Throwback Thursday – Self Imposed Deadlines

*Today’s post is a throwback to what I wrote back in January 2011. And guess what? It’s still true.*


I’m the kind of person who always thinks, “Whats the worst that can happen?” And if the answer isn’tΒ immediate and horribly painful, publicly embarrassing death, then I don’t sweat it. Because the worst that can happen? Meh, who cares.

This is where self-imposing a writing deadline can get really tricky.

You can tell yourself you’re going to write one thousand words a day, you’re going to finish revisions in one week, you’re going to write a whole manuscript in three months, OR ELSE, but really – what keeps us from breaking this deadline? Nothin’

At work I ALWAYS meet deadlines because my job is on the line. You bet your ass I’m going to finish this impossibly hard task in the very little time I’m allotted to spend on it, because I NEED MY JOB. And even then, I sometimes find myself thinking, Meh who cares I’ll still survive if I get fired.

What’s on the line if you’re an unpublished author? Not a damn thing but your own personal satisfaction.

And this is why writing is like dieting and saving money: It’s impossible to do with out self-control. So here are my tips to get your ass in the chair and write/revise/finish/query and actually complete a task by your self-imposed deadline, despite the fact that yeah, if you don’t do it, you won’t die.

  • Set attainable goals. If you keep missing your deadline of writing 1000 words a day, change it to 500.
  • Give yourself rewards. Finish that manuscript? Buy yourself a new book. Finish revisions? Skip a day of housework and veg on the couch watching DVD seasons of your favorite show. I recommend Entourage, Party Down, The Office, or Eastbound & Down.
  • MAKE the deadline mean something. If you don’t reach your goal, then no partying with the friends this weekend. (Punishing myself doesn’t work for me, but it might for you!)
  • Tell someone. This helps you be more accountable. Find a great beta partner and tell them you’ll have the chapter/MS to them by a certain date. Keep it.
  • Get a goal buddy. The internet is an invaluable resource for finding amazing writing friends. Find someone who is at the same stage as you and set goals together. Everything is always easier with a friend.
  • Visualize the future. Think about how great it will be when you have a finished product. Think about your future agent, your future book deal and how happy your future self will be that you worked hard to get where you are. Honestly, this is the best method for me. I want to make my future self proud, not ashamed. You want to be a writer – YOU make yourself one.

And finally:

  • Don’t get down on yourself. We all screw up, we all have an off day. Pick yourself back up and remember that at midnight you have a brand new day to make everything right again.