“There is only one proof of ability: Action.”
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
Over the years, I’ve slowly become a fan of deadlines. For a long time, I was a free-floating sort of gal. I’d wait hazily for inspiration to touch me and compel me to action. My big paper for my MA studies drifted along dangerously until I finally reined it in, barely in time to submit it.
After leaving school, I worked at a nonprofit magazine for a time, which I really enjoyed. But I found the nonprofit world a bit disconcerting because it seemedvery loosey-goosey when it came to getting projects done. So some of my stories took far longer to write than they should have. The more time I had, the more time it took to finish something.
Then I hit the business world and it was deadline city. Everything I did had a deadline attached to it and people expected them to be met. And so I met them. This taught me a lot, not just about being accountable, but about being disciplined. In my work as a freelance marketing consultant, this served me very well. I quickly gained a reputation as someone who delivered projects on deadline — which is rarer than you might think in the freelance writing world.
Now that I’m focusing most of my energy on more creative writing, I’ve found that setting deadlines is more important and valuable to me than ever. As we all know, motivating yourself day in and day out is tough. It takes lots of energy and will power. Deadlines can be a great ally in the battle to move forward with projects we care about, projects that are challenging enough to demand a lot from us both mentally and emotionally.
My approach is to set small daily deadlines for myself and stick to them: writing a blog post every night, for example. Then I also give myself larger goals: sending out so many query letters in a week or delivering a redraft of Part 1 of my YA novel to my sister Steph before I leave on a trip. Setting small daily goals and modest weekly ones keeps me moving steadily toward my bigger objectives — and that’s exactly where I want to be. How about you? Do you have a deadline strategy that works well? Write on!