I’ve been stuck on the penultimate chapter so that needs finishing and then it’s just the last one. Can’t quite believe I’m nearly there! I’ve written a draft of the short story and I’m going to send it to Storied Impressions who published my last one in February.
      For me it makes more sense to plan to the end of this month but I don’t want anyone else to feel they have to do the same. Maybe we should chose the timeframe that works best for each of us and then just let the others know.
      Hope the writing is going well for you and you’re enjoying your break.

  9. Yeah – the troupes are rallied!!!! I did manage my chapter yesterday and another one at lunchtime today. I had a Brownie planning meeting tonight and a pile of salad to chop so I’ve not got any further this evening and tomorrow’s lunchtime may be editing what I did today … but getting there! Perhaps we should have a new page called “our goals this week” (or maybe something snappier than that!) and, each Sunday (for example), we note down what each of us hopes/plans to achieve that week. We each then do a mid-week and end-of-week update. Maybe we show the previous week and the current week and delete previous entries to avoid it becoming cumbersome. What do you reckon? Fail to plan, plan to fail and all those other cliches! Writing it down definitely helps.


  10. Sounds like a plan. Although I am wondering if weekly would be too often, maybe monthly? Or am I just making excuses again! Well done on the editing by the way, no need for you to polish the Sergeant Major’s shoes with your toothbrush today – but I am keeping an eye on you all!

    Jo x

    • I am impressed. It is so good to encourage each other. As for discipline, I am not good at it! Something always gets in the way. I guess discipline has to become a habit for me.
      The good news is I will have more time to write now that some of my commitments have come to an end. I like the idea of setting ourselves goals to achieve, and sharing what we have done. Still typing one handed, so not done much work on my ms.
      Enjoy the rest of your holiday.
      Lorraine x

  11. Well I’m everso cross as I’ve got some kind of problem with my left arm and shoulder, which might be trapped nerves, they don’t know yet. All I know is it’s damned painful. Also terrible pins and needles in the arm. All made worse when extending the arm to the keyboard wouldn’t you know, so I have no option but to follow the doc’s advice, well some of it, and limit the time I spend at it. But I want to join in! (much foot stamping) so I will set my goal really low. By 1st May (3 weeks today) I will have done another 8,000 words, bringing the total up to 25,000 words. I won’t break it down into weeks as it’s likely to vary.


  12. Hi Lorraine and Deirdre

    Sorry to hear that you are both suffering physically and that this has slowed your writing down. However, great to see some target setting and (as Lorraine suggests elsewhere) we can celebrate our achievements with some virtual ginger beer. Here’s hoping we will soon be the Famous Five (times two!).

    Jo x

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