My social media feeds are often filled with writers working to deadline. Pictures of messy desks, empty chocolate wrappers and countless cups of coffee, all constant companions when working to a deadline. Most of these authors have real deadlines, with real editors and real publishers. That’s what life is like in the real writing world.
I’m one of those people who love a deadline. I’m spurred on by knowing where the finishing line is and working towards it, often ending with a final sprint. Always have been. Give me a goal post and I can focus. But, here in the aspiring writing world, there are no deadlines. You have to be disciplined and determined, but most of the time there’s no-one holding you accountable apart from yourself. And then I thought… why not implement myself a deadline for my next edit? And so I did.
Now, for many this won’t work. Simply because you know there aren’t any real consequences if you don’t meet the self-imposed deadline. Of course you can put it out there on social media and that can make you feel accountable, but again, there are no real consequences. However, for those who love a deadline, love meeting goals, and thrive on gold stars (even self-awarded ones!), setting your own deadline can work.
I did have a some accountability for my self-imposed deadline, as I had booked my freelance editor who wanted the finished draft in her inbox by the end of July. So I must admit that did spur me along. Now…
Here’s what I learned from setting myself a deadline?
It forced me to sit down at my desk every day and just get on with it. The deadline gave me something to aim for and forced me to measure my time. I knew what I had to get done, and there was no negotiation. I was 100% focused on that gold star awaiting me at the end.
I do have time
Because I had to sit down and get on with it, I found I didn’t waste time on social media, watching mind-numbing TV, or getting lost down the black hole of the internet. I just didn’t have time for that. This was a huge wake up call. As much as we know how much we procrastinate or waste time on social media, I don’t think it really hits home until you have something non-negotiable to fill the space. So if you don’t think you have the time, believe me, you really do.
Some things have to give
Although I found time after putting the TV and internet aside, I still had to prioritise my time. And while I had to fit in things such as work, cooking meals and running kids around, I still had to give up things I love, and the things I usually make time for. For me those things were blogging and reading. In a way it was hard stepping back from blogging, as I enjoy sharing my writing thoughts and ideas, but once I was in the flow, I knew I’d made the right decision. As for reading, that was the hardest thing to put to the side. Especially with my ever growing ‘to-be-read’ pile! But again, when you have a deadline some things just have to give. And what better reward than a pile full of books waiting to be read at the finish line?
I can do it!
One day, I hope I’m in a position to have a real deadline to meet. A deadline with a publisher waiting at the other end. And now, I know I can do it. I know there is still a little wiggle room, and that if pushed even tighter, I could still do it. Hopefully, it was good practice for the real thing. One day.
Would I do it all again?
Absolutely. In fact, when I get the feedback and edits back from my editor I plan to set myself another deadline to deal with them and complete the next draft. That’s just how you get things done. I’ve been sitting on these manuscripts for a while now and I’ve had enough of faffing around. Things are getting serious. And deadlines are going to get me there!
Do you love working to a deadline? Or do they make you break out in a cold sweat?