Meeting a Deadline

deadlineIn a recent post about Prioritizing My Writing I wrote about getting a new assignment from Red Line to write a book on Pearl Harbor.  This means that I have 8 weeks to research and write 14,500 words on the attack at Pearl Harbor.  I get a lot of questions about how I get it done on such a tight deadline.

Research is step 1.  Because it may take up to a week for things to come in to my local branch, my first step is to use the library’s online catalogue and request everything to do with my topic.  This brings in a stack of books and DVDs.  I still prefer to do as much paper research as possible because I retain and mentally process the material that much better when it is on paper, but I don’t limit myself to paper.

After I request the books, etc., I use the library’s online periodical database and search for articles on the topic.  I save everything that I find as a PDF that I can then read at my treadmill desk.

Last but not least, I comb through my shelves here are home.  Every topic that I’ve been assigned so far can be found on my own bookshelves.  I may not have a lot but I have something.  I read these pieces and the articles while I wait for the books to arrive.

Reading and taking notes takes a lot of time.  I read until the material gets repetative.  I may not have everything that I need, but I have enough to get started.  I arrange my notes by topic and use this to create my outline.

I outline the book and rough out the first chapter.   Once I have a draft of chapter 1, I can flesh out the research for that particular chapter.

The outline and chapter 1 are always due before the rest.  Once I turn that in, I get to work writing the rest of the chapters.  Yes, even without any feedback.  By the time I hear back, I can have about half of the book drafted.  I don’t bother to fix what I’ve written but I do paste the comments/directions into my text.  Then I finish the draft and working from these comments do my first rewrite.  After that, I do one more rewrite before printing it off for my husband to read.

It may not be pretty toward the end, but this is how I manage to do the research, more research, a draft and two full rewrites in two months.