How To Meet Deadlines And Stay Sane… for the most part
Time is on your side when it comes to meeting deadlines… sometimes.
Whether you’re a brand new writer or a #1 New York Times bestseller, to meet a deadline is crucial to your career. Being a writer at any level requires you to meet plenty of deadlines just like the seasoned vets. Whether it’s deadlines for competitions or personal deadlines for when you want to publish your amazing manuscript; meeting them is a basic discipline that every writer should not only have, but master. But there can be a slight problem when trying to master the sacred art of ‘Discipline de Deadline’. And that problem is… life.
Some of us have a family to support, spouse to give attention to, or the most common of all; a day job that takes up all of our time from writing. When you add all of that up plus try to make deadlines, it can cause for a stressful predicament. Do you still have all of your hair? If so, is it still the original color before you tried to meet these deadlines? Don’t worry, there are ways to meet your deadlines and break free from your homemade straitjacket. This is how you do it.
First thing’s first, you have to set goals. I don’t mean vague goals like “I’m going to write a book” or “I want to be a NYT best-selling author.” I mean goals that are manageable and measurable. Examples would be: Writing 30,000 words a month. Or I’m going to read on this subject by (insert day) to have a better understanding of it. These are just a few things you could do, but even these goals can be broken down into smaller goals that could complete on the daily or weekly basis.
Two great things come out completing your goals. Number one, you’re building on your consistency and discipline. Once you get used to writing on a strict schedule then it will become second nature. Number two, and more importantly, once you complete your goals you can reward yourself with an awesome treat. I always tell myself, “Ok, if you finish writing this chapter you watch TV or play PS4.” I can do those things when I want, but it just feels so much better when you’ve done your duty first.
Now that you have your goals in mind, the next thing you should be focused on is planning. Failure to plan is a plan to fail and that is so true when it comes to meeting deadlines. You can have all the goals you want, but if you don’t have a solid timeline of how and when you plan to meet those goals, it will all be for nothing. A lot of the stress that comes with meeting deadlines are self-inflicted.
I, myself, am a huge procrastinator. So much so, that it has become a part of my writing process to BS before I start just so I can get it out of my system. For all of my fellow procrastinators, we always tell ourselves the same thing… we work better with our backs against the wall. This is false and we need to get out of that mindset. The reason is no matter how much you can write while the time is winding down, your work will NEVER be as good as when you have a calm, relaxed environment and all the time in the world. You can set a date for when you want to have your first draft finished. Network with some people in your niche so they can tell you the do’s and don’ts.
When you’re trying to make that last-minute deadline you’re not thinking 100% clearly. You’re going to make a mistake and a manuscript with mistakes is your best work. So plan it out because you’ll feel like a genius when everything comes together.
Last, but not least, you have to do the one thing that we seem to forget the most…. Relax and have fun! Writing is supposed to be fun and therapeutic. Not a chore. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to make a deadline that we forget this is something we love to do. Now to be fair, this section is more about personality than something that’s measurable, but we all have it in us. That mental chill pill that lets us know that everything is going to be alright. Life might throw us curveballs and you might strike out. But that isn’t you last time at bat. If you bust a deadline don’t stress yourself out. Just go back to the drawing board and figure out where things went wrong.
As writers, the way we handle our time and workload will determine how fast you reach your deadline. So just remember set your goals before you start anything. Plan your goals around your schedule. A failure to plan is a plan to fail. And make sure you’re having fun in the process. Don’t be afraid to bust your deadline and don’t be afraid to admit when you’re in over your head. It can save your reputation in the end.
So how do you manage your time for deadlines? What are some tricks you’ve learned along the way? Fire off in the comment section and don’t forget to subscribe below. Good luck to you all on your literary journey!
Author: Ty Mitchell
I write books and help writers get through their literary journey. I am the author of The Color of Love. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity. Follow me on Twitter @Ty_Mitchell or on Facebook @the-vpf.