Monday, August 1, 2011

Setting and Keeping Deadlines

A few weeks ago, my editor casually called to accept my latest proposal and asked when I could turn the book in. I said, August 1.

At the time it seemed so far away. Like a wisp of a fluffy white cloud in a clear blue sky.

Then RWA Nationals popped up early this year and my husband wanted to go on vacation on July 31 and suddenly I wasn't just staring at an August 1 deadline. I was staring at an August 1 deadline with no hope of an extension because I'd be at the beach! LOL

Still, when I woke up July 3, with about 4 weeks to deadline, I didn't panic. My already-written proposal contained about 50 pages of a 210 page book. That left me with 160 pages to write in four weeks. Forty pages a week.

So, I fell back into my normal routine. Monday and Tuesday I read what I have already written, doing some revising and polishing. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I write ten pages.

I made that sound really easy, didn't I?

Yet some of you can't write 10 pages a day. You can't say for sure you could do 40 pages in a week...even if you had all seven days. And some of you don't like to go back into your manuscript and polish. You want the whole ding dang thing to be done before you start polishing!

Couldn't agree more.

Why? Because everybody's got to find his or her own speed. You have to find your comfort zones. You have to find your process.

When I set my August 1 deadline, I knew that even if I ended up with only 4 weeks to write this book I could do it. Because that's my process.

So the first truth about setting and keeping deadlines is to know your process. Know what you can do and what you can't do. Make your decisions based on your real abilities! Don't make promises you can't keep.

The second thing to know about setting and keeping deadlines is to make a commitment. You're not going to hit your deadlines if you constantly say things like, "Well, I hope I make it." Sheesh. You're virtually giving yourself permission to fail.

When I have a deadline my self-talk goes something like...I easily do forty pages a week. I love to do the early revising and get caught up on the story on Monday and Tuesday. I love writing ten pages a day. I push myself when I'm tired. I make lists of 20 when I'm stuck. I love this whole ding dang process! I'm lucky to be a writer.

Try telling yourself those things three or four times a day and see if you don't wake up eager to write. Happy to write. Able to push yourself, even when you're tired!

So the two things you need to know about deadlines are ... 1. Know your process. Know how to set your deadlines by basing them on your process. (And don't lie to yourself about your process. If you're a 20-page-a-week-girl, don't say you're a 40, because that will result in procrastination! Don't even get me started on that!) So know your process.

And 2. Commit! Be nice to yourself but do not let yourself slide. Remember the affirmations above. I can do this. I love to write! I'm blessed to be able to write. I do make my deadlines.

Happy Writing

susan meier

1 comment:

Melissa McClone said...

Great post! And so true. Thanks. Just what I needed to read.