Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Self-Imposed Deadlines: Why They Rock

So. My current WIP is in first draft stage. It doesn't have a coherent, logical ending. I haven't finished re-reading it in full, or wrapped up my revision outline. 

But I'm going to start working on Draft Numbah Two this week. 

Folks, I love this story. It is a mess. A big one. But I love it.

And I REALLY want to fix it. Like, now.

I have a self-imposed deadline of completing Draft Numbah Two by mid-April. No one else is asking me to finish this manuscript by that date. I'm forcing myself to do so.


I haven't written a new word in a month. A MONTH, people. And before that? I was stuck in Shiny New Idea Brain Storm for THREE! *hangs head in shame*

So yeah. I need to get back to work. Or else... die?

This is why self-imposed deadlines rock. You know yourself pretty well, right? You know what you can and can't do. How long you'll probably take to work through the mess. These kinds of deadlines usually work because you're doing things at whichever pace you feel like. Sure, some of use get ambitious and aim for four revised drafts in 48 hours, but still. You're thinking hard about what you can achieve, and that's better than STARING AT THE COMPUTER SCREEN without typing A SINGLE WORD for THREE MONTHS.

Yes, I am shouting at myself. Please don't leave. I swear I'm normal. Sometimes.

Nobody knows your writing process better than yourself. Think about your strengths and weaknesses, then tackle the weaknesses first. If you do the opposite, you risk having to cut EVERYTHING later on because the messy parts are so messy, your good parts don't make much sense in the story. Take as much time as a) you need; b) your story needs. That means even after you meet your deadline, your story might still suck. Wait a while, then jump right back in. With another deadline in mind, if possible. 

FYI: I'm not a huge fan of giving your first draft a deadline, but you can certainly do so. I think, with revisions, deadlines are helpful. You get organized as a writer, and your story benefits from it. Double win.

Now tell me: do you have any self-imposed deadlines right now??


  1. I'm a bit of a self-imposed deadline girl. I like to aim for a certain date or I dance around all la la la, pretending I've got all the time in the world. LOL. I'm self-imposting a deadline to get my synopsis edited by next weekend. :(

    Yay draft two. Can't wait to read it ;)

  2. I normally give myself a deadline, it's normally VERY realistic. I aim for a month and get my work done by that date. I tend to work better that way.

    Right now, I'm sort of lost, I'm querying and I don't know what to do with my time. Sigh.

    There's Nanoedmo which I'll be doing but after that I'm sort of lost. I HATE that feeling.

  3. One of my New Year's Resolutions was to write two chapters a month until I finished. And then I basically snapped and wrote double my quota for January and February through some freakish wave of productivity. I think self-imposed deadlines awaken my competitive side - it makes me want to say, "Oh yeah? I can do you one better."

  4. Everyone needs deadlines. If I don't give myself a deadline then I feel like I will never finish and when I finish early then I feel like I really accomplished something and usually reward myself with ice works.

  5. Deadlines are good...however, having the ability to tweak them as needed is even better, LOL!

    Nice post! Good luck with draft numbah two!

  6. You are so right about those deadlines. I set them for myself well before I was given one for real. One of the great things that comes out of that is that I was able to give a realistic time frame base on what I knew I'd done in the past. Great advice.

  7. I'm huge wtih self-imposed deadlines. Can't get enough of them, both personally and professionally. I'm a terrible procrastinator, so I force myself to get my psych eval reports written within one week (and end up getting up at 2am the day they're due to finish them--but they always get done). As long as it's realistic, I really enjoy that pressure and the satisfaction of getting it done. Now, excuse me. I have to go to bed early tonight. I'll be getting up very early tomorrow morning.