I have always been an expert at procrastination. If I have a task set out in front of me, I will find other things to do instead and put the task off indefinitely, or I will put it off until it can no longer be put off. That is where deadlines come in for me. Deadlines give me that point where things can no longer be out off. For example, if I wait too long to write a draft for a story that is due for an anthology, then I won't be able to write a compelling story before the deadline arrives.
I thought it might be helpful to list some of the ways that deadlines are useful to writers, so I have made a list below.
1 - Deadlines give you a set time to achieve your writing, without which you might put that writing off indefinitely. If you have a deadline at the end of the week, then you know that you will need to start writing and researching at some time prior to that deadline in order to give yourself time to complete your writing project.
2 - Deadlines give you a sense of satisfaction to your activities. Knowing that you are working towards a deadline can give you a feeling of accomplishment as you take steps towards reaching that deadline on time. Each chapter written in the story you have a deadline for, each page or each higher word count you achieve, helps you feel you are getting somewhere with your writing.
3 - Deadlines can give you structure towards reaching your writing goals. Not sure which story , article or post to start working on first? Look at your deadlines and start working on the one with the closest deadline. Need three days to do the actual writing? Start your research earlier to make sure it is complete in time for you to start writing.
4 - Deadlines can help you prioritize your writing when life tries to intrude. We all have lives outside of our writing. some of us have families. Some of us have jobs not related to our writing. Some of us have pets. Some of us have a regular work out schedule or have classes to go to. The list can go on when it comes to what kinds of things can interrupt and interfere with our writing time. Deadlines can help you say "no" to interruptions, because you know that you only have a set amount of time to complete a project. Yes, we all have to spend time with family, and we can't say "no" to our jobs when it is those jobs that pay the bills, but if a writing deadline is looming, it helps you to weed out the things that interfere with your writing time which can wait or be set aside or can be out-sourced to someone else temporarily.
5 - Meeting deadlines can improve your confidence in yourself and your ability to meet future writing goals. Every time you meet a writing deadline, you have attained a writing goal. With each goal achieved, you improve your confidence. Also, meeting deadlines can help others to take you more seriously as a writer. They see you working towards your goals and respect that effort.
The usefulness of deadlines is why I run writing challenges such as the Chapter Book Challenge (ChaBooCha) and this Blog your Book in 30 Days challenge. It's also why I join in with other writing challenges such as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the 12 X 12 Picture Books Writing challenge. These give me deadlines even when I don't have an employer setting one for me.
So tell me, have deadlines helped you achieve your writing goals?
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