I don’t have a tight schedule to write on. I’m not an author who is on the New York Times Bestsellers list (not yet anyway) so I don’t have any major publishing houses breathing down my back for my next novel (they would be quite upset with me right now). I also don’t currently have any newspaper or magazine editors waiting for my next article and hounding me about when it will be done. That would sound like heaven to most writers, no stress and worry about being penalized for being late with an assignment.
However, what I have discovered about me over the last several years is that I am one of those writers (hopefully not the only one) who needs a deadline. I need that invisible ticking clock over my head ticking away the minutes that I am wasting on something that is not going to actually earn me any income as a writer. I need that editor or major publishing house breathing down my back and constantly checking in with me to see if I have finished that article yet, or that next novel that I would ordinarily be stuck on if not for the fact that I have a time limit.
I have an ebook that I was supposed to have written by now so that I can begin promoting and selling it. However, despite the fact that I have an outline to get me off to a good start I have yet to produce one single chapter of that ebook. Perhaps if I had some editor telling me that it needed to be done in a month I could sit down and just crank it out already.
I’ve always known that I worked a little better under pressure. It seems like the more intense the pressure the faster I work and the better the writing is. Even with school papers I have always waited until the final moment, even now as I am earning a Master’s degree I will wait until the night before the paper is due to do it. I wish I was that person who could start things a week or more ahead of time, giving myself ample time to get things done and produce good work but I don’t believe I am wired that way.
So since I don’t have that editor or that publishing house screaming at me through emails I have to be the one dangling that deadline in front of my face. I have to start setting dates for the production of my work (and actually stick to them instead of just moving the date further up) and either find a computer program (not sure where to even start with that one) to help me keep track of those deadlines or mark the calendar and hold firm to the date I set. I suppose until I have that editor or publishing house tapping their fingers at me as a signal to hurry up and finish my project, I have to hold myself accountable in other ways. Otherwise I might never make it to that New York Times Bestsellers list (and on Oprah’s book club list) and that is an outcome that I refuse to let happen.
How do all of you deal with deadlines? Are deadlines your friend or your enemy?
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4 thoughts on “Is Having a Deadline Really Such a Bad Idea?”
F*ckin’ awesome things here. I’m very glad to see your article. Thanks a lot and i’m looking forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail%3
I am struggling with deadlines. For the longest time, I maintained a Word table of literary magazine, writing contest, and call for manuscripts deadlines with every intention of meeting them. When I began in 2004, I kept up with it. But in recent years, I haven’t been able to keep up with the deadlines. I have even tried to schedule alerts on the the calendar on my phone. Still struggling. I guess when you do get that publishing contract, you are motivated more because you feel like you have that responsibility and you have readers that you cannot let down. Maybe if I trick myself that I am on the clock and if I do not produce, I won’t reap the rewards at the end of my journey. I really liked your post and your magazine. Good luck with your magazine.
I like deadline because it gives me a timeline on when I should get things done. So a deadline is my friend lol.