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Putting yourself on a deadline – Lizzie Harwood
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Putting yourself on a deadline

Lizzie Harwood / Inspiration  / Putting yourself on a deadline

Putting yourself on a deadline

Does it help a writer to put oneself on a deadline?

A few posts back I mentioned aiming to finish Draft Four by the end of September. I meant 2010, not 2011. But have I? Nope.

Does setting a deadline help me or hinder? Well, this has been a source of fruitful dialogue (read: arguments) between moi and Hubby. He’s a planner. Micro-planner, macro-planner, he’ll do all and any planning. It’s part of his job, but also a big part of his personality. So he gives me The Talk quite often: what’s your target date to finish your book? And at first I played the Creativity Card to dodge this: I CAN’T POSSIBLY PREDICT that!!! That’s like picking winning Lotto numbers! Venus has to align with Mercury when Saturn’s not retrograde for me to finish a draft, don’t you know that I’m trying to create something here?

Well, in reality talk like that is simply procrastination. And procrastination is procrastination is procrastination just like a rose is a rose is a rose. By pushing me into giving him deadlines, Hubby actually helps me get off my butt and write. If I keep turning up everyday and writing, then guess what, I’m getting closer and for some drafts I’ve met the deadline I gave myself. However, if I stare out the window looking for Venus and Mercury to bump up against each other (or WORSE read my own Tarot cards) then I’m not writing and nothing’s getting closer to anything. Except I’m getting closer to throwing a wee sulk at The next Talk.

Look at NaNoWriMo where you have the month of November (that’s 30 days) to write a 50,000 word novel. I managed that one year. It’s a brilliant way to just let go and write your socks off. (I do recommend you work out a storyline pre November 1st as otherwise by about Remembrance Day you could be writing ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ à la The Shining.)

So I believe it’s a good thing to set impossible goals and go for it, otherwise you are only aiming for the easy and attainable and, for me, I don’t think the path to publication is strewn with ‘easy and attainable’ rose petals. Nope.

Of course, today is the 1st of October and I haven’t finished Draft Four. He’s shrunk from his Darth Vader proportions to a kid in a black cape with a silly looking lightstick…. but he’s still poking his tongue out and calling me mean names.

I’ll have to write a post on Not Beating Yourself Up When You Miss Your Deadline.

Do any of you put yourself on a deadline to motivate yourself to write or find that doesn’t do it for you at all?


  • John

    Ahhh. But the key is also setting reasonable targets re time to commit (per day/wk etc) and then measure actual time achieved (daughter permitting). If you hit those targets but miss the overall delivery target its time to worry…. or replan.
    Do you also set daily word targets?
    And daily word target achievement awards!

    October 1, 2010 at 11:00 am
    • Lizzie

      Hhhm. I’m more of an airy-fairy planner in that I aim for X chapters rewritten/edited and don’t look at daily word targets on subsequent drafts (but I do on Draft One).

      If I’m really behind I go for the Nuit Blanche Approach – staying up super late or even all night to get into it and finish!

      I like the sound of target achievement awards…. pray tell, what should they be? A new printer cartridge for staying on track? Whoop whoop!!

      October 1, 2010 at 11:08 am
      • John

        Dietary awards!
        Maybe that is why the best writers are big beasts….

        October 1, 2010 at 11:35 am
  • Jacqui

    Great idea achievement awards. I the image of bite size chunks its conjuring up for me too. Is it not just a great way of spurring on enthusiasm.
    Lizzie I’d like to read more positive self talk too Here are my most HEarty beef soup congratulations to you on this blog!

    October 1, 2010 at 1:35 pm

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