Thursday, October 30, 2014

I Gave Myself a Deadline --- NOW what?


I have a love/hate relationship with them.

Having gone through the process of having deadlines with my first traditionally published book, Sandwich, with a Side of Romance, I know their value and their horror.

There is something GRAND about having someone else tell you, "I need by ." I know, it doesn't SOUND grand. But to have a concrete date to work by and plan by is kinda nice sometimes. It helps prioritizing be made easier. It gives a really good excuse to bow out of things, "Sorry, I can't. I'm on deadline."

But there is also a lot of STRESS in that word too. What if I can't do it? What if I don't have it done by then? Will they cancel my contract? Will they think I'm a difficult author if I don't meet it and refuse to contract me again??? It's like watching a bomb with seconds tick down on it while you're trying to defuse it and save your entire city from distruction... Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but you can see the parallels, right?!?

I'm now on a different time table though.

I'm indie-publishing at the moment (while working on that next contract though...) so my deadlines are all self-given.


Here's the thing about self-given deadlines.

You still have the stress.

But none of the grandure. You have a date but there is now power behind it. It's a concrete date, but our brains (or, at least MY brain) views that word "concrete" more like "sandy" giving it more flexibility than it needs.

So how do we make ourselves, as indie published authors OR unpublished authors trying to stay on top of things, keep our internal deadlines?

Here are a few tips from an author who has self-admittedly not figured it all out yet... but is trying!

- BE SPECIFIC. Don't say, "I want to have my first draft done by fall." or even "I want to have it done by November." No, Make that November 14th at 11:59pm, thank you very much. It makes that "sandy" deadline a little more firm.

- PLAN SOCIAL MEDIA around your deadline. I have a deadline of having my first draft of my next book COMPLETED by Tuesday at 11:59 p.m.So, I announced that I'd be taking the week prior to that off of blogging. I knew doing both would divide my attention and I needed to focus as much as possible on meeting my deadline. I'm limiting Facebook time (I really SHOULD limit it more) and bowed out of a few other personal things because I knew I needed to prioritize my writing. Social media should SUPPORT your writing, not distract from it.

- BE REALISTIC. "I'm going to finish my 80k word romance in two weeks! YES I CAN DO IT!" No--- you probably can't. I mean, maybe, but probably not. Make a goal that is realistic for you to hit, otherwise you're setting yourself of for failure.

- DO THE MATH. How many words do you write a day? Let's say 1,000. Divide that by 80k... that's 80 days. Let's say you write 5 days a week (everyone needs a break) so that's 16 weeks or about 4 months to get a first draft done. Set your date accordingly, and also factor in great things like holidays and vacations and busy times of the year, and add time accordingly. Do your OWN math with your OWN numbers, and set that deadline.

What about you? What things do you do to help hit your internal deadlines? Or do you just not MAKE deadlines? I'd love to know your thoughts either way!

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and author of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance and A Side of Faith. She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at She is represented by Sarah Freese of Wordserve Literary.


Casey said...

I am working to give myself deadlines in real life too. I've realized I am WAY more productive when I give myself a time limit to work on something or a date when it has to be done. Less likely to get distracted too. :)

Robin E. Mason said...

set a deadline aka discipline! double ACK!!! LOL you are so right, Krista! structuring my writing time is key to making it a career and not just a hobby!!

Michelle said...

I map out what I have to get done to meet my deadline and then I stock up on caffeine and chocolate!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Good stuff! I feel like deadlines really do keep me motivated, even if they aren't entirely realistic. More than anything they force me to put down the book I'm reading and just get to work. I take any progress in the right direction as a victory at this point. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I totally agree with Amy. I set my goals, attempting to be realistic. I either make it and celebrate or life barges in the way and slows me down. I still celebrate because, like Amy said, any progress in the right direction is a victory.

Rachelle O'Neil said...

"Concrete" becomes more like "sandy." *wince* Yeah, that one hits close to home. I struggle mightily with deadlines, and I certainly want to get better at meeting them. Your tips are some of the best I've heard, honestly. Thanks, Krista!

Krista Phillips said...

Casey, yup, timelines definitely help!!!

Krista Phillips said...

Robin, YES! It's hard for me to have structured writing time with all of my kids, but I'm trying to be better at having specific times throughout the week that are mom's WORK time and are non-negotiable. I do give myself vacation days here and there though, LOL

Krista Phillips said...

Michelle, yes, mapping it out, while not easy for a seat-of-the-pants girl like me, is so important to time management!

Krista Phillips said...

Amy--- book reading is a HARD distraction to overcome!!!! Because... i mean, it's research, right? If you are WRITING books, you need to READ them. Such a good excuse.... but oye... a time killer distraction too!

Krista Phillips said...

Mary, absolutely!

I think a lot of it depends on where you are in your writing journey.

I've had seasons where I was like "ya know, that's 10 words I didn't have yesterday, so I'm gonna be happy!"

I feel like my current season is calling me to be more regimented and honoring of my self given deadlines though.

Realistic, for me, is key. I recently renogotiated one of my deadlines because it was NOT realistic, and God called me on it.

Krista Phillips said...

Rachelle, it is definitely hard and takes a lot of self will!