Meet Mr. Deadline………

02 Mar

Deadlines…the bane of a writer’s existence. We all set them and we all live by them. To be honest, deadlines are the only true way to accomplish anything as a writer. Let’s face it, writing is one of those jobs where you must police yourself as far as time devoted to the craft and in this regard, the deadline is your friend.

The politically correct word these days is “goal” but how many of you are really buying the new pretty dress put on the good ol’ deadlines subtle frame? I’m not. I set “goals” when I want to race myself to the finish of a page but the deadline…well, he’s the guy who sits up with me at night while I’m stressing. He’s the guy who reminds me that I have to finish the book I’m working on instead of “setting a goal” to finish it. When you set a goal, you have a sort of choice. A goal is something you are working at. A deadline is just that, dead, not interchangeable, final, no more second chances.

If you are going to be a writer you have to make nice with Mr. Deadline and welcome him to the table. It is wildly easy to do other things instead of write. Yesterday was a good example of a day without deadline looking over my shoulder.  I did laundry, I swept the kitchen, I watched a rerun of Supernatural. I rearranged my desk. It was 3:30 p.m. before I realized that Mr. Procrastination had come to visit and I was avoiding writing all together. Then something happened…at 3:35 one of the magazine publishers I work with called to tell me he needs some of my stuff by Monday. Bam! Just like that, deadline was back, and the clock was ticking once more. I was suddenly back at my desk, and although I whined for the first half hour, I started writing again. Mr. Deadline gets me back on track every time.

So whether you set your own deadlines or you have a publisher, agent, editor, or even a spouse who sets them for you, make nice with them…you need those deadlines to be a writer. It’s the Universe’s way of setting you up for success and it’s a necessary evil in the whole writing process. Set goals if you feel you need to but in order to get the real work done, stamp deadline across the box holding your manuscript and set a date. It’s a necessary step in finishing AND…it’ll get you out of doing the laundry!


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4 Responses to Meet Mr. Deadline………

  1. The Hyperteller

    March 2, 2023 at 8:09 pm

    As you touched on, ‘goal’ has nothing on ‘deadline’. Cold, definite, unchangeable - there’s a reason deadline has the word ‘dead’ in it, as you say. I think where a lot of people struggle with deadlines is getting the balance right - give yourself too little time and you panic, get flustered, and don’t get anything done. You come away thinking that setting deadlines was a bad idea, never do it again, and get back to wasting time. Or you give yourself too long, and you have plenty of time for all that Supernatural, and you convince yourself you’ve got ages, right up until the moment the project’s due in only a few hours and you have yet to start. It’s amazing how many people got to that stage with their dissertations when I was at university last year - nine months to do 10,000 words was definitley way too long…

    • thewritersadvice

      March 2, 2023 at 8:59 pm

      Yes, I agree. I try and tighten my deadlines for that very reason because it really is about balance. Here’s a question for you; what do you think is a good formula for setting deadlines?

      • The Hyperteller

        March 3, 2023 at 12:00 am

        Oo, tough one. I don’t know really - the problem is you can’t just boil it down to simple maths. For example, I can write 2000 words a minute, and when I’ve had to or haven’t had anything else to do all day, I’ve managed 10,000 words in one day. But to say ‘Ok, 10,000 word project, I can write that in one day, then say two for editing and one for final proofing’ is total unrealistic. I’m far too human. I guess rather than amount of words you can write per hour, it would be more a case of working out how much *quality* work you can put out in a day, then divide the task length by that and give a couple of day’s breathing space…

      • thewritersadvice

        March 3, 2023 at 6:34 pm

        That is very good advice. Thanks for sharing it with us. I have to take a project, set a word count and then divide i into the number of days until the deadline. It keeps me honest.


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