Monday, February 21, 2011

Pressure Makes Perfect

Photo by William Warby via Flickr

A pressure cooker is an airtight metal pot that requires steam under pressure at a high temperature in order to cook food quickly. It may also be the way you feel when you are up against a deadline from your agent or publisher. This is not necessarily a bad thing. You see, pressure cookers make for some really well, evenly cooked food.

Sometimes publishers need to set a deadline before your material becomes a thing of the past. Seasons change in the industry, and while vampires might be "all the rage" right now, two years later while you are still trying to write the sequel, the moment has passed and you have lost your audience's attention.

Deadlines are necessary because they force you to work. It is too easy to procrastinate and put off something when the pressure is not on. Turn up the heat a little bit and suddenly you are scrambling to produce. Ironically, some of the greatest manuscripts are born under these circumstances.

In these less than impressive economic times, publishers are coming down hard on deadlines. This means that they cannot afford to keep you and there are plenty of authors waiting in the wings for your spot. So, keep in mind that if you have produced little or nothing, and you have only a short time frame left, it’s time to dig deeper, focus harder, jump in with both feet, and do not stop until you are finished.

Create a masterpiece under pressure; it will not be the first time—and certainly will not be the last.


  1. Hmm. The one I created under "artificial" pressure doesn't look much like a masterpiece. But perhaps I still need to take it out and brown it under the grill.

  2. I believe that often the problem lies with the some writer's tendency to over revise a manuscript. I often struggle with self doubt and insecurities with my writing, and feeling that it isn't good enough for the public to read. I can find myself constantly trying to 'perfect' and polish my work but if you look hard enough, you can revise a piece until your ready for your pension. At some point, you just need to go against your doubts and cut the ties, and allow the fates (or publisher) to decide the future of your work. It can be a rather painful process trying to get to that point, where you just accept it's time to open up your work to publishers' or agents' or the public's criticism.


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