Learn to love deadlines (or at least to tolerate them): Invaluable tips for getting it done
This is a guest post by Sarah Butland
Deadlines can be a writer's worst nightmare when it comes to submitting to contests, to an agent, or even to a blog. If they keep you up at night writing, thinking, plotting, and worrying, you're not doing your best; if they hide under your bed, watch you from your closet, or make your pillow lumpy, this blog post is for you!
We all used to imagine the monster under our bed with rotting teeth, bulging eyes and a breath that would kill you if you smelled it. You would lie curled up under the blanket crying for mommy, pleading for the light to be left on so you could stay up just a little later to avoid the mysterious creature created by your own fears and good sense.
Beat the Monsterona!
Now it's the 60,000-word novel that has adopted this terrifying monsterona (is that a word? It is now!) when we don't even have a title for it. Yes, of course we have 45,000 words written, but without a title this book will never sell. You can't possibly submit a completed 60,000-word story without knowing its name. Or maybe it's the title you have and a few ten thousand words short. Or that character’s name just doesn't belong. Why is that stranger in there; do you really need him? What if everyone hates it? What if it doesn't sell? Will your mother be proud to read it, or will she keep it on the back of her toilet for when guests arrive?
Forget about it. Stop crying, start writing, and the more you bleed your pen of ink or work your finger muscles on your laptop, the more confident you'll become. The monster under your bed will once again become your kitty cat.
Set your own deadline for weeks, or even just days, before the actual deadline. Share your ultimate goal and make smaller ones for yourself – then share those, too! Writing doesn't have to be the loneliest profession known to us.
Five key reasons sharing your goal will work
1. It's public so you can go back to it (the Internet is forever and all that, as long as it's not banned, of course.)
2. Others will love following your progress.
3. Others will hold you accountable and celebrate in your success.
4. It's always better to celebrate with others.
5. That scary monster won't seem so frightening when you have a hand to hold.
Personally, I love a deadline–as I don't procrastinate and get it done immediately. I don’t want to have too much on my plate closer to the deadline and/or simply forget about it. For my weekly blog, I'm sometimes writing weeks ahead and simply scheduling it for public viewing on the Friday or the next Friday, whenever the next empty Friday slot is. That way I always have something to write, I don't feel as pressured into finding the time that day or week to get something written, and I'm able to review/edit it as much as I want before submission date.
Every contest, agent or publisher has a deadline. Get used to it!
Challenge yourself before you commit to a deadline. Time is something we all need more of, it seems, and procrastination doesn't get us anywhere. Think about it: If you procrastinate you forget about it and make other commitments, and then when you're reminded of your past promises you panic and feel overwhelmed, staying awake wondering what horrible ending looms – and I don't mean in your work in progress.
Practice Makes Perfect–in a way
No story is perfect except yours – the very first time you read it. Even then you may pick up on a few errors, but never all of them. Even your spell check on the computer is flawed.
So just write. Write for content, write for you, and write a lot. Don't worry about the looming deadline when you first sit down to write, just do it!
I found it hard last year to find the time to write anything until I had a deadline and encouragement to meet it. Then I met it! And won the contest I entered it in.
Know you can meet it!
Things to Note
1. Even Stephen King has 24 hours in each day.
2. Smaller deadlines equal more success and more celebrations
3. The story needs to be told, so tell it quickly and revise later. Once it's written it's easy to tear apart and piece back together.
4. The sun meets the earth every day, even when it's cloudy. For everyone every where.
5. We believe in you; so should you!
If you're a fiction writer you're doing it for the crazy satisfaction you get from writing your characters story. They will always speak to you when you listen, so to meet that deadline you promised to someone or to yourself, ust breathe and listen with a computer or pen and paper nearby.
About this post’s author:
Sarah Butland realized her career of writing would be a difficult struggle no matter the talent she held inside or had forced out. Many stories, attempts at novels and thousands of ideas later, Butland created BananaBoy. The Adventures of Sammy was born with Sending You Sammy, her first published children's book. Then came Brain Tales – Volume One, a collection of short stories, and finally Arm Farm, her current literary pride and joy.
You can find Sarah at her blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account.